Marriage & Divorce
Marriage, death and divorce can impact your your pension benefits and those available to your eligible surviving spouse and beneficiaries. It is important that you understand how these changes could impact your retirement benefits.
Who Is an Eligible Spouse?
Generally, an eligible spouse is your lawful spouse at the time of your retirement or death, if you die before you retire.
- Eligibility may be impacted by the date and length of your marriage, a divorce, and death.
UPDATE: Retirement Benefits Available for Same-Gender Spouses
As you know, if you are legally married to a same-gender spouse, your spouse is eligible for full spousal benefits if you earn 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 you are active or retired, we are allowing same-gender spouses to receive full (or partial) spousal benefits if you are legally married and can present an Affidavit of Committed Relationship by December 31, 2017, to show your spouse’s eligibility for benefits. Same-gender surviving spouses of retired participants may also be eligible for spousal benefits under certain circumstances.
- Download the Affidavit of Committed Relationship
- Download the Affidavit of Support of Committed Relationship
If you have already submitted an affidavit and made a spousal benefit election, you do not need to submit another affidavit, and the election that you made will continue to apply. If, however, you previously submitted an affidavit and were not eligible to make a spousal benefit election, please call Client Services to discuss your 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 email@example.com.
If You Marry Before You Retire
- If you are married, and you
- Have not been divorced and
- Have earned a minimum of three years of Credited Service (CS) during the marriage
your spouse may be eligible for survivor's benefits after you die.
- If you remarry after divorce, your new spouse may be eligible for benefits, subject to the provisions set forth in your Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and the date of your new marriage. See Divorce for more information.
- If you marry close to retirement, your spouse may be eligible for pension benefits, provided you earn a minimum of three years of Credited Service after the marriage. If your marriage is less than 3 years prior to your retirement, your spouse will not be eligible for the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy.
If You Marry After You Retire
- Your spouse is a not a beneficiary of the Clergy Pension Plan.
- However, you can purchase a survivor's benefit by permanently reducing your monthly benefit to provide for the additional benefit. This election is irrevocable and must be made within 180 days of your marriage.
If You Divorce Before You Retire
- Your former spouse may be entitled to receive all or a portion of your retirement benefits, based on the agreements set forth in your Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which you and your former spouse should execute and file as part of your divorce proceedings. QDROs are subject to approval by the Church Pension Fund's office of General Counsel and the court. You should discuss the QDRO and its provisions with your lawyer. For more information, see QDRO documents.
- Please note: We cannot provide information regarding your pension benefits to a third party unless you execute a Consent Form.
- You may elect to provide a survivor's benefit to your former spouse in the event you predecease him or her. One method of doing so is through the election of the Former Spouse Option. This election must be made prior to the date you begin to receive benefits and is available only if you have earned at least 10 years of Credited Service (CS) during your marriage. For more information about this process, call Client Services at (866) 802-6333.
If You Divorce After You Retire
- The person you designated as your beneficiary (if any) at the time of retirement will remain entitled to the survivor's benefit that you elected, even if this is your former spouse. This cannot be changed.
- Your QDRO can be used to provide a share of your retirement benefit during your lifetime to your former spouse.
If Your Spouse Dies Before You Retire
- You can name beneficiaries to receive certain of your survivor's benefits. These beneficiaries can include your children or other named beneficiaries.
- If you marry again before you retire, your spouse may be eligible for surviving spouse benefits. See Marriage for details on the qualifications. You must notify Client Services about your marriage.
If Your Spouse Dies After You Retire
- If your spouse dies after retirement and you named your spouse as the beneficiary of the survivor‘s benefits you elected at retirement, no survivor's benefit will be payable (unless you marry after retirement and purchase a survivor’s benefit).
A Note About Beneficiaries
It is very important that all your beneficiary designations be kept up-to-date. You can designate beneficiaries for your:
- Monthly Pension Benefit (with certain restrictions)
- Lump Sum Death Benefits (prior to retirement)
- Life Insurance
- Resettlement Benefit (with certain restrictions)
If you do not designate a beneficiary for certain benefits, such as the life insurance benefit and the lump sum death benefit, the benefits will be paid according to “default beneficiary” provisions that may not be in keeping with your wishes. If you die before you retire and you have not named a beneficiary and do not have a spouse or children, the monthly benefit for survivors will not be paid. To designate or change your beneficiary, please click here.
1There may be additional restrictions regarding eligibility for survivor’s benefits. For more information, see the Guide to the Clergy Pension Plan.