Individual Pension Benefits

an older woman in yoga clothes leaning against a body ball while sitting on the floor

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Your pension plan defines an age at which you can start to receive a pension without adjustment for either early retirement or deferred retirement. This is called your “pension eligibility date.” Under the PBSA, you can retire and commence receiving your pension at any time within 10 years of your pension eligibility date.

  • If you retire early, the amount of pension you receive may be adjusted. The adjustment in your pension, if any, will be described in the plan text document. If you retire early, the plan must pay your pension for a longer period of time, so the plan may reduce your pension, subject to the limits on these reductions set out in the PBSA. The maximum reduction is called the “actuarial equivalent” of the pension payable at age 65. If you have questions on the reduction that may apply to you, contact the pension plan administrator.

  • If you work past your “pension eligibility date” you may be able to continue to contribute to the plan or accrue additional benefits. Your pension plan may; however, stipulate a maximum number of years you can earn benefits under the plan, or a maximum pension that can be earned. Some plans may allow you to start receiving your pension after your pension eligibility date instead of earning more pension benefits. Your pension payments must commence no later than the end of the calendar year in which you turn 71. If you work past your pension eligibility date, the pension paid to you will be increased to reflect the deferral of your retirement.

  • Unless you qualify to unlock your pension benefits for reasons of financial hardship or under one of the four exceptions mentioned above pension benefits are always locked-in even if they are transferred out of the pension plan in which you were a member. The money must only be used for the purposes of providing a stream of retirement income.

  • In the past, some pension plans guaranteed payment only as long as the pensioner lived, leaving the surviving spouse with little or no income. A joint and survivor pension ensures that your spouse will receive at least 60% of your monthly pension payments, should you die first.

  • No. Only your spouse can waive their rights to a joint pension. To waive their rights your spouse must sign and approve Form 2, in the presence of a witness, no more than 90 days before you start to receive the pension. You are not permitted to be present when your spouse signs this form.

  • Yes. The PBSA defines a spouse to be a person who, at the time:

    • Was married to and living with you or, if recently separated, had been separated from you for less than two years; or
    • The person with whom you have been living and cohabiting, in a marriage-like relationship, for at least two years immediately preceding the relevant date
  • Yes, the amount you receive will depend on the type of pension plan that your spouse belonged to and the provisions of that plan.

  • No. Survivor benefits do not cease upon remarriage.

  • If the pension plan in which you are a member allows you to do so, you may suspend your participation in a pension plan while still employed.

  • If you have suspended your participation, you must be given the option to rejoin the plan effective January 1 or July 1 of any year while you are employed.

  • The PBSA provides that if a pension plan member or former member dies before retiring, and has a spouse at the time of death, the preretirement survivor benefit must be paid to the spouse. Your spouse may however waive their right to your benefit by completing a Form 4. Please contact your plan administrator for a change of beneficiary form.

  • To determine how much your pension will be and when you can start receiving your pension benefit, please contact your plan administrator.