Death In Retirement

Increasing a Spouse's Benefit

  • Eligible clergy spouses automatically receive a survivor's benefit of 50% of the cleric's pension benefit.
  • At the time of retirement, clerics can increase the spousal benefit to 60%, 75%, 85%, 100%.
  • Increasing the benefit slightly reduces the cleric's own benefit.
  • The pension reduction is determined by:
    • Size of the pension
    • Option chosen
    • Ages of the cleric and his spouse
  • Clerics must decide whether to increase the spousal benefit when they retire.
  • The spousal benefit cannot be changed once selected.
  • If a cleric retires on disability, this option is not available until age 65.
  • The spouse automatically receives the entire pension benefit if:
    • The cleric dies before retirement with at least 30 years of Credited Service.
    • The cleric dies when 60 or older and has at least five years of Credited Service.

UPDATE: Retirement Benefits Available for Same-Gender Spouses

As you may know, for clergy who are legally married to a same-gender spouse, the spouse is eligible for full spousal benefits if the cleric earns at least three years of credited service while married.

Acknowledging that same-gender marriage was only recently recognized nationally, and also in response to General Convention Resolution 2015-D047, we are relaxing eligibility requirements for same-gender spouses until December 31, 2017. Specifically, whether clergy are active or retired, we are allowing same-gender spouses of clergy to receive full (or partial) spousal benefits if they are legally married and can present an Affidavit of Committed Relationship by December 31, 2017, to show their spouse's eligibility for benefits. Same-gender surviving spouses of retired participants may also be eligible for spousal benefits under certain circumstances.

Clergy who have already submitted an affidavit and made a spousal benefit election do not need to submit another affidavit, and the election they made will continue to apply. If, however, a cleric previously submitted an affidavit and was not eligible to make a spousal benefit election, he or she should call Client Services to discuss his or her specific situation.

We are making every effort to communicate this opportunity to everyone. Please share this information with those you think might benefit from it. Please call the Client Services team at (866) 802-6333, Monday – Friday, 8:30AM – 8:00PM ET (excluding holidays) for more information, or email us at


Zero Option (No Spousal Benefit) and Actuarial Adjustment

  • With spousal consent, clerics can waive the spousal benefit.
  • This increases the cleric's pension benefit.

Single Clergy and Second Adult Beneficiary

  • Unmarried clerics automatically receive the Zero Option benefit when they retire.
  • They can name a second adult as a beneficiary.
  • The benefit for a second adult can be between 25% and 100% of the cleric's benefit.

Life Insurance

  • Four times the cleric's Highest Average Compensation
  • Minimum value of $10,000; maximum value of $50,000
  • Provided to all clergy who:
    • Retire from active service, or
    • Have at least 25 years of Credited Service

Pensions Disclaimer

Right Rail

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Fax Number
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(877) 432-9274

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