Skip to content

FAQs for working members

We’ve got the answers to your commonly asked questions

483557336

Your buyback questions

  • If you tell us you intend to pay for your leave before the deadline, you won’t need approval from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

    We’ll calculate a pension adjustment (PA) for each calendar year of your leave. This will reduce your RRSP contribution room, whether you pay for all, some or none of your leave. If the amount of your PA is greater than your RRSP contribution room, your contribution room will go to zero the following calendar year.

  • Because the expected improvement to the future value of your pension is greater than the actual cost of your leave.

    If you’re like many full-time teachers with a salary of about $85,000 and your leave costs about $10,000, your PA will be about $15,000.

    When you’re working and contributing to the plan, the T4 you receive from your employer every year includes a PA.

    Once you tell us you plan to pay for your leave (or you make a payment), we’ll send you an additional PA for each calendar year of your leave. We’ll issue this as a T4A within 30 to 60 days.

    If you’ve already filed your taxes for the year of your leave, you’ll need to fill out the T1 Adjustment Request form and file it with the CRA.

  • If you missed the deadline and still want to pay for your leave:

    1. Call us at 1-800-668-0105 to tell us you’d like to pay.
    2. We’ll prepare what’s called a past service pension adjustment (PSPA) and submit it to the CRA for approval. The CRA will compare the amount of this PSPA to your available RRSP contribution room.

    If your RRSP contribution room is greater than the value of your PSPA, they’ll likely approve the PSPA. We’ll send you a letter to let you know.

    If your RRSP contribution room is less than the value of your PSPA, they likely won’t approve the PSPA and will send you a letter to let you know. You’ll need to call us so we can talk about your options (make sure to have your letter from the CRA with you when you call). We may need to refund payments you've made for your leave.

    If your PSPA is less than your RRSP contribution room:

    • You’ll have enough contribution room to pay for your leave.
    • The CRA will reduce your contribution room by the size of your PSPA and you can go ahead and pay.

    If your PSPA is greater than your RRSP contribution room:

    • You may have still some wiggle room. You can generally go over your RRSP contribution room by up to $8,000 before the CRA will deny your PSPA.
    • If the CRA doesn’t approve your PSPA and you want to pay for at least a portion of your leave, consult a professional financial advisor to discuss your options.fund payments you’ve made for your leave.
  • It depends on how you pay.

    Paying in cash (online or by cheque)

    When you pay with personal, non-registered funds – whether online or by cheque – you’re eligible for a tax deduction. This deduction can potentially reduce your taxable income.

    You’ll receive a tax receipt in February for payments you made in the previous calendar year. You can use the information on this receipt to apply the deduction when you file your taxes. Keep in mind, you can only apply it to the year in which you made your payments.

    Your ability to deduct the full cost of your leave will depend on your taxable income in the year you make your payments. If the cost is greater than your taxable income, for example, you won’t be able to deduct the full amount.

    If you pay in cash:

    • You’ll receive a tax receipt to claim a deduction when you file your taxes.
    • You can’t carry forward non-deducted amounts to the following tax year.
    • There may be a greater tax benefit by paying in cash once you’ve returned to work and your taxable income is possibly higher.
    • It’s a good idea to consult a professional financial advisor about the optimal timing of cash payments.

    Paying with RRSPs

    When you pay with RRSPs, you’re moving funds from one kind of tax-sheltered retirement plan to another. As a result, you aren’t eligible for the same tax deduction had you paid in cash.

    If you pay with RRSPs: 

    • There’s no tax deduction.
    • You don’t regain RRSP contribution room.
    • Your financial institution may charge you administration fees.
    • You can’t withdraw the funds from your pension later. Once you transfer RRSP funds, you won’t see them again until you retire.

Your contribution questions

  • Take a look at the chart below to see how the contribution rates affect teachers at different salary levels.

    Annual salary Annual contributions
      2020* 2021**
    $30,000 $3,120 $3,120
    $40,000 $4,160 $4,160
    $50,000 $5,200 $5,200
    $60,000 $6,261 $6,240
    $70,000 $7,461 $7,414
    $80,000 $8,661 $8,614
    $90,000 $9,861 $9,814
    $100,000 $11,061 $11,014

    *Numbers calculated used the 2020 CPP limit of $58,700

    **Numbers calculated used the 2021 CPP limit of $61,600

  • The Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF) and the Ontario government have agreed their matching contribution rates shouldn't exceed 15% of base earnings above the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) limit. The CPP limit, which changes every year, is $61,600 in 2021. If rates would have to climb higher than 15% to keep the pension plan healthy, other alternatives would be considered.

