Never worry about outliving your money.
An employer-sponsored defined benefit plan, the Pension Plan guarantees a monthly retirement benefit for you (and a spouse/qualified domestic partner's) lifetime.
About Pension Plan
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Who is eligible for the Pension Plan?
All employees working for an organization affiliated with the Stone-Campbell (Restoration) Movement are eligible to participate in the Pension Plan. These organizations include (but aren't limited to) congregations, wider ministries, seminaries, universities, and colleges associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and Churches of Christ in the United States. A self-employed minister can also participate if ministerial services are being compensated.
Pension Fund also offers the Student Gift Membership Program to students preparing for ministry as an early introduction to the benefits of membership in Pension Fund's Pension Plan. Part of Pension Fund's Ministerial Relief and Assistance Fund, this program gifts a portion of pension dues. To learn more about the Student Gift program and see if you're eligible to apply, download our brochure.
Why the Pension Plan?
- Provides guaranteed monthly pension benefit for life.
- Employer, employee, or both may make contributions.
- Contributions are normally pre-tax.
- Pension value increases over time with dues payments + Special Apportionment Credits.
- Death and disability benefits (transferable to surviving spouse/qualified domestic partner(QDP) + minor children at death).
- Ministers may continue to participate during periods of self-employment.
- Complements other retirement savings plans (such as Social Security and Individual Retirement Accounts).
Good for employers who:
- Want to provide the security of income-for-life for their employees.
- Want to provide employees with significant protection for family members in the event of death or disability
- Seek to alleviate the burden placed on individuals to invest on their own.
- Desire to protect employees from the volatile ups and downs of market performance.
Good for employees who:
- Seek to lower taxable income.
- Want an easy choice to save without the hassle of having to choose investments or worry about the ups and downs of market performance.
- Want peace of mind that their spouse/QDP and dependents will be taken care of in the event of death or disability.
- Want to enjoy the security of never outliving funds.
- Wish to declare a housing allowance in retirement (ministers only).
more retirement income is paid to workers who have a pension plan in addition to Social Security (more than double Social Security alone).*
How it Works
Ministers who are active members must contribute an amount equal to 14% of compensation (pension dues). Lay employees are encouraged--but not required--to pay full pension dues. Pension dues may be paid in part by the employee and in part by an employer, as determined.
Pension Fund uses these dues to formulate your retirement benefits, also known as pension credits. For ministry students interested in enrolling in the Student Gift Program, Pension Fund pays Pension Plan dues ($70 per month) at no cost to you.
To participate in Pension Plan: In a participation agreement between your employer and Pension Fund, your employer will define eligibility requirements for organizational and employee participation in the Pension Plan. You or a representative for your employer may contact a member of our Client Relations team to set up a participation agreement.
Pension Plan dues may be paid by an employer or employee, or a combination of both. Pension Fund recommends a contribution of 14% (full) pension dues. While this may feel like a significant financial sacrifice during prime earning years, the result is income-for-life in retirement.
Ministers may continue to participate during periods of self-employment if performing in the exercise of ministry in order to maintain active status and keep their death and disability benefits. Options for paying dues include payment via check, one-time ACH or recurring ACH.
The Pension Plan is well funded, with additional funds held in reserve to protect against economic downturns. In fact, when reserves exist above what is required for current and future benefits (and any potential market decline), our board of directors may declare additional Special Apportionment Credits (SACs) -- meaning more money for you in retirement.
A unique feature of the Pension Plan, Special Apportionment Credits are additional pension credits over and above those allotted for in the retirement formula required for current and future benefits (similar to a cost-of-living adjustment). Many Pension Fund members report they actually receive more income in retirement than when they were working with the help of Special Apportionment pension increases.
Should a worst-case scenario become reality, the Pension Plan includes built-in death and disability benefits available to active participants and their families. Rest assured your loved ones will be financially protected regardless of your circumstance.
Death and disability benefits included:
- Salary Continuation
- Surviving Spouse Pension
- Surviving Child
- Surviving Child Education Benefit
- Dependent Parent Benefit
- Pensioner Death Benefit
- Disability Benefit
(See Pension Fund Product Brochure for more information)
What Our Members Are Saying
“Traditional income-for-life pensions are increasingly rare, and the stability and returns that come from participation in the Pension Plan is a benefit most employees recognize as unique and very beneficial.”
