Survivor benefits

The CAAT Pension Plan, in addition to paying pensions to members once they retire, provides various survivor benefits upon your death. Knowing in advance what to expect from the Plan can help you protect your loved ones.

The pamphlet "Protecting your loved ones" provides you and your family details about the Plan's pre-retirement death benefits.

Prior to retirement, all Plan members are entitled to some form of survivor benefit. This includes members who die while employed at a college or participating employer as well as those who are on an approved leave of absence or disability leave. Former members who are eligible to receive a deferred pension are also entitled to some form of pre-retirement death benefit.

The following outlines the applicable survivor benefits if you were to die before retirement.


If you were an active member of the ROM Pension Plan on December 31, 2015, and are still an active member, the provisions that apply to your pension may be different than those outlined on this page. Visit Active members – formerly ROM Pension Plan members for details.


What if I die before I retire?

If you have an eligible spouse on the date of your death, he or she is the sole recipient of the pre-retirement death benefit, and no other survivor benefits are paid. You may also name a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries for your pre-retirement death benefit; however, they can only receive the pre-retirement death benefit if you do not have an eligible spouse on the date of your death.

You should name as your designated beneficiaries the person or persons you would like to receive the pre-retirement death benefits in the event that you do not have an eligible spouse on the date of your death. If you do not have an eligible spouse on the date of your death and have not named any designated beneficiaries, the pre-retirement death benefit will be paid to your estate. Nevertheless, if you do not have an eligible spouse, but have eligible children on the date of your death (dependent children, under age 18), they receive a children’s pension, and the pre-retirement death benefit paid to your designated beneficiaries or estate will be correspondingly reduced.

Who is an "eligible spouse"?

Your spouse is the person (of either sex) to whom you are legally married or in a common-law relationship. The common-law qualification period is moving to 3 years starting January 2018. Read more here.

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse for the pre-retirement death benefit if:

  • You and your spouse are living together at the time of your death (in other words, not living “separate and apart”), and
  • Your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit.

Who are the eligible children?

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your son or daughter must be your biological or adopted child, under the age of 18, and dependent on you for support. If you have two or more eligible children, they will share the children’s pension until they turn 18. When a child turns 18, he or she is no longer eligible to receive the children’s pension, and the balance of the children’s pension is re-divided among any remaining eligible children. A legal guardian will collect the benefit on behalf of the eligible children.

For more details on how the pre-retirement death benefit is paid out, refer to the following examples and choose the situation that applies to you:

You have an eligible spouse (with or without eligible children)

If you have an eligible spouse at the time of your death, he or she is the sole recipient of the pre-retirement death benefit when you die, and no other survivor benefits are paid to anyone. The amount of the pre-retirement death benefit is based on the benefit you earned during your membership in the Plan.

Your eligible spouse has a few options for the collection of the pre-retirement death benefit:

  • An immediate pension
    The pre-retirement death benefit is paid as a monthly pension directly to your eligible spouse's bank account via direct deposit. This pension is based on the actuarial equivalent value of the pension you earned during your membership in the Plan. Your spouse will begin collecting effective the first day of the month following your death and will receive it for his or her lifetime. The immediate monthly pension is subject to any increases which may be granted each year due to inflation protection.
  • A deferred pension payable when your eligible spouse turns 65
    Rather than an immediate pension, your eligible spouse may opt to collect a pension starting at age 65. The deferred survivor pension is calculated the same way as the immediate pension. Payments begin when your spouse turns 65 and continue until your eligible spouse's death. This deferred pension is also subject to increases each year due to inflation protection.

In the event that your eligible spouse dies before starting the deferred survivor pension, the designated beneficiary of your eligible spouse will receive the commuted value of the survivor pension in one payment, called the Beneficiary payout.  (The commuted value is an actuarial calculation of what your future pension is worth today in a lump sum). If your eligible spouse does not stipulate a designated beneficiary, any entitlement will go to his or her estate.

  • Immediate lump sum payment
    Your eligible spouse may choose to receive a lump sum payment rather than collecting a pension. This benefit is the commuted value of the benefit you earned during your membership in the Plan. (The commuted value is an actuarial calculation of what your future pension is worth today in a lump sum). It can be taken as a cash payout that is taxable to your spouse. Your eligible spouse may choose instead to take the amount as a transfer into another eligible pension plan (if that plan allows) or into his or her RRSP or another retirement arrangement. Such transfers are tax exempt, subject to the approval of the Canada Revenue Agency and tax limits.

Excess contributions

If, when you die, you are entitled to receive excess contributions, they will be paid to the pre-retirement death benefit recipient (your eligible spouse or designated beneficiaries) in a lump sum. Excess contributions are refunded when the total amount of the contributions you made during your membership (plus interest) exceeds 50% of the commuted value of your benefit.

Your spouse dies while collecting a pension

Your spouse's pension will continue until his or her death, at which point it will stop. There is, however, a possibility that your spouse's designated beneficiary will be eligible to receive survivor benefits upon your spouse's death. If your spouse dies before 60 months’ worth of pension payments have been made, a payment of the difference between that amount and the amount your spouse received will be made to your spouse's beneficiary or estate.

You have eligible children but no eligible spouse

If you do not have an eligible spouse, your eligible child or children will receive a children's pension upon your death. This benefit is equal to 50% of the pension you earned during your Plan membership, until your death.

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your son or daughter must be your biological or adopted child, under the age of 18 and dependent on you for support. If you have two or more eligible children, they will share the children’s pension until they turn 18. When a child turns 18, he or she is no longer eligible to receive the children’s pension, and the balance of the children’s pension is re-divided among any remaining eligible children. A legal guardian will collect the benefit on behalf of the eligible children.

In addition to the children's pension, your designated beneficiaries (or your estate if you have not named any designated beneficiaries) may receive a lump sum payment. This payment is equal to the commuted value of the pension you accumulated up to your death, minus the commuted value of the pension the eligible children are entitled to receive.

Excess contributions

If, when you die, you are entitled to receive excess contributions, they will be paid to the pre-retirement death benefit recipient (your eligible spouse or designated beneficiaries) in a lump sum. Excess contributions are refunded when the total amount of the contributions you made during your membership (plus interest) exceeds 50% of the commuted value of your benefit.

You have no eligible children and no eligible spouse

Your designated beneficiaries are the person (or persons) chosen by you to receive pre-retirement death benefits upon your death. By naming designated beneficiaries, a benefit will go to the person of your choice, rather than to your estate.

Your designated beneficiaries can be anyone you choose - a child or other relative, a family friend or associate. If you name more than one designated beneficiary, the benefit will be split among them in the manner dictated by you. (Please note that if you name more than one designated beneficiary, the percent share given to each must total 100%.)

Your designated beneficiaries (or if there are no designated beneficiaries, your estate) are eligible to receive a lump sum payment if you die before retiring. This payment is equal to the commuted value of the pension that you accumulated during your Plan membership.

Excess contributions

If, when you die, you are entitled to receive excess contributions, they will be paid to the pre-retirement death benefit recipient (your eligible spouse or designated beneficiaries) in a lump sum. Excess contributions are refunded when the total amount of the contributions you made during your membership (plus interest) exceeds 50% of the commuted value of your benefit.


The importance of having designated beneficiaries

No matter what your marital status, naming a designated beneficiary in the CAAT Pension Plan is important. Having a designated beneficiary will ensure that your pension benefits are paid in accordance with your wishes if you die before you retire (and do not have an eligible spouse).

What’s the difference between an eligible spouse and a designated beneficiary?

Under the CAAT Pension Plan, if you have an eligible spouse when you die, that eligible spouse is the sole recipient of your pre-retirement death benefit in the Plan and no other death benefits are payable to anyone else from the Plan.

If you don’t have an eligible spouse when you die, your eligible children under age 18 will receive a children’s pension, divided evenly between them and redivided as each one turns 18. In addition, your designated beneficiaries receive a beneficiary payout of whatever is left of the lump sum value of your benefit, minus the total value of the children’s pension. The children’s pension is the second priority for all benefits under the Plan.

If you have neither an eligible spouse, nor eligible children (under age 18) when you die, then the entire commuted value of your benefit is paid to your designated beneficiaries. We call this a beneficiary payout.

If your eligible spouse is also your named designated beneficiary, and you and your eligible spouse die at the same time, or your spouse dies before you, and you have no eligible children, your pre-retirement death benefit will be paid to your estate, which might not reflect your wishes and could complicate the settling of your estate.

By naming designated beneficiaries, distinct from your eligible spouse, you ensure that a benefit will go to the person or persons of your choice should you die without an eligible spouse.

The choice is yours. Some members name their favourite charities as their designated beneficiaries, some choose their children if they are over age 18. As part of your overall estate planning, you can think about who you would like to have any survivor benefits if you die before you retire.

We recommend against using your will to name your CAAT Pension Plan beneficiaries. It could cause unforeseen complications in the execution of your estate. Completing the Plan’s Change of Information or Beneficiary form ensures a seamless payment of the pre-retirement death benefit to the person or persons of your choice in the event a payout is made.

Note: Every new beneficiary designation replaces any old ones we have on file, so if you want to add a new designated beneficiary and share the benefit with them, you have to name all the previous designated beneficiaries as well.


Change in marital status

A change in marital status may have an effect on pre-retirement death benefit payouts. If you marry, separate or divorce, it is important to notify the Plan as soon as possible.

If you separate or divorce, be aware that under Ontario law, the value of the pension you earned while married must be included in the calculation of family property. Read our pamphlet “Your pension and separation or divorce” to learn about the process to follow should you find yourself in this situation.

In most cases, your written declaration will be adequate proof of marital status, however you may be asked for a birth certificate or marriage certificate to help ensure that correct information is recorded.

Spousal Waiver

If your spouse wishes to waive his or her rights to the pre-retirement survivor pension, the request must come directly from your spouse, using the applicable form (FSCO Form 4 Waiver of Pre-Retirement Death Benefit). It is in your spouse's best interest to receive independent legal and financial advice before making this decision.

To waive a post-retirement survivor benefit, the FSCO form must be submitted within the 12 month period before the pension begins (Form 3 - Waiver of Joint and Survivor Pension).

Please note that there is a different process for waiving the post-retirement survivor benefit once your pension is in pay. At that point, FSCO Family Law Form 8 would apply, and the survivor pension can only be waived in the context of a marriage breakdown.


Collecting survivor benefits

In the event of your death, we will assist your eligible spouse, or if you don’t have an eligible spouse, your eligible children or designated beneficiaries by outlining their options and providing all the necessary paperwork.

It will be important for your survivors to have access to the following documents in order to speed along the process:

  • Proof of age of the eligible spouse
  • Death Certificate

In the case of a children’s pension, the guardian will have to provide proof of age of each child, as well as written confirmation that there is no eligible spouse.

In the case of a payment to designated beneficiaries, each designated beneficiary will have to provide proof of his or her own age, and written confirmation that there are no eligible spouse or eligible children.


What if I die after I retire?

If you die after you retire, one of the following three situations will apply to you.

You have an eligible spouse

After your death as a retired member, your eligible spouse receives a survivor pension of 60% of your lifetime pension. If you have an eligible spouse when your pension starts, you can choose to reduce your pension permanently in exchange for an increase in the survivor pension to 75% of your lifetime pension. You must make this choice before the first monthly payment of your pension, and it cannot be changed once it is made.

If, when your eligible spouse dies, you have an eligible child (a dependent child, under age 18), that child will receive a children's pension equal to the spousal pension. If you have no eligible children, any balance of 60 months of your lifetime pension that exceeds the total pension payments made will be paid to your spouse’s designated beneficiary, if your spouse designated one, or to your spouse's estate.

Neither an eligible spouse nor eligible children

Your designated beneficiaries, if you have designated any, or otherwise your estate, will receive any balance of 60 months of your lifetime pension that exceeds the total pension payments made.

60 months minimum pension guarantee

The 60 months minimum pension guarantee is an addition to the Plan’s other survivor benefit provisions. The guarantee is that if, after all survivor pensions have been paid, the total amount paid is less than 60 times your initial monthly lifetime pension payment, then any remaining balance will be paid out. It can go to the designated beneficiary or, if there isn’t one, to the estate of the last pension recipient. The initial pension payment does not include any bridge benefit.

The 60 months pension guarantee is simply a guarantee that the pension payments paid to you and your survivors will total at least 60 times the amount of your first monthly lifetime pension payment.

No eligible spouse, but eligible children

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your son or daughter must be your biological or adopted child, under the age of 18, and dependent on you for support. If you have two or more eligible children, they will share the children’s pension until they turn 18. When a child turns 18, he or she is no longer eligible to receive the children’s pension, and the balance of the children’s pension is re-divided among any remaining eligible children. A legal guardian will collect the benefit on behalf of the eligible children. Your eligible children will receive the same amount as an eligible spouse would have received (divided into equal shares). The child’s pension stops when the child turns 18 - and when that happens, the pension will be re-divided among any remaining eligible children.

When your youngest eligible child reaches age 18, he or she (or if he or she died before reaching age 18, the estate) will receive any balance of 60 months of your lifetime pension that exceeds the total pension payments made.

 

Definitions

Who is an “eligible spouse”?

Your spouse is the person (of either sex) to whom you are legally married or in a common-law relationship at retirement. Common-law, for the purposes of the CAAT Pension Plan means a couple that has been living together for at least one year (less if the couple has children).

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse for the post-retirement death benefit if:

  • You and your spouse are living together at the time of your death (in other words, not living “separate and apart”), and
  • Your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit.

Note that two people are not considered to be living apart if one is living in a nursing home, or in some similar arrangement.

Who are the eligible children?

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your son or daughter must be your biological or adopted child, under the age of 18, and dependent on you for support. If you have two or more eligible children, they will share the children’s pension until they turn 18. When a child turns 18, he or she is no longer eligible to receive the children’s pension, and the balance of the children’s pension is re-divided among any remaining eligible children. A legal guardian will collect the benefit on behalf of the eligible children.