Surviving Spouse Benefits
The Clergy Pension Plan provides an automatic survivor's benefit to your eligible surviving spouse equal to 50% of your monthly retirement benefit.
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. See more in Marriage & Divorce.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your eligible spouse may receive1:
- Monthly Benefit – the Pension Plan offers payment options that allow you to choose the survivor’s monthly benefit option that fits your circumstances. The option you select will impact both the monthly payment you receive during your lifetime and the amount your surviving spouse will receive after you die. You can:
- Choose to have your spouse receive 50% of your monthly benefit. This option is automatically selected for you, unless you change it at retirement.
- Increase the percentage of your benefit that will be paid to your spouse after your death to 60%, 75%, 85% or 100% of the benefit that you will receive during your lifetime. Selecting one of these options will decrease the monthly benefit you receive during your lifetime.
- Reduce the percentage of your benefit that will be paid to your spouse after your death to 25% of your monthly benefit, which will increase your monthly benefit slightly during your lifetime. Your spouse must consent to this option.
- Select the Zero Option Adjustment, which eliminates the surviving spouse benefit. This option will increase your monthly benefit during your lifetime. Your spouse must consent to this option.
- Elect to receive a 10- or 15-year certain payment. This option will provide payments for a “period certain” of either 10 or 15 years to your surviving spouse or named beneficiary, or to you for life. Your spouse must consent to this option and your monthly benefit will be adjusted to take into account the period certain payments. For details on this option, see A Guide to Benefits Under the Clergy Pension Plan.
If you choose to select an option other than the 50% automatic option, the choice must be made at retirement and cannot be changed once selected.
- Life Insurance – A life insurance benefit may be paid to your surviving spouse if you retired directly from active service or have at least 25 years of Credited Service (CS).
- The life insurance benefit is equal to four times your Highest Average Compensation (HAC), with a maximum of $50,000 and a minimum of $10,000.
- You can name beneficiaries other than your spouse to your life insurance. If you do so, your spouse will not be eligible to receive your life insurance benefit.
See Life Insurance for more information.
- Other Benefits – The Clergy Pension Plan provides additional benefits, including a Christmas bonus and discretionary cost of living increases, for eligible surviving spouses.
Marriage & Divorce
There are rules that establish who is eligible for a surviving spouse benefit if you:
- Marry close to or after retirement
- Are divorced
- Remarry after a divorce.
These rules are explained in Marriage & Divorce.
Not Retired Yet?
The survivor's benefits provided if you die before you retire are different than those provided after you retire. See Survivor's Benefits for Active Clergy for more information.
1There may be additional restrictions regarding eligibility for survivor's benefits. For more information, see A Guide to Benefits Under the Clergy Pension Plan.