New to the Canadian Armed Forces—Reservists in the Reserve Force Pension Plan
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Pension Plans provide you, as a member, with peace of mind today and for years to come.
The CAF Plan Enrolment Information Package is available for new or re-enrolled members and will be mailed to you by the Government of Canada Pension Centre. Some aspects of the plan are time-sensitive, so it's suggested that you review this document as soon as possible.
As a contributor under the Regular Force Pension Plan, you accumulate both pensionable service and Canadian Forces (CF) service. Combined, they determine your benefit eligibility under the Regular Force Pension Plan.
Pensionable service determines the type and the amount of the benefit. While a given period of service may or may not be pensionable, only paid days of service are considered CF service.
CF service is used to determine when you join the Regular Force Pension Plan and if you are eligible for an unreduced pension at release.
Listed below are some common questions and answers that may be of interest to you as a member of the CAF.
You may want to know
When do I join the plan?
Reserve Force members join the Reserve Force Pension Plan automatically after earning 10% of the Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) in two consecutive 12-month periods.
The Pension Centre notifies you once you have met the criteria to join the plan. It's a good idea to keep your service history and personal information, including your home address and telephone number, up-to-date in departmental Human Resources (HR) and pay systems. Contact your Base Orderly Room or Records Support Unit to update your information.
You remain in the plan until you:
- release or retire from the Reserve Force, or die
- do not have any earnings for 12 months
- join the Regular Force or
- qualify for the Regular Force (Full-Time) Pension Plan
Do I have to join the plan?
Yes. Once you meet the criteria, you must join the plan. Pension contributions will start to be deducted from your pay automatically when you join.
How do I know when I have joined the plan?
The Government of Canada Pension Centre will monitor your service and earnings and the Plan Enrolment Package will be mailed to you using the address we have on file. This package includes a letter with the ‘Welcome to the Reserve Force Pension Plan' orientation information kit, the Enrolment Information and ‘Acknowledgement of Plan Membership' (CF-FC 571-PF) form, as well as the ‘Notification of Plan Membership' (CF-FC 2018-PF) form. Pension contributions for the Regular Force Pension Plan will start being deducted from your pay when you join.
If you believe you have met the criteria to join and have not received a letter, contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre.
How are the Canadian Armed Forces pension plans governed?
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) pension plans are legislated pension plans. The provisions of the pension plans are set out in the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act (CFSA), the Canadian Forces Superannuation Regulations (CFSR), and the Reserve Force Pension Plan Regulations (RFPPR).
When do I qualify to contribute to the Regular Force (Full-Time) Pension Plan?
You qualify for the Regular Force Pension Plan once you accumulate 1,674 days (55 months) of CF service within a period of 60 consecutive months.
What happens if I previously was a member of the Reserve Force Pension Plan and I rejoin the Reserve Force or again have earnings in the Reserve Force?
It depends on the pension benefit you received when you left the Reserve Force Pension Plan. Please refer to the "Re-enrolling after Retirement" Life Event for more information.
What happens if I previously served in the Regular Force and I join the Reserve Force?
It depends on the pension benefit you received when you left the Regular Force. Please refer to the "Re-enrolling after Retirement" Life Event for more information.
What happens if I previously was a Reserve Force member in the Regular Force Pension Plan and I rejoin the Reserve Force or have earnings again in the Reserve Force?
It depends on the pension benefit you received when you left the Regular Force Pension Plan. Please refer to the "Re-enrolling after Retirement" Life Event for more information.
What if I have previous service with the Canadian Armed Forces?
You may be able to increase your pension by adding your previous service with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). This is called buying back service. You pay to have the service recognized as pensionable service.
The decision of whether or not to include your previous service is an important one and may have a big impact on your future retirement income. The decision is up to you and you are responsible for informing the Pension Centre if you want to make it.
If you are eligible to buy back prior service, use the Service Buyback Calculator tool to estimate the cost of purchasing past service.
You have a strict deadline by which you must make your decision. It's important to consider your options before the deadline. Contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre or refer to the section Increasing Your Pension for more information.
Refer to the Scenarios to see examples of the impact of buying back past service.
How much do I contribute?
You contribute 5.2% of your pensionable earnings.
Once you have 35 years of pensionable service, your contributions are reduced to 1% of earnings.
Are my pension contributions tax-deductible?
Yes. And, your income tax is reduced automatically on your pay for your current year contributions. In other words, you receive your tax deduction for your pension contributions right away, instead of waiting until your next year's income tax return is filed.
Is my personal Registered Retirement Savings Plan contribution limit affected by my participation in the Reserve Force Pension Plan?
Yes. Your annual Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution limit is reduced by the estimated value of the pension you earned in the previous year. This value is called the pension adjustment.
What is the Supplementary Death Benefit, and who can I designate as my beneficiary?
The Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) plan provides a form of decreasing term life insurance protection, which is designed to provide insurance coverage to Regular Force members and members of the Reserve Force on Class "C" service.
You may choose one of the following as your beneficiary:
- any one person 18 or more years of age at the time of designation
- your estate
- any charitable or benevolent organization or institution
- any educational or religious organization or institution that is supported by donations
To designate your beneficiary, you must complete the Naming or Substitution of a Beneficiary (CF-FC 2196) form.
For detailed information about the SDB, please visit the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) plan page.
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