Skip to content

Looking after loved ones

When you apply for your pension, you'll be asked to choose a survivor pension level if you have an eligible spouse.

The default amount of a spousal survivor pension is 60% of your pension. However, you may choose a higher or lower amount. You can change your option, but once we make your first pension payment it becomes irrevocable.

If you have an eligible spouse when we make your first pension payment, they’ll continue to be entitled to a survivor pension even if you separate or divorce. Contact us to learn about providing a new spouse with a survivor pension.

Find the right level for your situation

Everyone's situation is unique. When thinking about your options, ask yourself:

  • Do you expect to outlive your spouse?
  • Is your spouse financially dependent on you?
  • Are you okay with a larger permanent reduction to your pension in exchange for the long-term financial security of your spouse?
  • Will your spouse have other sources of retirement income after you die?

Nearly half of recent retirees who have an eligible spouse chose to lower the survivor pension to below the default of 60%. About 15% opted for a survivor pension level higher than the default. We recommend consulting a financial advisor to help you decide.

Opting for a lower level

If you choose to lower your survivor pension below 60%, we'll need a waiver signed by you and your spouse before we make your first pension payment.

But don't complete the form too soon. Why? The waiver is only valid for 12 months before your first pension payment. If you submit the waiver more than 12 months ahead, it’ll be invalid by the time your retirement rolls around.

Opting for a higher level

Your pension will be reduced to provide for a survivor pension higher than 50%. You can change it from the default of 60% up to 75%. Once we make your first pension payment, the reduction to your pension is permanent, even if your spouse dies before you or if you separate or divorce.

Use the pension calculator to see the impact of different survivor benefit levels on your pension.

10-year pension guarantee

If you die before receiving 10 years' worth of pension payments, your eligible survivor will receive 100% of your lifetime retirement pension for the balance of the 10 years. You can choose this benefit at a minimal cost.

If you don’t have an eligible spouse at retirement, this benefit is free and automatic. Any balance remaining on the 10 years of pension payments will be paid as a survivor pension to any dependent children or as a lump sum to your estate.

Explore information about choosing a survivor pension