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Pension benefit formula to get adjustment
CPG president Sullivan say pension fund is blessing and responsibility

2/27/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA -- The Church Pension Group is about to  announce the first adjustment to the way it calculates pension  benefits in more than 20 years, Dennis Sullivan, the fund president  told the annual meeting of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal  Parishes February 24.

A detailed announcement will be made soon, but Sullivan said the change means a “meaningful across-the-board increases” in benefits.  Clergy with a history of very low compensation will see the biggest  increases, averaging 18 percent. Those with the highest earning  history will have an average 12 percent increase.

Sullivan said the decision is one of many the pension fund has made  in recent months in response to its excellent financial picture. As  of the end of 2005, Sullivan said, the fund had an all-time high of  $7.6 billion available for pension benefits plus sizable additional  reserves.

This bottom line is unlike that of the top 100 pension funds in the  United States. Most of those funds have liabilities that far outstrip  their assets and the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty  Corporation says the U.S. faces a $450 billion such gap, Sullivan said.

Saying that the fund is “not in the business of amassing assets just  for the sake of amassing assets,” Sullivan said the board’s recent  decisions are putting the money to work. They include

+ “meaningful enhancements” to benefits in Province IX and otheroverseas dioceses,

+ a cost-of-living increase for the 27th year in a row,

+ the annual Christmas benefit, known as the “13th check” and

+ the “14th check,” a one-time supplement in January to help offsethigher energy costs.

The January check taught the staff two things about recipients. “One,  our beneficiaries do not read their mail and, two, that they are  wonderful people,” Sullivan said.

Despite enclosing an announcement of the impending 14th check with  monthly checks in the fall, “the phones lit up” in January when the  supplement arrived in people’s mailboxes. “And most of those people  were calling to give the money back,” he said, insisting that there  had been a mistake.