Retirement 403(b)

The RCA 403(b) Retirement Program is the primary retirement plan administered by BOBS. It meets the requirements of section 403(b) of the IRS Code.

Looking for information about the RCA’s legacy retirement plan, the primary plan before 2005? You can find that information on the RCA Retirement Plan page.

For all the legal information about the RCA (403) Retirement Program, read the plan document

Managing your account

You can manage much of your account through the Fidelity NetBenefits website. Fidelity is the custodian of the RCA 403(b) Retirement Plan.

Visit Fidelity NetBenefits

For questions about how to enroll, make contributions, and other specific situations, the BOBS team can help. Find answers to many of your questions below.

Have a question that’s not answered here? Contact Thos Shipley, retirement program plan administrator for the RCA at tshipley@rca.org.

History of the plan

All employer contributions and employee salary deferrals made since January 1, 2005, have been credited to the RCA 403(b) Retirement Program. Up until December 31, 2004, this plan only accepted salary deferrals. Because of a law that the U.S. Congress passed in October 2004 that affected the RCA Retirement Plan, and in order to provide enhanced benefit security, the Board of Benefits Services decided to create a program so all future contributions, both employer and employee, would be unified.

General Questions

Who is eligible to participate in the RCA 403(b) Retirement Program?

An RCA minister is eligible and required to participate when serving an RCA church or institution. Lay employees and non-RCA ministers are eligible to participate when serving an RCA church or institution with the written authorization of their employer.

How do I enroll in the RCA 403(b) Retirement Program?

Your employer will need to complete the Participant Information Form and return it to BOBS. For security reasons, please return the form to us either by fax or mail. You will be enrolled in a retirement age target Fidelity Freedom Fund Class K which you may change once enrolled. Fidelity will contact you with instructions on how to complete the enrollment process. BOBS will notify your employer that you are enrolled and you may begin making contributions.

For you to enroll, your employer must have an RCA 403(b) Adoption Agreement on file, and all contributions must be consistent with it. If your employer doesn’t have the agreement on file, please have them complete the RCA 403(b) Adoption Agreement according to the Adoption Agreement Instructions, then return a copy to our office and keep the original in their files.

How do I contribute to my retirement account?

You can contribute pre-tax dollars to your account by deferring part of your salary. There are two ways to do this: 

  1. Download and complete the Salary Reduction Agreement. Give the original to your payroll person, return a copy to BOBS, keep a copy for your records.
  2. Through the Fidelity NetBenefits site. Fidelity will transmit your salary deferral election to RCA Retirement Services who will report your election(s) to your treasurer or payroll person.
    • Log into your account.
    • Click on the account balance.
    • Click the RCA 403(B) Quick Links drop down menu
    • Click “Contribution Amount”
    • Click “Contribution Amount and Catch-up Contributions”
    • Make your salary deferral contribution elections 
    • Click “Change Contribution Amount”

Keep in mind that the IRS sets limits on how much you can contribute to a retirement account. Be sure to check the IRS website for this year’s contribution limits. Use this Employee Contributions Calculator to confirm that your contributions don’t exceed the limits.

How do I take out a loan?

Contact Fidelity Investments at 800-343-0860 or log onto www.fidelity.com/atwork. To assist employers with the compliance of the 403(b) regulations, BOBS will contact employers when participants initiate and receive plan loans.

I am not 59.5 years of age yet and am currently experiencing a financial hardship. How do I receive a one-time distribution?

Please note that Section 7.10 of the plan document lists the circumstances under which hardship distributions are available from part of your employer and employee contributions. Please refer to the plan document for full details. For board approval, write to the Board of Benefits Services, stating nature of emergency and the amount needed to satisfy need. An itemized list may be necessary to avoid a distribution that exceeds financial need. To assist employers with the compliance of the 403(b) regulations, BOBS will contact employers when participants initiate and receive hardship distributions. You will also need to complete the 403(b) Distribution Form.

I am currently employed or in ministry, at least 59.5 years of age, and not yet retired. How do I receive a portion of my RCA 403(b) Retirement Program?

You may receive a lump sum distribution of some or all of your employee contributions and/or, at any time, regardless of age, request a withdrawal of all or a portion of your Rollover Contributions and Roth Rollover Contributions and any earnings thereon. Complete the 403(b) Distribution Form.

What happens if I am no longer employed by an agency of the RCA or any of its affiliates?

Applicable only to lay employees or ministers ordained in other denominations. 

We will need confirmation from your employer of your date of termination before you are eligible for a full payout. You will also need to complete the 403(b) Distribution Form.

What happens if I’ve gotten divorced?

If the Judgment of Divorce calls for a division of the RCA 403(b) Retirement Program, follow the steps laid out here.

Questions for retirement

I am retiring. How do I begin distributions from my RCA 403(b) account?

If you are an ordained RCA minister: You must officially retire with your classis, which will then inform the General Synod Office before you are eligible for retirement distributions. After we have received the appropriate confirmation of your retirement, you will need to fill out the RCA 403(b) Retirement Program Distribution Form. Ministers should follow the instructions for ministers for filling out the form.

You are entitled to receive a one-time, lump sum distribution of up to 25 percent of your employer contributions. All remaining employer contributions must be paid over a period in excess of 10 years. Retired ministers are eligible for a housing allowance. See below for instructions on claiming a housing allowance in retirement.

You may also want to update your beneficiary designation.

If you are a lay person or non-RCA ordained: We will need written employer notification of your termination or retirement before you are eligible for retirement distributions. Your RCA employer should complete the Participant Retirement/Termination Notification Form and return it to the BOBS office.

After we have received confirmation of your retirement, you will need to fill out the RCA 403(b) Retirement Program Distribution Form. Lay people and ministers ordained in other denominations should follow the instructions for lay and non-RCA ordained employees for filling out the form.

You may also want to update your beneficiary designation.

How do I set up direct deposit for my recurring retirement distributions?

Set up electronic funds transfer (EFT) by mailing a completed Electronic Funds Transfer Application, along with a voided check, to BOBS. Please note that this service is not available for one time distributions.

How do I change the amount of my distribution?

Complete the 403(b) Distribution Form. Employer contributions must be made over a period in excess of 10 years.

Questions specific to RCA ministers

I’m a retired RCA minister. How do I designate a housing allowance on my 403(b) distributions?

One of the benefits of the 403(b) is that ministers can continue to claim a housing allowance in retirement. Each year, the BOBS board publishes a letter declaring that up to 100 percent of income from both RCA retirement plans for the next year may be eligible as housing allowance. (This is in accord with Section 107(1) of the federal tax code.)

However, it’s the responsibility of you, the individual tax filer, to determine what portion of your RCA retirement compensation can be claimed upon tax filing. Below you will find the annual housing allowance letters for the last several years as well as a housing allowance letter for retirement plan income in the current tax year. You may download and print the appropriate letter for your tax advisor or to submit with your tax filing.

2020 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2020)
2019 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2019) 
2018 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2018) 
2017 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2017) 
2016 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2016) 
2015 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2015) 
2014 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2014) 
2013 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2013) 
2012 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2012) 
2011 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2011)
2010 housing allowance letter (for the tax year 2010)

What happens if I’ve been demitted from my classis and no longer serve as an RCA minister of Word and sacrament?

Your classis will notify the General Synod Office. Full payouts are only eligible after the General Synod Office confirms the demission. You will also need to complete the 403(b) Distribution Form.

Have a question?

We are here to help!

Board of Benefits Services
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1606
New York, NY 10115
retirement@rca.org
866-221-5480