  • No, contribution rates don't affect how much you're allowed to contribute to your RRSP. The government formula used to calculate your RRSP contribution room is based on the deemed value of the benefit you earn in Ontario Teachers'. It isn't based on how much you contribute to the plan.

  • You can contact the OTF or your affiliate pension representative.

  • Under Ontario's Pension Benefits Act, you can't pay for more than half of the value of the pension earned for service after 1986. Any excess amount is refunded to you (or your estate) on termination of membership, death or retirement.

  • No, our mandate and certain laws limit us to managing the Ontario Teachers' pension fund and administering the plan on behalf of members. For our plan to comply with current tax legislation in Canada and the U.S., we don't directly invest or manage personal investments of our members or their families. Other plans have different mandates.

    We continuously evaluate opportunities to enhance services for our members. However, there are no current proposals to allow members to make personal investments or additional voluntary contributions to the plan. These activities would require structural changes to our legislated mandate and to our organization.

  • In a legal strike or lockout, you continue to receive credit, but the salary lost during the strike isn't automatically included with your credit.

    If you're applying for a benefit and your best-five years' salary is affected by a legal strike, your affiliate will usually make pension contributions for the missed days so that your lost salary is included with your credit. If the affiliate doesn't pay the contributions, you can pay the contributions plus interest.

    If a work stoppage isn't a legal strike or lockout (and isn't otherwise pensionable under the plan), you don't receive credit or salary for the period, and have no ability to buy it back.

  • Participating in another pension plan during a leave could affect your taxes (don’t worry, contributing to the Canada Pension Plan or an RRSP doesn’t count). Call us if you worked, or are planning to work, during your leave.

  • A contribution discrepancy occurs when there is difference between your service credit and the associated contributions reported by your employer(s). It's a result of our plan's integration with CPP. On earnings below a certain level, pension contributions are made to both CPP and Ontario Teachers'. While you're contributing to CPP, your Ontario Teachers' contribution rate is lower. Once your earnings exceed the CPP threshold for that year, you stop contributing to CPP, and your Ontario Teachers' contributions increase.

    A contribution discrepancy must be settled before we can pay any pension benefits. Your payment is tax deductible and you'll receive a tax receipt from us to file with your income tax return. In the event of a contribution overpayment, you'll receive a refund which you must declare as income and for which you'll receive a T4A to use in filing your tax return.

  • When you work at multiple employers, each employer calculates your contributions based on your earnings at that employer only. Your employer may correctly deduct contributions from your pay based on a specific rate, when your combined income requires a higher rate on the earnings that exceed the CPP threshold. When this happens, you contribute less than you should to Ontario Teachers'. Conversely, when contributions were deducted at a higher rate instead of the lower required rate, you contribute more to Ontario Teachers' than you should, resulting in a refund of your excess contributions.

    Your employer can't anticipate or avoid this contribution shortfall. Only we can determine the difference when we combine your employment information.

Your annual statement questions

  • Sign in to your account and update your personal information.

  • The annual statement is a snapshot of your pension based on information up to the end of the 2020/21 school year. For an up-to-date pension estimate, sign in to your account and create custom scenarios using your pension calculator.

  • Sign in to your Buyback Centre. Make sure to review the cost, tax implications and deadlines before making any payments.

  • The date and amount shown on page 2 of the annual statement are your earliest unreduced pension start date and annual lifetime retirement pension. It’s there to show you when you could retire with no reduction to your pension and how much your pension will be, if you didn’t work past the end of the 2020/21 school year.

  • If you’re still eligible to transfer the commuted value (CV) of your pension, you can find the most current estimate in your account. Sign in, go to Your Pension and look for a link to access it.

    We used to provide CV estimates on the annual statement for informational purposes only. The amount constantly fluctuates, so it’s best to sign in and get the most current estimate if you’re considering a transfer.

    Make sure to consider these five important things before finalizing your decision. Contact us to discuss your options if you’ve stopped working in education.

  • Many of you have been wondering what impact the COVID-19 crisis will have on your future. When thinking of your pension, it’s important to remember:

    • long-term performance counts for pension plans, and
    • your pension is part of a defined benefit plan.

    Unlike RRSPs or defined contribution plans, pensions paid under a defined benefit plan are based on a formula of service and salary, not on the fund’s value on the day a person retires.

    We continue to have rigorous processes in place, shaped by robust governance and risk frameworks, and a team dedicated to serving the needs of our members. We’re confident our strong foundation and long-term investment strategy will see us through this turbulent period. 

