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If you die after you retire

When thinking about post-retirement survivor benefits for your loved ones, it’s important to know who’s eligible, what options you have and the impact your choices will have on your pension.

While these decisions must be made before you start your pension, they only become effective after you receive your first pension payment.

The rules around survivor benefits can be complex in certain circumstances. If your last credited service is prior to 1990, contact us for information on post-retirement death benefits.

Benefits at a glance

This chart summarizes the benefits payable to your eligible survivors in the event of your death after your first pension payment.

 Death before the 10-year pension guarantee period ends (with 10-year pension guarantee option selected)After 10-year pension guarantee period ends OR 10-year pension guarantee option not selected
Eligible spouse100% of your CPP-adjusted pension for the balance of 10 years’ worth of pension payments or to your eligible spouse’s date of death, if earlierLifetime survivor pension at 50-75% of your CPP-adjusted pension (based on the option you selected prior to starting your pension)
Dependent children (if there was no eligible spouse or after eligible spouse’s death)100% of your CPP-adjusted pension for the balance of 10 years’ worth of pension payments or to the date the last child is no longer dependent, if earlier50-75% of your CPP-adjusted pension until the last child is no longer dependent
EstatePresent value of remaining CPP-adjusted pension payments, within 10-year pension guarantee period paid as one lump sumNo amount remains for your estate if you die after the 10-year pension guarantee period

Small pension amounts

In some cases, the amount of the spousal survivor benefit may fall below our threshold for payment as a monthly pension and survivors will receive a lump-sum payment. For small pension amounts, the payment options vary depending on two factors:

  • The date you received your first pension payment (before or after July 1, 2012)
  • The age of your survivor (under or over age 71)

When we're informed of your death, we'll provide your survivor with their options and all of the information they need to receive their survivor benefit.

Eligible survivors

Your spouse or dependent children are eligible for a survivor pension. The amount of the pension is a percentage of what your pension would be after age 65, plus annual inflation increases.

Your eligible spouse

Your spouse is eligible for a survivor benefit if, at the time of your first pension payment, you:

  • Were married and not living separate and apart, or
  • Had been living together continuously for at least three years (or less if you're the parents of a child)

If you separate or divorce after receiving your first pension payment, your spouse remains eligible to receive a survivor pension.

Your dependent children

Dependent children may be eligible for a survivor pension when:

  • You don't have an eligible spouse when you die, or
  • Your surviving spouse dies while receiving a survivor pension

A child's default pension is 50% of your pension; however, if you had an eligible spouse at retirement, your child's pension is the amount your spouse was entitled to receive. 

  • If you have more than one dependent child, your benefit is divided equally and paid to each child for as long they remain eligible for benefits. Once one of your children ceases to be eligible, their portion of the pension is distributed equally among the remaining eligible children. Disabled children who are financially dependent may receive a survivor pension for life, as long as they continue to be disabled and not capable of gainful employment.

    For all children under age 18, the survivor pension is paid into the Accountant of Ontario Courts unless the child's guardian has been granted guardianship of the child's property by the courts. In these situations, the survivor pension is paid to the child's guardian.

  • Your surviving children are eligible to receive a dependent child survivor pension as long as they were dependent on you for support at the time of your death. They must be:

    • Under age 18, or
    • Age 18 to 24 and attending full-time, continuous education since age 18 or since the date of your death, whichever occurred later, or
    • Disabled (without interruption) since the date of your death
  • We consider the child dependent on you for support if you regularly and consistently contribute to the necessary maintenance, or the necessities of life, of the child.

    Necessities of life include food, clothing, shelter, medical care and/or transportation. You could contribute to a child's necessary maintenance by paying for certain items directly or by providing personal care and assistance that the child would otherwise need to purchase from a third party.

    It isn't necessary for the child to be entirely dependent on you. For example, the child may live in a different home from you and receive support from several sources. However, the availability and the amount of other forms of support are relevant in determining whether a child relies on support from you for their basic needs.

  • A child is disabled if they have a “severe and prolonged mental or physical disability.” The disability is considered to be severe if the person is incapable of regularly pursuing any substantially gainful occupation, and prolonged if it's likely to be long, continued, and of indefinite duration or likely to result in death.

    Please contact us if you have a disabled child and would like to know whether they might be eligible for a survivor pension; we can do a pre-assessment of your child's eligibility to assist you with your estate planning.

    The types of documents or information we may require to review entitlements for surviving dependent or disabled children can be found in the Survivor Pensions for Dependent Children fact sheet.

  • A dependent child survivor pension remains in pay for as long as there's at least one child who continues to be dependent. When the last eligible child ceases to be dependent, we must terminate the dependent child survivor pension.

    A disabled child is considered dependent only for as long as they continue to be disabled. We must terminate the survivor pension for disabled, dependent children if they:

    • Become gainfully employed, and/or 
    • Recover from their disability to the point that it's no longer prolonged

    In both of these situations, the child would no longer meet the requirement of being “disabled without interruption since the member died.”

  • When a child is no longer dependent, they must notify us to stop payment of their survivor pension. If they don't notify us and continue to receive survivor pension payments to which they aren't entitled, they must repay these payments, with interest.

    Please note that we may require a child, who's receiving a disabled dependent child survivor pension, to submit medical evidence confirming that he or she continues to meet the definition of disabled.

Your estate

If you don't have an eligible spouse when you start your pension, you're automatically entitled to the 10-year pension guarantee at no cost. If you die before you've received 10 years’ worth of pension payments, we'll pay the balance of the 10 years to your estate in one lump sum.

Any funds paid to your estate will be administered by your estate trustee(s) according to the guidelines you specified in your will. If you die before you can prepare a will, only a court-appointed estate executor can assume responsibility of your estate.

It's never too early to prepare a will. Creating a will is a good way to ensure any funds payable to your estate are administered according to your wishes. You can designate an estate trustee (or executor) as the person responsible for managing and controlling your estate's assets.