When death occurs—Reservists in the Reserve Force Pension Plan
The following questions and answers will provide you with an understanding of the benefits available under the Reserve Force Pension Plan to your survivor, the person of the same or the opposite sex who:
- was married to you at the time of your death or when you reached age 60, whichever is earlier, or
- had been living with you in a conjugal relationship for at least one year at the date of your death, and, if you are over age 60, has cohabited continuously with you since before you reached age 60
And eligible children:
Your child(ren) include an adopted child(ren) or stepchild(ren), born before you reached age 60 or stopped being a member of the plan, whichever happens later, and who is/are:
- younger than age 18 or
- between ages 18 and 25, and in full-time attendance at a school, college, university or other educational institution that provides training or instruction of an educational, professional, vocational or technical nature
In the event of your death, your survivor or legal representative should immediately notify the Government of Canada Pension Centre.
You may want to know
What happens if I die while I'm serving?
The following table illustrates what happens with your pension benefits if you die while serving:
|If you have less than 2 years of pensionable service:||If you have at least 2 years of pensionable service:|
Your survivor and/or children receive a lump-sum payment equal to the greater of:
With no survivor and/or children, your beneficiary or estate receives a lump-sum payment equal to your contributions, plus interest.
Your survivor and/or children receive a monthly pension.
With no survivor and/or children, your beneficiary or estate receives a lump-sum payment equal to the greater of:
Refer to the Scenarios to see examples of survivor pensions.
If your spouse or common-law partner is eligible for a survivor pension, he or she will also be eligible for benefits under the Public Service Health Care Plan and under the Pensioners' Dental Services Plan.
Benefits may also be payable under the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) plan. Reserve Class "C" members are eligible to participate in the SDB plan.
Is my ex-spouse or ex-common-law partner entitled to a pension at my death?
If you are divorced at the time of your death, your ex-spouse is no longer entitled to a survivor pension. If you are separated but not divorced, your separated spouse may still be entitled to a pension. Your ex-common-law partner would not be eligible for a survivor pension if he or she does not meet the definition of survivor. If, at your death, you have a common-law partner and a separated spouse, the pension will be divided between the two survivors.
Please be sure to forward proof of change in your marital status to the Government of Canada Pension Centre if your marital status changes.
Who is considered my survivor under the Reserve Force Pension Plan?
Your survivor is the person of the same or opposite sex, who:
- was married to you at the time of your death or when you reached age 60, whichever is earlier or
- had been living with you in a conjugal relationship for at least one year at the date of your death and, if you are age 60 or over, has cohabited continuously with you since before you reached age 60
How is the pension for my survivor calculated?
If you die while serving
If you have two or more years of pensionable service, the pension for your survivor is calculated as:
1% × total pensionable earnings (updated for wage growth)
If you die while receiving an unreduced pension
The pension for your survivor is calculated as:
1% × total pensionable earnings (updated for wage growth to your release)
If you die while receiving a reduced pension
The pension for your survivor is calculated as:
1% × total pensionable earnings (updated for wage growth to your release) × percentage of your full pension
Refer to the Scenarios to see examples of the survivor pensions.
Is my survivor's pension reduced if I die while serving but before I am eligible for an immediate annuity?
No. There is no reduction applied to the survivor pension.
How is the pension for my children calculated?
Each of your children, to a maximum of two, receives a pension equal to 25% of the pension payable to your survivor. For children under the age of 18, this pension is paid to the survivor or legal guardian on behalf of the children. Children age 18 or older have the pension paid directly to them if they are attending school on a full-time basis until the age of 25. Your children receive a pension as long as they meet the definition of "child". If you have more than two children when you die, the pensions for two children would be divided equally among all the children.
If there is no survivor pension payable at your death, or when your survivor dies, the children's pension is increased from 25% to 50% of the survivor's amount. If you have more than three children when you die, the value of the benefits for three children would be divided equally among all the children.
If I begin a spousal or common-law relationship after age 60, can I provide a survivor pension for my new spouse or common-law partner?
No. There is no survivor benefit if your marriage or common-law relationship began on or after age 60.
Do I need to choose a beneficiary for my pension?
No. If you have a survivor and/or children, they have an automatic, legal entitlement to pension benefits at your death. If you have no survivor or children at your death, the minimum death benefit will be paid to your estate.
If the death benefit is less than $1,000, it will be paid to the next of kin.
Please be sure to forward a copy of your marriage certificate and children's birth certificate(s) to the Government of Canada Pension Centre.
Can my survivor choose not to take a survivor pension?
Yes. Your survivor can irrevocably waive the right to receive his or her portion of your pension, but only after you die, and only if it would increase the pension paid to a child or if it results in the payment of a minimum death benefit.
Is there any instance where my survivor might not receive a pension?
If you are married, your spouse might not qualify for a survivor pension if you and your spouse had been married for less than one year at the time of your death and, at the time of your marriage, you were expected to live less than one year. To qualify for the pension, your spouse may have to provide a certification from your doctor stating that when you got married you were expected to live at least one year.
The other instances where your survivor might not receive pension benefits are if:
- your survivor waives the right to a survivor pension to increase a child's benefit or if it results in the payment of a minimum death benefit
- your survivor cannot be found within a year of your death or
- your survivor is found criminally responsible for your death
For more information on survivor benefits, refer to the Survivor/child(ren) life events section.
If I have granted someone a general Power of Attorney, can that person manage my pension affairs?
If you wish for another person to manage some of your pension affairs, an original, notarized, or a certified true copy of the general Power of Attorney (POA) document bearing the original signature of the lawyer, notary, commissioner of oaths or justice of the peace must be sent to the Government of Canada Pension Centre. The person you name can then request address changes, direct deposit and choose a benefit on your behalf. However, a POA does not provide that person with the authority to change the recipient of a pension benefit or to change a beneficiary under the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) plan.
In order to protect plan members, the Government of Canada Pension Centre cannot accept photocopies, faxes or scans of legal documents. Original POA documents will be returned to you by mail.
If you simply wish to allow someone to make enquiries and receive information about your pension matters, but not make decisions on your behalf, you can provide the Government of Canada Pension Centre with a written consent to that effect.
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