Status of Church Plan Litigation

Below is a summary of current and recent church plan cases.   Case  . Ruling/Status   Result   Chavies v. Catholic Health East District Court: Eastern District of Pennsylvania Jurisdiction: 3rd Circuit Year filed: 2013 District court denied Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. The court ordered discovery on whether the sponsor there at issue, a large […]


The facts 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 covered by church pension plans are denied the basic protections provided to virtually all other private-sector workers who participate in pension plans. Church plans: Do not have to give employees […]


Saint Peter’s University Hospital Retirement Plan: Responses to statements made in the February 24, 2012 letter and accompanying Q&A

This document is a direct response to the letter and Q&A sent out by Saint Peter’s University Hospital CEO Ronald Rac. Learn more by reading our fact sheet, Saint Peter’s University Hospital Retirement Plan: The law and the facts. 1.  Statement:  In his February 24 letter Ronald Rak states that Saint Peter’s University Hospital “will seek a […]


Saint Peter’s University Hospital Retirement Plan: The law and the facts

In a letter dated February 24, 2012 to all Saint Peter’s University Hospital Retirement Plan participants, Ronald C. Rak, the hospital’s President and CEO states that a “a review undertaken by our outside pension consultants and attorneys has made clear that Saint Peter’s pension plan has never been – and is not currently – an ERISA […]


Workers covered by church plans tell their stories

Below are stories from people who have suffered because of their penion plan’s status as a “church pension plan”. Linda Ponce | Lake Hiawatha, NJ I was an employee of the Hospital Center at Orange in New JerseyJ for 27 years, until the hospital was closed 7 years ago. Through the years we were always told that […]


What is a church pension plan?

A church pension plan is a retirement plan that is established and maintained by a church for its employees. The term “church” applies to all religious denominations, and the term “employees” includes both clergy and lay employees. Church plans that are established and maintained by a church can also cover the employees of hospitals, schools, […]


Why does it matter if a pension plan is a church plan?

Church pension plans can choose to be covered by the federal private pension law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code. However, most choose not to be. Without the protections provided by federal laws, these plans: Have no funding requirements.  Unlike other private pension plans, church plans are […]


Why are church plans not covered by federal laws?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) provided federal protections for all private-sector pension plans with one exception, plans established and maintained by churches for their own employees. According to a Senate report, the exception was included because lawmakers were concerned that the review of a church’s books and records by the federal pension […]


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

Employees and retirees in “church plans” are organizing to protest that they are unfairly, and in some cases illegally, being denied the pension protections that other private sector employees have. They are using different strategies. Some are relying on publicity and social media while others have filed lawsuits. Still others are urging government agencies to […]


The legislative history of church pension plans

Below is a brief summary of the law, legislative history, and rulings related to church plans. The 1974 private pension reform law, ERISA, provided a permanent exemption from the law for pension, health and other benefit plans established and maintained by a church for its employees. This permanent exemption did not apply to plans for […]


What are the types of church pension plans?

Many pension plans claim to have “church plan” status. Some are the types of plans Congress intended to exempt from the law. Others are not. This fact sheet describes the types of pension plans that claim to be church plans. The Pension Rights Center takes the position that there are only two types of church […]


Church Plans Can Leave Retirees Out in the Cold

Learn how one group of private retirement plans have little-to-no protections for the workers and retirees who are covered by these plans. What happened? In late 2009 Augsburg Fortress, the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, announced in a letter to employees that it would terminate its traditional pension plan, affecting approximately 500 workers […]