Your tax questions

  • Sign in to your Document Centre in your online account to view your T4A(s) or tax receipt.

  • We’ll issue tax receipts for payments made in 2020 by the end of February 2021.

    Go to your Document Centre in your online account to view your tax receipt.

  • You received a T4A because you either told us you intend to pay for a leave or made payments toward a leave in 2020. In these circumstances, we're required to report a pension adjustment (PA) for the buyback on the T4A form. If the period of credit you’ve bought back falls in more than one calendar year, we’ll issue a T4A for each year affected.

  • Canada Revenue Agency uses PAs to calculate your RRSP contribution room. CRA’s website has information on how to report your PA and how this information is used by CRA.

    If the word “amended” appears at the top of your T4A, or if you’ve received a T4A for a year for which you’ve already filed a tax return, you must file a T1 Adjustment Request (T1-ADJ) with CRA for each year covered by the T4A.

    Check out CRA’s FAQs about reporting your PA or T1 adjustments.

    If you have questions about your tax situation, consider talking to a professional advisor or contact CRA.

  • You may be entitled to claim a deduction for your contributions to the registered pension plan. Please consult CRA’s website for more details.

    If you have questions about your tax situation, consider talking to a professional advisor or contact the CRA.

Your questions about retirement

  • No, your pension won't begin automatically. To receive your pension, you must apply for it online. If you apply after your resignation date, you may lose pension payments.

  • You can apply online up to four months before your pension start date. For example, if you're retiring in June, you can apply as early as March 1. Keep in mind, you should apply for your pension no later than the month following your last date of employment.

  • No, you can apply for your pension before you resign. Make sure you give your employer a resignation letter before your resignation date. If you're worried about us informing your employer about your resignation before you officially resign, don't be. Unless you're receiving long-term income protection (LTIP) benefits, or if you're currently on a leave, we won't contact your employer.

    To ensure you don't lose any pension payments, we encourage you to apply for your pension before you resign with your employer. If you apply after your resignation date, you may lose pension payments. And remember, the resignation date on your pension application must be the same date you include in your resignation letter.

  • If you want to be listed as "Retired" on the Ontario College of Teachers' public register, you can complete and return its Notice of Retirement form.

    For more information, please contact the College directly.

  • No. However, you can use RRSP funds to buy back credit for an eligible leave of absence. Acquiring more credit will increase the size of your pension. 

  • Gratuities are an employer benefit, not a pension benefit. Please contact your employer for information. 

  • Yes, provided you work more than 10 days during the year and start your pension at the end of the school year. However, if you begin to receive your pension before the end of the school year, you'll receive a partial qualifying year up to the date your pension starts. If you're considering retiring during the school year, sign in to your account to get a pension estimate.

  • If you're close to retirement and teaching on a part-time contract, supplementing your income with an occasional supply-teaching assignment may reduce your pension. In some instances, this can result in hundreds of dollars less in pension per year.

    The rate of pay for occasional teaching can be significantly less than the rate for part-time contract work. This can lower your annualized pensionable salary because both rates are used when determining your annual rate for that school year. Although the extra days increase your credit, if you're nearing retirement this can reduce your average best-five years' salary and result in a smaller pension.

    If you're close to retirement, our advice is to be cautious. Contact us before accepting an occasional teaching job to see how it could affect your pension.

  • If you plan on working, your arrangement to return to work in education has to be made after your pension starts.

    A resignation is considered valid only if:

    • Your employer confirms acceptance of your resignation without condition
    • No arrangement has been made to return to work in education, and
    • You have either received or arrangements have been made to pay any applicable gratuity
  • For some, it's better to retire in June than to wait and retire at their 85 factor a few months later. By doing this, you'll take a reduction to your pension. However, you'll gain extra months of pension income in July, August and September.

    Use the pension calculator to help you chart the right path to retirement.

  • You don't have to wait until August to retire. If you choose to retire in June, you'll continue to receive your salary throughout those last two months – it will have no effect on your pension. But remember, you must submit your resignation letter before June 30, and ensure your June 30 resignation date is also stated in your letter.

  • If you have no eligible spouse when you receive your first pension payment, you're automatically entitled to a 10-year pension guarantee at no cost. This means if you die before you've received 10 years' worth of pension payments, we'll pay the balance of the 10 years as a survivor pension to any dependent children or as a lump sum to your estate.

    If you die before retirement with no eligible recipients, your contributions plus interest before 1987 are paid to your estate together with a lump-sum payment representing the commuted value of the pension you accumulated from 1987 until your death.

  • Yes. Reductions for survivor pensions greater than 50% are permanent, even if your spouse predeceases you.

