Retirement season in review

July 18, 2012

Suzanne Burchell, from Burlington, was one of the more than 3,600 members to retire when the calendar rolled over to July 1. With a 34% increase in July retirements this year, Teachers' emphasis on enhancing and simplifying the pension application experience carries even more importance.

Suzanne taught high school drama for nearly three decades "I love teaching. But, it's better to leave while you're still on a high note," she says. "I had the most wonderful career."

She anticipated that applying for her pension would be easy. "And my experience lived up to my expectations," she said.

Check back to see a photo of Suzanne from her First Day of Retirement in our upcoming photo essay.

Before making the decision to retire, she spent time learning about her Teachers' pension. She wanted to know exactly, "down to the penny," how much her retirement income would be.

Whether applying online or through Teachers' contact centre, we've made enhancements to help members like Suzanne through the process:

1. Improvements to iAccess Web, our secure member website.

Recent improvements to the Pension Calculator allow members to create more scenarios, like assuming different rates of pay or percentage of contracts. In May a tool was added to the site that allows members to upload scanned documents in PDF format (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) to their accounts. About 400 members used it to upload more than 1,300 documents since its launch.

2. Counseling for survivor benefit levels?

Choosing between the minimum 50% survivor benefit level and the maximum 75% requires the consideration of many factors. Teachers' recognized this, so now members with eligible spouses applying for a pension are asked: "Is your spouse financially dependent on you?" With the answer, Teachers' is able to suggest the levels members should consider. It's a simple question, but its answer offers insight into which benefit level will be the best fit for each person's specific circumstances

While Suzanne applied by phone, 98% of members who retired in July applied online in iAccess Web. For those members, if they were unsure at any point during the application, they could click the 'Call Me' icon and arrange to have a Pension Benefits Specialist phone them and guide them through the application.

"When I was speaking with the Pension Benefits Specialist, it was like I was talking with an old friend," Suzanne says. "He genuinely seemed to want to help me make the decision that would be best for me and my circumstances."