Church Pension Plans

Are you in a church plan?

What you need to know about church pension plans

Almost all private retirement plans are required to comply with federal pension and tax laws. There is only one major exception: Church pension plans.

Employees and retirees covered by church plans are denied the basic protections provided to virtually all other private-sector workers who participate in pension plans.

Most important, church pension plans are not required to be covered by the federal pension insurance program. What this means is that if your plan runs out of money, your pension could stop – even if you have been receiving payments for years.

Church plans also –

  • Do not have to give you information about your benefits or about plan investments
  • Do not have to pay benefits fairly
  • Do not have to be adequately funded

Church pension plans can choose to be covered by federal pension laws, but very few do.

Without federal pension protections, the rights of employees and retirees are determined by state laws. State laws do not provide the insurance or other protections of federal law.

Learn more about this issue

Click on the headings below to see more information.

What is a church plan?
How can you tell if you are in a church plan?
What can you do to protect yourself if you are in a church plan?

Church Pension Plans Highlights:

Fact Sheets and Issue Papers
09/15/14

The facts about church pension plans

Fact Sheets and Issue Papers
07/21/11

What are the types of church pension plans?

Fact Sheets and Issue Papers
07/21/11

What can you do to help protect employees in church pension plans?

The Latest on Church Pension Plans:

Blogs & Newsletters
09/18/19

St. Clare’s retirees take action to protect their pensions

By Kyle Garrett As the Pension Rights Center’s Operations and Referrals Manager, I hear from thousands of individuals each year. Over the past decade, many of these calls and e-mails have come from people who worked for religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, and social services agencies. These individuals – former orderlies, executives, nurses, social workers, and […]

Press Release
05/08/19

New Jersey hospital pensioners sue Newark Archdiocese

Former employees of Saint James Hospital filed a lawsuit on May 7 in the Superior Court of Essex County New Jersey alleging that the Archdiocese of Newark has wrongly denied them at least $2.7 million in lifetime pension benefits. The retirees’ complaint alleges that  their pensions were payable for life and fully protected by federal […]

Press Release
06/05/17

U.S. Supreme Court’s “church plan” decision leaves key issue undecided

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that pension plans with ties to religious organizations may not have to comply with federal pension law. Today’s ruling leaves it to lower courts to decide whether hundreds of thousands of people who thought they were guaranteed federal protections will receive the pensions they earned. “Today’s ruling […]

Blogs & Newsletters
12/01/11

Is your pension plan having a religious conversion? Here’s what you can do.

Have you received a notice informing you that your pension plan is seeking approval from the Internal Revenue Service to convert to a “church plan”?  Here’s what this means to your retirement – and what you can do about it. Many people who work for nonprofit organizations that are associated with religious organizations – hospitals, […]

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