You are considered an Active participant if:
- You are regularly employed and enrolled in the Clergy Pension Plan, have earned at least one month of Credited Service, and Assessments are no more than 24 months past due; or
- Your enrollment in the Clergy Pension Plan has ended because you are no longer employed and no more than six calendar months have passed following your last day of employment (referred to as a six-month grace period); or
- Your six-month grace period is over, you have paid personal Assessments for the entirety of the six-month grace period, and none of your personal Assessments are past due; or
- You have earned 25 or more years of Credited Service; or
- You are classified as Deemed Active as of December 31, 2017. (In general, to be Deemed Active means you are not currently earning Credited Service, but you were eligible to retire at the time that you stopped earning Credited Service.)
In addition, after you are approved for short- or long-term disability benefits, you will be considered Active under the Clergy Pension Plan as long as you are receiving disability benefits.
Notwithstanding the rules above, if you are deposed or removed in accordance with the Constitution and Canons, you generally will not be considered Active unless you have earned 25 or more years of Credited Service or were classified as Deemed Active as of December 31, 2017.
This is the contribution amount that your employer is required to pay CPF on your behalf. As of 2018, the contribution amount is equal to 18% of your Total Assessable Compensation. If you are employed by multiple employers, each one is billed based on the portion of your Total Assessable Compensation that it pays or provides to you.
There are certain situations in which you may pay personal Assessments.
Assessments are used to fund the benefits that CPF provides to eligible clergy and their beneficiaries, including pension, post-retirement health, disability, life insurance, and other death benefits.
Child Benefit Plan
The Church Pension Fund Clergy Child Benefit Plan, as amended from time to time.
Church (or Episcopal Church)
The Episcopal Church.
Clergy Pension Plan
The Church Pension Fund Clergy Pension Plan, as amended from time to time.
Constitution and Canons
The Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America Otherwise Known as the Episcopal Church, as amended from time to time.
The Church Pension Fund, a New York State corporation.
CPF is the plan administrator of the benefit plans explained in this Guide. As the plan administrator, CPF is responsible for the operation of the plans, including interpreting plan provisions and authorizing benefit payments. The plan administrator has the power and authority to interpret and construe the provisions of a plan and has sole discretion in making determinations under a plan. This includes but is not limited to determinations of fact and eligibility for benefits, and deciding any dispute that may arise regarding the rights of participants or their beneficiaries under a plan.
All interpretations and decisions of the plan administrator are final and binding on all interested parties. The plan administrator may delegate any or all of this authority to a third party. To the extent that the plan administrator has delegated its authority, the third party has all of the powers and responsibility of the plan administrator.
The years and months for which full Assessments have been paid by your employer on your Total Assessable Compensation and, if applicable, for which you have personally paid Assessments. You earn one month of Credited Service for each month that the applicable Assessment is paid in full.
Credited Service is used to calculate your pension benefit and to determine your status (Active/Inactive) under the Clergy Pension Plan and your eligibility for, and the amount of, the Medicare Supplement Health Plan Subsidy. Please note that, effective January 1, 2018, you will only earn Credited Service under the Medicare Subsidy Plan if you pay Assessments on monthly compensation that is equal to or greater than 1/12 of the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation.
Disabled (under the Long-Term Disability Plan)
You are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your own job for the first 24 calendar months following approval of benefits under the Long-Term Disability Plan. After this 24-month period, you will be considered disabled if you are unable to perform any occupation by which you are able to earn at least 80% of your Highest Average Compensation, as determined immediately prior to your disability. Interpersonal conflicts or environmental or other hazards in the workplace will not be a factor considered when determining whether you can perform your own job.
Disabled (under the Short-Term Disability Plan)
You are unable to perform (or are limited from performing) the material and substantial duties of your own job for more than 14 calendar days due to illness or injury. You also will be considered disabled under the Short-Term Disability Plan if you have given birth to a child. You will not be considered disabled if you are able to earn 80% of your Total Assessable Compensation, as determined immediately prior to your disability. Interpersonal conflicts or environmental or other hazards in the workplace will not be a factor considered when determining whether you can perform your own job.
Early retirement age
Age 55 through age 64.
The Ecclesiastical Authority of a diocese as determined under the Constitution and Canons.
Eligible children include:
- Your legal child who was living on the date that you stopped earning Credited Service under the Clergy Pension Plan (or was born or adopted within 12 months thereafter); and
- Your stepchild, foster child, or legal ward who was your tax dependent both in the calendar year in which you stopped earning Credited Service (or in the calendar year immediately following the year in which you stopped earning Credited Service) and in the calendar year of your death.
