ARCHIVED SAM - Special Bulletin 2005-002
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February 8, 2005
SUBJECT: Release of Specific Information Pertaining to Survivor Benefits and the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) Plan in Accordance with the Privacy Act
1.1. The purpose of this bulletin is to advise compensation advisors to exercise care when releasing specific information about the various pension and benefit plans, particularly following the death of a plan member.
1.2. In this text, use of the masculine is generic and applies to both men and women.
2.1. The Superannuation, Pension Transition and Client Services Sector (SPTCSS) has encountered several cases where estates have been provided with the name of the beneficiary and the amount of the SDB payment. This has created problems when it has led to estates challenging the payment. The release of this information is also a breach of the Privacy Act.
3.1. In accordance with the Privacy Act, estates are not permitted total access to information regarding the survivor benefit and the SDB following an employee's death. Estates are only entitled to the information specifically required for the administration of the estate. In other words, unless the estate is the beneficiary of the SDB, it has no right to know the identity of the beneficiary or the amount of the benefit. Under those circumstances, the estate is entitled only to general information on how the plan operates.
3.2. Similarly, estates have no right to know the identity of those entitled to pension benefits (survivor benefit or minimum benefit) or the amount of those benefits.
3.3. Quite often the executor, the surviving spouse and the beneficiary are the same person. Nevertheless, it is incumbent on compensation advisors to ensure that they comply with the Privacy Act and other statutes such as the Pension Benefits Division Act (PBDA) when releasing information.
3.4. Compensation advisors are, of course, free to release general information to anyone on the nature and operation of the various pension and benefit plans.
3.5. Compensation advisors may encounter cases where the deceased employee made provisions for the administration of the SDB or survivor entitlements following death. However, benefits payable under the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA) are not subject to the provisions included in wills. A will containing such provisions does not authorize the compensation advisor to release information beyond the limits outlined in this bulletin.
4.1. Any request for information regarding the content of this document should be addressed to your Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) Compensation Services Office.
Original Signed by
Finance, Accounting, Banking and Compensation
Reference(s): CJA 9006-26
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