How benefits are paid and your options

Your pension benefit is not paid automatically; you must apply for benefits and select a payment option.

Once you begin receiving your pension benefit, you cannot change your payment option, and you cannot stop your benefit except in cases where you may resume working for an eligible Church employer. Your payment options when you apply for your pension benefit are as follows.

Normal option

  • Joint and 50% survivor pension (normal benefit). If you retire at age 65, the benefit equals the total pension credits accrued on your retirement date divided by 12 (for monthly payments). You receive this pension for your lifetime. After you die, your surviving spouse receives 50 percent of the value of your pension credits for your spouse’s lifetime. If you do not have a spouse when you die, dependent children, parents, or siblings may be eligible for monthly benefits. Your monthly benefit is not reduced to provide this survivor benefit. It is called the “normal” form because it is the default option.

Other joint and survivor options

Other joint and survivor options allow you to choose a reduced monthly benefit in order to increase the benefit paid to your spouse (if you are married for one year or more before you die).

  • Joint and 75% spouse pension (option 1). You receive an adjusted monthly payment for life. After you die, your spouse, if then living, receives monthly payments of 75 percent of the monthly amount you received when alive.
  • Joint and 75% last to survive pension (option 2). You receive an adjusted or reduced monthly payment for your life. After you or your spouse dies, your survivor receives monthly payments of 75 percent of the monthly adjusted amount you or your spouse received when alive.
  • Joint and 66-2/3% last to survive pension (option 3). You receive an adjusted or reduced monthly payment for your life. After you or your spouse dies, your survivor receives monthly payments of 66 ² ⁄ ₃ percent of the monthly adjusted amount you or your spouse received when alive.
  • Joint and 100% last to survive pension (option 4). You receive an adjusted or reduced monthly payment for your life. After you or your spouse dies, your survivor receives monthly payments of 100 percent of the monthly adjusted amount you or your spouse received when alive.

Social Security Leveling Option

The Social Security Leveling Option of the Defined Benefit Pension Plan is designed to provide members who retire between ages 55 and 62 with a consistent total income before and after receiving Social Security benefits.

If you retire from active service before you are eligible to collect Social Security benefits, at age 62, and you are eligible to receive benefits from the pension plan, you can elect the Social Security Leveling Option at retirement.

There is no difference in the total amount received if choosing this option or electing to receive a pension before age 62 without “leveling.” However, this option may provide the flexibility and financial resources to retire earlier than otherwise.