When to Retire and Start Annuity Benefits

If you are a UCC clergyperson pondering the optimal timing for your retirement to begin receiving monthly annuity benefit payments, the decision is an important one that carries significant weight, and can impact your financial security.

Whether you decide to retire early, at 65 or beyond, explore these considerations, so you can make discerning choices that resonate with your financial objectives and retirement aspirations.

asian senior couple using a digital tablet at home

The normal retirement age for members of the Lifetime Retirement Income Plan for the United Church of Christ is 65 years-old, but retirement and benefits may begin either before or after that age, as explained below. Retirement effective dates are always the first day of the month. The later you begin to receive annuity payments, the larger they will be. If you die at any time before annuity payments begin, your full accumulation is payable to the beneficiary you have designated, generally as a monthly annuity.

Retirement Before Age 65

You can start your annuity income benefit before age 65 if you are age 55 or older and will either permanently terminate all employment with your employing UCC church or other participating employer, or work no more than 20 hours per week. Your benefit can start as early as the first of the month following your termination of employment or your commencing part-time employment.

Early retirement benefits will be considerably smaller than for retirement at an older age. At early retirement, smaller accumulations, resulting from fewer years of investment earnings and contributions, must be paid out over many more years of assumed life expectancy. Monthly benefits starting at 60, for example, are typically 40% to 50% smaller than those starting at 65.

Health is an important consideration to those wanting to venture into early retirement. If your health is satisfactory, you may decide to delay taking your annuity benefit until you have the adequate funds to provide for your retirement needs without outside employment.

The cost of health insurance coverage is another important factor. Before you become eligible for Medicare at age 65, premiums are considerably higher than for UCC Medicare Supplement Health Plan coverage at 65 and older. Click here to learn how much Medicare costs.

Retirement At or After Age 65

At any time after you reach age 65, you can start your monthly annuity income benefit or delay the start of your benefit. Please contact the Pension Boards’ Member Services team (1.800.642.6543) with your instructions on when to begin payments. If you continue in UCC employment beyond age 65, your pension plan participation can continue.

Here too, of course, the deferral of the annuity starting date has a powerful upward leverage on the amount of the monthly annuity payable at the later age.

Under the current law, your annuity benefits must begin no later than April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which you reach age 73. However, if on April 1 you are still employed in the denomination, you can delay the start of payments while such employment continues. Additionally, if you retire but later become employed in the UCC, your employer may contribute to your Lifetime Retirement Income Plan account.

Take Action. For additional questions on how to transition to retirement, you can reach our Pension Counselors who are available by appointment. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or schedule an appointment using this link. You can also bookmark our events page for upcoming bi-monthly seminars on Planning for the Transition to Retirement, which are led by our Pension Counselors.

Travis Marks
Travis Marks, CFP®, CFA®, is the Director of Generations University for the Pension Boards, responsible for the education initiatives for Pension Boards members, employers, and internal staff. Prior to joining the Pension Boards, Travis worked as Senior Manager of the National Financial Education Practice (FEP) for PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has more than 16 years of financial planning, education, and management experience, and has a passion for helping people improve their finances.
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