Is my congregation’s professional staff eligible for the Reform Pension Plan?

Eligibility for participation in the Reform Pension Plan, a defined contribution, 403(b) plan, requires that the individual is a member of their appropriate Reform Movement professional organization participating with the RPB and be employed by a URJ-affiliated congregation. In addition, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations such as federations, Jewish community centers, etc. may also be considered eligible employers. Membership in or employment by the following organizations qualify for eligibility:

  • Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
  • Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
  • National Association for Temple Administration (NATA)
  • Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE)
  • Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ) (Assistant Directors and Directors only)
  • Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools (PARDeS)
  • Program and Engagement Professionals of Reform Judaism (PEP-RJ)
  • Advancing Temple Institutional Development (ATID)
  • Reform Pension Board (RPB)

Why should our congregation participate in the RPB programs?

The RPB pension, life insurance, long-term disability and pension continuance plans are valuable tools for congregations to attract and retain staff members. We assume the management of your professionals’ retirement and insurance programs allowing you, the congregational leader, and your professional staff to focus on the congregation’s programs and services.

The additional benefits for congregations participating with the RPB include:

  • Full legal, administrative and investment management of their staff’s pension plan
  • Personalized service from professional RPB staff
  • Flexible payment schedules
  • Simplified account management through the RPB Pension Tracking System
  • Congregations proportionally fund their share of the professional’s plan, covering only the time that the participant is in their employ
  • A record of success providing strong returns
  • A comprehensive long-term disability plan
  • Free term life insurance for active plan participants
  • Free pension continuance insurance for plan participants who become disabled
  • Financial planning tools and information for participants and their spouses/partners through Ceridian Lifeworks
  • 1099-R tax form preparation for retirees
  • Parsonage facilitation for retired clergy

How much will it cost my congregation to participate in the Reform Pension Plan?

There is no administrative cost to congregations to participate in the RPB pension plan. Congregations only have to make the contributions for its RPB participants. The RPB is responsible for all of the legal, administrative and monitoring of investments for the plan.

Fees for participating in the Reform Pension Plan vary depending on the participant’s fund election. Fees are expressed as a percentage of a participant’s account balance in basis points. (One basis point is one hundredth of a percent.)

Click here to see the fees for the plan’s funds.

How much money is my congregation expected to contribute on behalf of a participant?

The RPB recommends that the congregation make an annual contribution of at least 15 percent of the participant’s salary, including parsonage, if applicable.The RPB also recommends that the participant make an annual contribution, called an elective salary deferral, of no less than 3 percent of salary, including parsonage, if applicable, which the participant’s employer deducts from his or her salary on a pre-tax basis.The RPB reviewed its recommended contribution rates. The RPB commissioned Summit Strategies Group, its independent investment consultant, to conduct an objective evaluation. Click here to read the summary document, which includes Summit’s detailed report and other supporting documents: Evaluation of Recommended Contribution Percentages.Congregations and participants can contribute more than the RPB’s recommended amounts to the pension plan up to the IRS maximum contribution limits. There are no minimum pension contribution requirements for the Reform Pension Plan.

Why is the recommended combined annual contribution 18%?

The RPB reviewed its recommended contribution rates. The RPB commissioned Summit Strategies Group, its independent investment consultant, to conduct an objective evaluation. Click here to read the summary document, which includes Summit’s detailed report and other supporting documents: Evaluation of Recommended Contribution Percentages.

My congregation cannot make a one-time upfront contribution payment to the RPB. How can we balance our congregation’s financial needs and our responsibility to our professionals?

The RPB understands that many congregations require financial flexibility to make their pension contributions. Pension contributions are invoiced at the beginning of each plan year (July 1st), and flexible payment arrangements can be made throughout the year through use of the Internet-based RPB Pension Tracking System.

What is the RPB Pension Tracking System and how does it affect my role as a Congregational Leader?

The RPB provides authorized congregational representatives with access to the RPB Pension Tracking System. This online system allows congregations to manage their RPB contributions on behalf of their staff members. Benefits of the Pension Tracking System include:

  • Information can be entered directly online by authorized congregational representatives
  • Congregational leaders have immediate access to all necessary information
  • Payment schedules can be entered into the system, and one-time payments can be made at any time
  • Payments can be made electronically using the ACH (Automated Clearing House) system
  • Payment schedules and one-time payments can be easily changed up to one day prior to the transaction

Does the RPB offer life insurance?

RPB participants who have a combined annual pension contribution paid on their behalf of at least 10 percent of their salary (including parsonage, if applicable) by their congregations/employers are eligible to purchase optional life insurance. This insurance coverage, which is in addition to the free basic life insurance coverage, can be purchased in increments of up to five times their salary to a total maximum amount of $600,000. Participants enrolling in the pension plan for the first time may purchase life insurance coverage equal to two times salary up to $300,000 without completing the insurance carrier’s Statement of Health form. Participants who want to purchase life insurance coverage in an amount greater than two times salary up to $300,000 must complete the insurance carrier’s Statement of Health form and be approved by the insurance carrier for the coverage.

Participants who decide to increase their life insurance coverage after their initial enrollment, or who decide to purchase optional life insurance at a later time, will have to complete the insurance carrier’s Statement of Health form and submit it directly to the insurance carrier. Please contact the RPB office to request the form. Upon notification of approval by the insurance carrier, the RPB will send an invoice to the participant for the premium that is due. Once the payment is made, the insurance policy will be in full effect.

For further information on the RPB life insurance program, please visit the Life Insurance section of our website.

Does the RPB offer long-term disability coverage?

Long Term Disability (LTD) coverage, unlike the pension and life insurance programs that have restrictive eligibility criteria, is available to all employees of URJ-affiliated congregations who work at least 18 hours per week. Having sufficient income replacement coverage is extremely important in the event that an employee has a disabling injury or illness. For more information on long-term disability coverage, please visit the LTD section of our website.

What is the RPB’s relationship with the URJ and CCAR?

The Reform Pension Board serves the congregations and institutions of the Reform Movement and is technically a joint trust of the CCAR and the URJ. The CCAR and URJ are known as the settlors of the trust. All revisions to the RPB Plan must be approved by the boards of each settlor; however, the RPB is a separate organization and ultimately, the RPB is responsible for the management and administration of its pension, life and long-term disability programs.

Who should I contact to receive more information?

If you have further questions, please contact the RPB staff at PensionBoard@rpb.org or by clicking on the “Contact Us” section of our website. We value your input and look forward to hearing from you.