Working While Pensioned
When clergy retire, they may serve in the Episcopal Church and continue to receive pension benefits as long as:
- They are in good standing with the Episcopal Church
- They will not be working in the church or institution from which they have retired
- Their total compensation from Episcopal Church-related income does not exceed $37,700 for a 12 month period, effective January 1, 2017 ($38,250 effective January 1, 2018).
If the cleric is age 72 or older, he or she may serve in the Episcopal Church with no restrictions on income.
- If the cleric returns to work with the Episcopal Church, his or her participation in the Medicare Supplement Plan and receipt of the Medicare Supplement subsidy may be impacted. The cleric may be required to enroll in one of the Medicare Secondary Payer Small Employer Exception Plans or active healthcare plans offered by The Medical Trust.
Work outside the Episcopal Church does not impact benefits from the Clergy Pension Plan.
Exceptions to Working While Pensioned Policy
The Church Pension Fund grants limited exceptions to the Working While Pensioned rules. If granted, the exception allows a retired cleric to continue to receive a pension from CPF while earning more than the stated income limit. In addition, the hiring entity is not required to pay an assessment. The circumstances CPF will consider for granting an exception are outlined below.
- The cleric must be at least 65 years of age and have at least 25 years of credited service. No exception is required for clerics age 72 or over.
- The cleric must be in good standing with the Episcopal Church
- Prior to commencement of work, the Ecclesiastical Authority in the diocese where the work will occur must submit to CPF:
- An application for Exception to the Rules for Working While Pensioned, completed by the cleric and signed by the Ecclesiastical Authority
- A letter or certification from the Ecclesiastical Authority representing that:
- The Ecclesiastical Authority has concluded that there is extraordinary pastoral or institutional need for the cleric to serve in the requested position, or to serve in the same location as just prior to receipt of his or her pension benefit and explaining the reasons for this conclusion
- If the cleric will serve in the same location as just prior to receipt of his or her pension benefit, the cleric will serve in a completely different position, with very limited scope and remuneration
- Full consideration has been given, and all reasonable efforts were made, to fill the position with a non-retired cleric , but you have been determined to be the most qualified candidate
- All reasonable efforts will continue to be made to find a non-retired cleric to serve in the requested position when the exception expires in one year
- The Ecclesiastical Authority has the authority to remove the cleric from the position at any time, and the congregation understands this authority
- The Ecclesiastical Authority recommends that CPF grant the requested exception
- The amount of the proposed compensation in the new position plus the pension benefit amount, compared to the previous, active compensation of the cleric, will be a consideration for CPF in making this determination.
- Exceptions will be granted for only one year, with a total exception period that may not exceed two years. The Ecclesiastical Authority must provide another application and letter, as described above, prior to the expiration of the initial exception period to request that the exception period be extended by one year.
- Any other conditions imposed by the terms of the Clergy Plan must be satisfied.
CPF must determine, in its discretion, that:
- There is extraordinary pastoral or institutional need for the cleric to serve in the requested position and
- There are compelling reasons to permit the cleric to receive pension payments under the Clergy Plan while also receiving the proposed compensation.
CPF must approve any requests for exceptions to the Working While Pensioned rules.
Send the letter and application to:
The Church Pension Fund
c/o Michelle Langone
19 East 34th Street
New York, NY 10016
What happens if a cleric returns to active ministry and either exceeds the compensation limits or does not meet the other Working While Pensioned criteria?
- Pension benefits will be suspended while the cleric is working.
The cleric's participation in the Medicare Supplement Plan and receipt of the Medicare Supplement subsidy will be impacted. He or she will be required to enroll in one of the Medicare Secondary Payer Small Employer Exception Plans or active healthcare plans offered by The Medical Trust.
- The employer will be responsible for paying pension assessments based on the cleric's Total Assessable Compensation.
- When active ministry ceases, a new pension benefit is calculated.
- The new benefit will be the combination of the original pension benefit (in the optional form originally chosen and reflecting any cost-of-living increases that may have been granted on that pension benefit), plus any additional pension benefits earned during the cleric's return to active ministry.
- The cleric may elect a separate optional form of benefit for the newly earned pension benefits.