  • Not automatically. If a former spouse remains eligible, you can't designate a new spouse for a survivor pension. If you don't have an eligible former spouse, you can apply for a new survivor pension and your pension will be reduced to pay for it.

  • No. We're legally obligated to pay survivors directly. If the dependent child is 18 or older, the survivor pension will flow directly to him or her. If the child is a minor, we deposit payments with the Accountant of the Ontario Court (General Division) until the child reaches the age of 18, unless someone has become the child's legal guardian.

  • The 10-year pension guarantee and survivor pension are different post-retirement death benefits and should be considered separately.

    The 10-year pension guarantee only provides a benefit in the event of your death prior to receiving 10 years' worth of pension payments and then only for the remainder of the term. The survivor's pension is payable for the life of your spouse and for as long as your children remain dependents. The survivor pension represents a percentage of your pension.

  • We provide a bridge benefit, which is intended to supplement your retirement income until age 65 when you're eligible for an unreduced CPP pension. The month after you turn 65, or immediately if you start a CPP disability pension, the bridge benefit ends and your pension is adjusted. 

  • Your pension will still be adjusted the month after you turn age 65, even if you take your CPP early. There are some conditions for taking CPP early, so be sure to review the CPP website for more information.

    Your Ontario Teachers' pension adjustment takes effect before age 65 only if you die or begin to collect a CPP disability pension.

    For more information about your CPP pension, we recommend you go directly to the source. Visit the CPP website or call 1-800-277-9914.

  • Your Ontario Teachers' pension will be adjusted when you start a CPP disability pension. If you go on a disability pension, make sure to contact us and let us know immediately so we can make the necessary adjustments to your pension.

Your questions about designating a beneficiary

  • Your heirs could save time and money. Funds are paid directly to the beneficiary, without the delays or probate fees associated with the processing of an estate. Estate taxes are also avoided, although your heirs will pay tax on your death benefit.

  • You can designate or change your beneficiary through your account.

    If you choose to name multiple beneficiaries, any pre-retirement death benefit payable, for service that accrued after 1986, will be divided equally among your beneficiaries.

    In the absence of a designated beneficiary, any death benefit payable, after survivors have been taken into account, will go to your estate.

  • You can name a minor as your designated beneficiary. A child aged 18 or older receives survivor benefits directly, while payments for a minor child are provided to the court-appointed guardian of the child's property. If there's no guardian, benefits are paid into court until the child reaches age 18.

  • If you don't have an eligible spouse, dependent children or a designated beneficiary when you die, any benefits will be payable to your estate.

  • If you don't have an eligible spouse at the time of your death, a designated beneficiary receives a lump-sum payment equal to the commuted value of the pension you accumulated after 1986, minus the value of any child's pension that may be payable. Any death benefits payable for service before 1987 are paid to your estate, not your beneficiary.

  • A designated beneficiary exists only for pre-retirement death benefits. Post-retirement benefits are paid to your eligible spouse or, if you don't have one, to your dependent children and/or estate.

Your strike questions

  • Your time away from work is pensionable. Your employer will report a loss of salary, but not your absence. This means you'll continue to receive credit.

    This loss of salary affects your future pension only if:

    • It occurs within your best five years of salary (these are typically your last five years before retirement), or
    • You’re applying for a lump sum from the plan (i.e. terminating from the plan)

    What do you need to do?

    Nothing. Once you apply for your benefit, we'll notify your affiliate. In most cases, they'll top up contributions on your behalf. If they don’t, we'll contact you directly and give you the option to contribute for the loss of salary yourself. You'd pay your contributions and the employer matching contributions, plus interest.

  • No, you don’t have to wait to apply for your pension. If you’re retiring in June, you can apply for your pension as early as March 1. We’ll calculate your pension based on the information we have on file.

    Once an agreement is reached and your employer reports the revised contract information, we’ll recalculate your pension. If the new amount is different than the original amount, we’ll adjust your pension and credit you with the difference, retroactively and with interest, to ensure there’s no adverse effect. What do you need to do? Nothing. We'll work directly with your affiliate and your employer.

  • If you're working on contract or on a long-term occasional (LTO) basis, a strike day counts as a work day. Your time away from work is pensionable. Your employer will report a loss of salary, but not your absence. This means you’ll continue to receive credit in proportion to what you would’ve otherwise worked.

  • If you only work occasionally and aren't guaranteed to work on any particular day, strike days aren't considered a work day.

  • The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has two sponsors: the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) and the Ontario government. Any changes to the plan are the responsibility of our co-sponsors.