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Gearing up for your moment

February 22, 2021

You’ve worked your entire career for this moment, but there are still things you’ll need to do to prepare for retirement.

We see about 5,000 teachers retire every school year. You can apply for your pension up to four months before your retirement date.

We encourage you to apply as soon as possible within that timeframe. 

Once we have all of the information we need, it'll take us around two weeks to process your application.

If we can't process your application on time, we'll pay retroactively, with interest. Remember, the earliest you can choose to start your pension is the month after your resignation date.

Not sure when you should retire? Use the pension calculator in your online account to get a better idea of how much you'll collect, and when. Check out this short video (1 min, 17 sec) for tips on using our most popular retirement planning tool.

Sign in to your online account and check for alerts. These alerts may be outstanding buybacks or documents we'll need from you to process your pension application.

You can securely upload documents directly to your Document Centre.

Whether you’re one month or a few years away, you'll need to prepare before hitting “submit” on your pension application.

The warm-up

We’re betting you experienced a few milestones throughout your career. Maybe you got married, had a baby, moved to a new home, separated from your spouse or your spouse died?

It’s important your profile in your Ontario Teachers’ online account is up-to-date to reflect any of these changes in your life.

Hand in your papers

Visit your Document Centre and check to see what you may need to add to your profile, so that we can pay your pension.

Securely upload your documents directly to the Document Centre anytime. 

Update your email address and personal info

Take a look at your profile in your online account.

Do we have your current personal email address on file? You likely won’t have access to your school board email account after you retire. The email address in your profile is the one we’ll send a confirmation to once you submit your pension application. We’ll also use it to send you important information after you retire, if your communication preference is set for email.

Are your mailing address and phone number up to date? Has there been a change in your marital status? You can update these at any point. If your personal information is out-of-date when you submit your application it may cause a delay in us being able to pay your pension.

Pay for eligible leaves

Check to see if you have any eligible leaves from the past five years. Sign in to your online account and visit your Buyback Centre to see if there is a leave you can pay for, and the impact it'll have on your retirement.

If you decide you’d like to pay for it, call us. Our toll-free number is 1-800-668-0105. Our contact centre is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm.

Understand how CPP works with your pension

You're probably wondering when you should start collecting from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Everyone's situation is unique, and you should consult a professional financial advisor to help you with that decision.

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. You'll receive this bridge benefit regardless of when you collect CPP. The month after you turn 65, or immediately if you start a CPP disability pension, the bridge benefit ends and your pension is adjusted.

Old Age Security has no impact on your Ontario Teachers' pension.

Take care of your loved ones

Your loved ones are your biggest supporters and have cheered you on throughout your teaching career.

When you apply for your pension, if you have an eligible spouse you’ll be asked to confirm a survivor pension level. The default amount of a spousal survivor pension is 60% of your pension. You can change your option, but once you receive your first pension payment it becomes irrevocable. 

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 slightly 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 chose to lower their pension below the default of 60%. About 15% opted for a survivor pension level higher than the default. What’s best for you? We strongly recommend consulting a professional 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 you retire. But don’t complete the form too soon (it's not often you'll hear us tell you to hold off on handing in a paper!). 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 slightly to provide for a survivor pension higher than 50%. You can change it from the default of 60% up to 75%. Once you apply for your pension, if you selected 55% or higher, the reduction to your pension is permanent, even if your spouse dies before you.

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

The 10-year guarantee

Consider the 10-year pension guarantee option. If you die before collecting 10 years’ worth of pension payments, this option provides 100% of your CPP-adjusted pension to your eligible survivor for the balance of the 10 years at a minimal cost. If you don’t have an eligible spouse when you retire, you’ll automatically receive this benefit at no additional cost.

Ready, set, go

The surge of excitement that comes as you approach that monumental moment won’t pay your bills.

Have your banking info handy

To set up the direct deposit for your pension, have your financial institution’s information and your bank account number handy when you apply. You can find this information through your online bank account or on a cheque.

Give your employer a resignation letter

You can apply for your pension before you resign. We won't inform your employer of your resignation, unless you are receiving long-term income protection benefits, or are currently on a leave.

To ensure you don't lose any pension payments, make sure you give your employer a resignation letter before your resignation date. The resignation date on your pension application must be the same date you include in your resignation letter.

Apply for your pension

When you're ready, don't forget to hit "submit" when you apply for your pension. You can work through the pension application at your own pace, but we won't start processing your application until you hit submit. You should apply for your pension no later than two weeks before the end of the month in which you want to start receiving it. 

Once you hit submit, you'll receive a confirmation email that we received your pension application. This email will contain some of the key dates and decisions you told us in your application and information on next steps and timelines.

Days before your first pension payment, we'll send you an email with a few things you need to know so you can stay on top of your pension. 

Retirement life

Getting to this next phase of your life is one thing, but make sure you’re ready for your new reality.

Supplementary medical coverage

While we don’t offer health and dental coverage, some employers extend health coverage to pensioners. If your employer doesn’t, or you wish to shop around, there are three independent organizations who also extend this type of coverage. They’re ARM Retiree Health Insurance Plan, RTOERO (formerly known as the Retired Teachers of Ontario), and Ontario Teachers’ Insurance Plan. Contact them directly for details and to arrange for coverage. 

Re-employment rules

If you're thinking about returning for a victory lap as a supply teacher, know the re-employment rules.

And you may even consider pausing your pension one day and returning to work full time. If you want to contribute to your pension again and have it recalculated, you can’t have any previous re-employment service. Keep this in mind as you plan for retirement.

Don’t shake on it, yet

If you’re considering re-employment, you can’t make the arrangements right away. You have to wait until after your pension starts.

There’s a limit

When you’re retired there's a limit on the number of days you can work in education in a school year without affecting your pension.

Reaching your limit

If you reach the limit, you can work until the end of the month in which you exceed the limit.

Let’s say you hit the limit on the last working day in January, and you worked again in February. Then you exceeded the limit in February and can work until the end of February without affecting your pension.

If you continue to work after the month in which you exceed the limit (March in the example above), call us. It's your responsibility to let us know. We’ll suspend your pension until either you stop working, or when the next school year starts.

If you continue to work and continue to collect your pension, we’ll collect the overpayment, plus interest.  

You need to keep track

It’s up to you to track the number of days you work and notify us if you intend to work in the month in which you exceed the limit. Your employer will report your service to us, but it’s ultimately up to you to keep track.

Volunteer work may count

Re-employment rules may apply, even if you don’t get paid for your work. Not sure? Contact us.

Have more questions?

We've got answers to the most frequently asked re-employment questions.  If you have any doubts about what constitutes re-employment or what rules apply, please call us to find out.

Stay in-the-loop

Get social and keep in touch with us and your colleagues by liking us on Facebook (check out our Facebook Terms of Use). You’ll be able to connect with your peers and get tips from fellow retirees on adjusting to life after retirement.