Information in this section only applies to members with credited service for employment in education after 1986. If your last credited service is prior to 1987, contact us for information on pre-retirement death benefits.
Benefits at a glance
This chart summarizes the benefits payable to your eligible survivors if you die before receiving your first pension payment.
|Eligible spouse||Survivor pension (either immediate or deferred)|
Lump-sum payment (commuted value of your pension)
(if there was no eligible spouse or after eligible spouse's death)
|Designated beneficiary||Lump-sum payment|
When we’re informed of your death, we’ll provide your survivor with their options and the information they need to receive their survivor benefit.
Pre-retirement death benefits are paid in the following order:
1. Your eligible spouse
Your spouse is eligible for a survivor benefit if, at the time of your death, 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)
Your eligible spouse will have the choice of receiving the pre-retirement survivor benefit as a lump-sum payment or as a lifetime pension. They can transfer the lump-sum payment directly into an RRSP regardless of their available RRSP room.
Prior to your death, your eligible spouse can waive the right to the survivor benefit by signing a benefit waiver. The survivor benefit then falls to the next eligible recipient (dependent children and either beneficiary or estate).
A former spouse may be entitled to a portion of your pre-retirement death benefit if spelled out in a separation agreement or court order, providing the payment represents no more than 50% of your death benefit accrued during your marriage.
2. Your dependent children
The information in this section applies to surviving dependent children of members who had credited service in the plan on or after Jan. 1, 1990.
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
If you have more than one dependent child, your benefit is divided equally and paid to each child for as long as he or she remains eligible for benefits. Once one of your children ceases to be eligible, his or her 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.
If you die before your pension is put into pay, the amount of a dependent child survivor pension would be 50% of the pension that was or would have been paid to you after age 65.
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. He or she must be:
- Under age 18, or
- Age 18 to 24 and attending full-time, continuous education since age 18 or since you died, whichever occurred later, or
- Disabled, having been disabled without interruption since you died
- Under age 18, or
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 is not 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 his or her basic needs.
A child is disabled if he or she has 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 is likely to be long, continued, and of indefinite duration or likely to result in death.
We can’t pay survivor pensions to children under age 18. Instead, we must issue the monthly pension payment to the Accountant of the Ontario Court, who receives it on behalf of the child until age 18. If a guardian wants to receive the benefit payment directly, he or she must be granted a court order for guardianship of the minor's property.
In addition, we can’t take payment instructions from a child who is 18 years of age or older but is not capable of managing his or her own property. In these cases, we’ll seek direction from the person with legal authority to deal with the child's property. This includes a person whom the courts have appointed to be the guardian of the property of the child or someone with Power of Attorney for Property.
A dependent child survivor pension remains in pay for as long as there is 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 he or she continues 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 is 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 are not entitled, they must repay these payments, with interest.
3. Your designated beneficiary
Every active member of our plan should designate a beneficiary. This ensures your benefits are paid according to your wishes, should you die before you receive your first pension payment without an eligible spouse.
You can designate a beneficiary to receive the lump-sum payment representing the commuted value of your pension. If you have a dependent child, the lump sum for your beneficiary will be reduced by the value of the survivor pension to your dependent child.
A designated beneficiary is eligible only if you don’t have an eligible spouse and death occurs before you receive your first pension payment.
If you have an eligible child when you die, we will deduct the value of the child's survivor pension from the commuted value of your pension first, and refund the remainder to your beneficiary or your estate.
You can name more than one beneficiary – person(s), such as a child, or organization(s), such as a charity. If you choose to name multiple beneficiaries, any pre-retirement death benefit will be divided equally among your beneficiaries.
It's not necessary to name your spouse as your designated beneficiary because an eligible spouse will receive your survivor benefits. This automatic right to your pension is enshrined in provincial pension law. The only exception to this rule applies when a valid separation agreement or court order assigns part of your benefit to a former spouse.
By designating a beneficiary, you decide who should get your pension death benefits in case your spouse dies before you do.
If you want your children to receive the biggest death benefit possible, you must name them as your designated beneficiaries. Although dependent children automatically receive a survivor pension for as long as they qualify for it, there is often a benefit, in addition to their pension, to pay out. This benefit can be substantial if your dependent children are older and will qualify for a pension for only a few years.
Children who aren't dependent on you will not receive any benefits unless they are named as your designated beneficiary.
4. Your estate
If you don't have an eligible spouse, and you don’t name a beneficiary, your estate may receive a lump-sum payment. If you have a dependent child, then the lump-sum payment for your estate will be reduced by the value of your child's survivor pension.
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.