Woodhaven Learning Center (Columbia, MO)
"Having a package of benefits is important to young and old. In the early years, the benefit of a disability plan was important to protect my young family. In later years, it was the promise that if I become disabled before retirement age, there would be financial help for me and my wife.”
Rev. Paul Porter
“When my husband and I first met with our financial advisor, his eyes got wider and wider as he read through my pension benefits.”
Rev. Bethany Watkins Lowery (Indianapolis, IN)
“My predecessor told me, ‘I’m making more in retirement as part of the Pension Plan than I ever did when I was working for the Church'...I’ve become a student of long-term saving and the magic of compound interest of defined benefit plans.”
Rev. David Vaughan (Cleves, OH)
“There is simply no pension fund anywhere that’s as well-run, sound and generous as Pension Fund of the Christian Church.”
Rev. Dr. Rick Lowery (Indianapolis, IN)
“One of our beloved staff members experienced cancer that prevented him from working and then took his life from us. Pension Fund’s disability and death benefits gave him peace of mind in his final year.”
Disciples Seminary Foundation (Claremont, CA)
Frequently Asked Questions
Your monthly pension payment is equal to 1/12 of the total amount of pension credits in your account at the time of your retirement PLUS any Special Apportionments earned thereafter. Pension credits are determined by:
- Your salary
- Dues paid by you and/or your employer
- How long you've been a member
- The amount of Special Apportionments awarded over time
A unique feature of the Pension Plan is Special Apportionment Credits. Special Apportionment Credits are additional pension credits over and above those allotted for in the retirement formula required for current and future benefits. They’re awarded as a percentage of the accumulated pension credits in a Pension Plan member’s account.
The Pension Fund Board of Directors reviews the reserves required for current and future benefits, as well as reserves needed for potential market declines. When reserves exist above what are required by policy, the Board of Directors may declare a Special Apportionment for all Pension Plan participants.**
**Special Apportionments are similar to a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase, but are linked more directly to the Pension Plan’s funding level.
In addition to a retirement benefit, your Pension Plan dues provide additional protection of death and disability benefits as part of the plan design.*
- The salary continuation benefit is equal to three times the annual compensation on which dues are paid (maximum benefit $50,000).
- The surviving spouse pension is 50% of the member’s pension credits (if not retired) or 50% of the member’s retirement pension. Members who retire at age 65 or older may alternately elect, at time of retirement, a 50%, 75% or 100% surviving spouse pension.
- Each surviving child (full orphan pension, if applicable) is eligible to receive $500 per month up to age 21. If both the original member and their spouse or qualified domestic partner dies, all unpaid cash death benefits are paid to the estate. The amount of the spouse pension is added to the minor child pensions as a full orphan pension.
- The surviving child educational benefit is supplemental to the surviving child benefit. Each surviving child is eligible to receive $5,000 per year for up to 4 years of education beyond high school.
- The dependent parent benefit was established for members who are unmarried at the time of death and have no children under the age of 21, but have a parent who is dependent upon them for his/her livelihood. The amount of the dependent parent pension is the same as the amount that would have been allocated to a surviving spouse.
- The pensioner death benefit of up to a maximum benefit of $10,000 will be paid to the surviving spouse or, if none, to the designated beneficiary.
- Your Disability Benefit is your Compensation Base on which Dues were paid, excluding any amount in excess of $70,000, during the 12-month period immediately preceding the date of Disability multiplied by:
- 60% for the first 12 months of Disability, and
- 40% for each month of Disability thereafter.
- Dues must have been paid for a year immediately prior to becoming disabled on a monthly salary of $125 or more. All dues are waived during disability, and pension credits continue to accrue as if full dues were paid on the annual compensation base used to determine the disability benefit.
*Available for active members only.
View more FAQs on our General FAQs page.
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* Median total retirement income; Source: Social Security Administration, “Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2014.” April 2016. Table 3.a5, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/doc...