What will happen to your pension once you are gone? How do you ensure that your loved ones will be taken care of?
Your spouse, eligible children and in some cases, your beneficiary may be entitled to collect survivor benefits after your death.
A lifetime pension for your spouse
Who is a spouse and who is an eligible spouse?
Your spouse is the person to whom you are legally married or in a common-law relationship.
Common-law, for the purposes of the CAAT Pension Plan means a couple that has been living together for at least three years (or less if the couple has children).
If you had a spouse when your pension started, he or she will be your eligible spouse provided:
- You and your spouse were living together at the time your pension started (in other words, not “living separate and apart”),
- You and your spouse did not waive the Survivor Pension benefit at the time of your retirement using the applicable FSCO form. (Form 3 - Waiver of Joint and Survivor Pension), and
- Your former spouse did not waive the Joint and Survivor pension after you started receiving your pension, in accordance with the conditions set out in the applicable FSCO form (Family Law Form 8 – Post-retirement Waiver of Joint and Survivor Pension by the Former Spouse of a Retired Member on Spousal Relationship Breakdown).
If you did not have an eligible spouse when you retired, and you subsequently have a spouse at the time of your death, that spouse would be your eligible spouse, provided you and your spouse were living together.
What happens if your eligible spouse at retirement pre-deceases you?
If you have a subsequent spouse on your death, that subsequent spouse would be your eligible spouse, provided you and your subsequent spouse were living together.
What happens if you and your eligible spouse at retirement separate or divorce in retirement?
Your eligible spouse at the time of retirement remains the eligible spouse for the survivor benefit unless he or she has properly waived the survivor pension benefit as part of the separation. See FSCO Family Law Form 8 for the required conditions that must be met for a former spouse to waive his/her entitlement to a survivor pension as part of a post-retirement marriage breakdown.
If your eligible spouse at the time of your retirement has waived the survivor pension as described above, and you have a subsequent spouse on your death, that subsequent spouse would be the eligible spouse for the survivor pension, provided you and your subsequent spouse were living together at the time of your death.
If you’ve separated from the spouse you had at retirement or have a new spouse, be sure to contact the Plan as soon as possible, to ensure that the Plan’s records are kept up to date.
“Living separate and apart” does not include a situation where one spouse is in long-term care, or living away for some other reason. It refers to separate living arrangements where the intention is to end the marriage or common-law relationship.
The default spousal pension is 60% of the lifetime pension the retired member was receiving at the time of death. The bridge benefit is not part of the lifetime pension for the calculation of the survivor benefit. Inflation protection increases on the lifetime pension are part of the calculation of the survivor benefit. Since January 1, 1998, retiring members with an eligible spouse have had the option of selecting a 75% spousal pension in exchange for a lower pension for themselves. If the member dies before their spouse, their eligible spouse receives 75% of their lifetime pension at the date of death (this applies to the spouse at the time of retirement).
The spousal pension from the Plan is paid for the rest of the surviving spouse’s life
If your marital status has changed due to separation 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. This, however, is not a requirement for common law relationships. Read our pamphlet “Your pension and separation or divorce” to learn about the process to follow should you find yourself in this situation.
The common-law qualification period is moving to 3 years starting January 2018. Read more here.
Anne was married when she retired at the age of 62. A few years after her husband died, Anne moved in with her boyfriend and they have been living together for several years. Anne wonders if her boyfriend will be entitled to any survivor benefits from the Plan when she dies. She also wonders if she can leave any benefits for her 2 adult children.
Since Anne has been living with her boyfriend for more than three years, he is now considered her spouse for the purposes of the Plan. She must notify the Plan to let us know about her change in marital status. She can complete the Pensioner Change Request form or send a letter to the Plan, providing us with relevant details. She may be asked for a death certificate for her previous husband to help ensure that correct information is recorded.
Anne’s boyfriend will be entitled to a spousal pension worth 60% of Anne’s pension at the time of her death.
Anne’s children, however, are not eligible for a benefit from the Plan. Since they are not under the age of 18 they are not entitled to a children’s pension. And, although she can designate them as beneficiaries, they would not be entitled to any further benefit as Anne has been collecting her pension for more than 5 years.
If you were a retired member of the ROM Pension Plan on December 31, 2015, the provisions that apply to your pension may be different than those outlined on this page. Visit the ROM retired members page for details.