Your pension grows through annual pension credits for each year of eligible plan participation and through experience apportionments. If you are a minister of the Word and Sacrament, you are vested — you own your benefit — as soon as you are enrolled. If you are an employee other than a minister, you become vested after three years of eligible service or at age 65.
During each year you are enrolled in the Defined Benefit Pension Plan, you accrue pension credits equal to the greater of
Your pension participation basis is the greater of your effective salary (up to the IRS maximum of $330,000 in 2023*) or 25 percent of the congregational ministers' median.
*Up from $305,000 in 2022; 2024 maximum will be released by the IRS in late 2023.
Experience apportionments are discretionary increases in pension credits or benefits depending on your employment status:
The Board of Pensions grants experience apportionments, when financially possible, in accordance with the apportionment guidelines and at the sole discretion of its Board of Directors.
Each year, the Board of Directors uses the apportionment policy to determine whether to grant an apportionment and, if so, what it will be. The policy takes into account the pension plan objectives, seeking to balance short- and long-term goals:
Solvency, or plan funding status, is the primary factor that drives the determination. A funding status of 100 percent — fully funded — means that assets in the plan are able to meet current and future benefits obligations. The greater the funding status, the more opportunity to grant an apportionment to help protect current and future retiree benefits from inflation with minimal risk to the plan.
If the pension plan is funded at
Vesting refers to a non-forfeitable right to a benefit. Ministers automatically become vested in the pension benefit when enrolled in the plan.
If you are an employee other than a minister, your pension credits accrued in the pension plan become 100 percent vested as soon as any of the following occur:
Even if you were not enrolled in the Benefits Plan, employment for at least 20 hours a week by an eligible employer counts toward vesting in the pension benefit if you were to be enrolled at a later date. Full-time attendance at seminary also counts for ministers who serve in a validated ministry of the Church following ordination.
To estimate your pension benefit at retirement, use the pension estimator on Benefits Connect. You can immediately view your estimated monthly pension benefit using different scenarios by varying the information you provide.