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.

This page outlines the applicable survivor benefits if you were to die before retirement, whether you are earning a pension in DBprime or DBplus. To learn about the survivor benefits available if you die after you retire, visit the Retired Members Survivor Benefits page.


If you work part-time or on contract, visit the DBplus page to discover how DBplus maximizes the lifetime pensions of members who work part-time or on contract.

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, they are the sole recipient of the pre-retirement death benefit, and no other survivor benefits are paid. The benefit is equal to the pension you earned in the CAAT Pension Plan up to your date of death. Your spouse has the option to choose their form of payment.

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), and your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia, 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 defined as the person to whom you are legally married or in a common-law relationship. Common-law is defined by your jurisdiction of employment.

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse for the pre-retirement death benefit if they meet the definition of spouse in your jurisdiction of employment, and your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment.

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

If you have an eligible spouse at the time of your death, they are 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 their pension effective the first day of the month following your death, and will receive it for the rest of their life. 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. This 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 their RRSP or another retirement arrangement. Such transfers are tax exempt, subject to the approval of the Canada Revenue Agency and tax limits.
  • If your jurisdiction of employment is Quebec, other payment options may be available to your surviving spouse. Contact the Plan for details.

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). 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. Depending on your jurisdiction of employment, there may be different payout options for the excess contributions.

If your spouse dies while collecting a pension

Your spouse's pension will continue until their 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 (Ontario and Nova Scotia only)

If your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia and 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. The pre-retirement death benefit paid to your designated beneficiaries or estate will be correspondingly reduced.

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your biological or adopted child must be 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, they will 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.

The pre-retirement children's pension only applies to members whose jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia. It does not apply in any other jurisdictions.

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). 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. Depending on your jurisdiction of employment, there may be different payout options for the excess contributions.

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). 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. Depending on your jurisdiction of employment, there may be different payout options for the excess contributions.


Designated beneficiary

Your beneficiary is the person(s) or entity you have designated to receive the pre-retirement death benefits in the event that you do not have an eligible spouse on the date of your death. As part of your overall estate planning, consider who you would like to have any survivor benefits if you die before you retire.

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?

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.

This is called 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, 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 do not recommend 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 Member Change of Information 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, the pension you earn may need to be included in the valuation and/or division of family property. Visit the Separation or Divorce page for more information.

Spousal Waiver

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse for the pre-retirement death benefit if they meet the definition of spouse in your jurisdiction of employment, and your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation.

If your spouse wishes to waive their rights to the pre-retirement survivor pension, the request must come directly from your spouse in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment. It is in the best interest of you and your spouse to receive independent legal and financial advice before making this decision.


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?

To learn about the survivor benefits available if you die after you retire, visit the Retired Members Survivor Benefits page.