When you become ordained and are employed by an Episcopal institution, your employer enrolls you in the Clergy Pension Plan.
If you are ordained but do not yet have a job, you can earn one year of Credited Service by personally paying assessments to The Church Pension Fund. Your assessments would be based on The Church Pension Fund's hypothetical minimum compensation.
You must accumulate five years of Credited Service in the Clergy Pension Plan to be vested in your retirement benefits.
As a participant in the Clergy Pension Plan, you do not contribute to your pension. Therefore, The Church Pension Fund offers additional retirement savings options. The Retirement Savings Plan (RSVP) allows you to contribute a portion of your compensation to a retirement account. You may also purchase Church Life Annuities and IRAs through the Church Life Insurance Corporation.
The Church Pension Fund is different from a 401(k) and other "defined contribution" plans. In your "defined benefit" plan:
- Your benefits are assured, even if financial markets decline. Retirement benefits are determined when you retire, and increase whenever cost of living adjustments are made.
- Contributions are pooled. Your assessments are pooled with the assessments for all paid clergy employment by an Episcopal Church institution.
- Benefits are comprehensive. The Church Pension Fund provides Life Insurance, Disability and other benefits designed to maintain your financial security. These benefits are available throughout your active ministry and retirement.
- Benefits are portable within the church. You can keep your benefits if you switch jobs within the Episcopal Church.
If I receive a very small monthly benefit from the plan, can I cash it out and receive a lump sum payment?
No. The clergy pension plan provides you with monthly benefits for life and, if applicable, for the life of your spouse or named beneficiary.
If you perform purely secular work, you can pay personal assessments for up to one year to The Church Pension Fund. Your assessments would be based on your last full-time compensation or Highest Average Compensation, whichever is less.
If both spouses are ordained clergy, they each build a personal record of credited service with The Church Pension Fund, and will each receive a pension after retirement. They may also each qualify for the surviving spouse benefit.
The Church Pension Fund has a special agreement with the Office of the Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies. If you serve the church in the military, please contact us for details.
If part of your service to the church takes place in another part of the Anglican communion, you may still be vested in The Church Pension Fund if you have earned a total of five years of combined credited service. At least two must be based on participation in the United States plan. Your benefits from the The Church Pension Fund will be based only on your participation in the U.S. plan.
More questions about clergy pensions? Please visit Active Clergy Pensions.