In addition, an eligible child must be under the age of 25 at the time of your death or must be disabled. If disabled, an eligible child must have become disabled prior to attaining age 25. (CPF will consider a child to be disabled if he or she is receiving Social Security disability benefits or has been determined to be disabled by Lincoln Financial.)
The person to whom you are legally married (1) both on the date that you stop earning Credited Service and on your retirement date, or (2) on the date of your death, whichever occurs first. In addition, a spouse is an eligible spouse only if you earn at least 12 months of Credited Service while married to him or her.
An eligible spouse is entitled to full spousal benefits, including a fully subsidized 50% survivor benefit (or, if applicable, a minimum spousal pension) from the Clergy Pension Plan and the Medicare Supplement Health Plan Subsidy, but only if you yourself are eligible for the subsidy. (A different rule applies if you retire, return to active ministry, and re-retire with a spouse to whom you were not married on your initial retirement date.)
A civil union or domestic partnership does not constitute a marriage under the Clergy Pension Plan.
An organization that is required to pay Assessments to CPF on behalf of an Episcopal cleric, including:
- An organization that is subject to the authority of the Church; and
- An organization that is associated with the Church and elects to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan.
A physical residence that is owned or rented directly by your employer, such as a rectory.
Extension of Ministry
The ability to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan if you exercise active ordained ministry in pastoral, educational, or social work at a non-Episcopal organization or any society, organization, or body associated with the Episcopal Church that has not elected to participate in the Clergy Pension Plan. See Types of Participation for more information.
Highest Average Compensation (HAC)
The average of the seven highest-paid, non-overlapping, 12-month periods during which you earned Credited Service over your entire career.
Hypothetical Minimum Compensation
An amount established by the Clergy Pension Plan to determine Total Assessable Compensation in certain cases, whether Credited Service is earned toward the Medicare Supplement Health Plan Subsidy, and the amount of Assessments in certain situations. Beginning January 1, 2018, the amount is $18,000 per year (or $1,500 per month).
Under the Clergy Pension Plan, you will be an Inactive participant if:
- Your enrollment in the Clergy Pension Plan has ended because you are no longer employed, more than six calendar months have passed following your last day of employment, and you have not paid personal Assessments (or your personal Assessments are past due); or
- You are regularly employed and enrolled in the Clergy Pension Plan, but your employer has not paid Assessments for more than 24 months; or
- You are not otherwise Active.
If you are deposed or removed in accordance with the Constitution and Canons, you generally will become Inactive as of the first day of the month following your deposition or removal.
Lincoln Financial Group, which is the organization designated as CPF’s Medical Board.
Life Insurance Plan
The Church Pension Fund Clergy Life Insurance Plan, as amended from time to time.
Long-Term Disability Plan
The Church Pension Fund Clergy Long-Term Disability Plan, as amended from time to time.
Mandatory Church Retirement Age
Medicare Subsidy Plan
The Church Pension Fund Clergy Post-Retirement Medical Assistance Plan, as amended from time to time.
Medicare Supplement Health Plan Subsidy
A monthly post-retirement health subsidy that CPF provides to eligible retired clergy and their eligible spouses or surviving spouses under the Medicare Subsidy Plan.
Normal Retirement Age
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
A court order that has been approved by CPF that is used to divide your pension with an alternate payee (usually your former spouse). A QDRO may only be used for the Clergy Pension Plan. See Life Event Changes for more information.
You will be a retired participant if you have started to receive your pension benefits from the Clergy Pension Plan and have not subsequently returned to active ministry.
Short-Term Disability Plan
The Church Pension Fund Clergy Short-Term Disability Plan, as amended from time to time.
Total Assessable Compensation
The sum of the following annualized amounts* on which your employer is required to pay Assessments:
- Base salary (excluding housing) and scheduled taxable cash payments; plus
- Cash housing allowance and/or utilities; plus
- Employer contributions to a qualified and/or non-qualified plan; plus
- One-time payments (applies to month when paid); plus
- The value of employer-provided housing, which equals 30% of the sum of #1 through #4 above. (However, if the sum of #1 through #4 above is less than the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation, the value of employer-provided housing equals 30% of the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation.)
* Any form of severance (including pay continuation following a termination of employment) should be excluded in all cases. In addition, employer-paid tuition for dependents is not assessable unless it is taxable.
Note that if the only type of compensation that your employer provides is housing, then your Total Assessable Compensation equals 30% of the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation.