Death and your pension

After you die, your spouse, other beneficiaries and/or your estate may receive a death benefit.


The type and amount of any death benefit depends on:

  • Your age when you die
  • Whom you named as beneficiaries
  • Whether you die before or after starting your pension

Shortened life expectancy

If you are an active member of the plan and have a shortened life expectancy, you may be able to access your pension early. Contact the plan for more information.

If you die after you start receiving your pension

The pension option you chose when you retired determines what happens next. The type and amount of a death benefit depends on whether you:

  • Chose a single-life or joint-life pension option
  • Chose a guarantee period
  • Died before or after a guarantee period

Examples:

  • If you chose a single life pension with a guarantee period, and you die before that period expires, your monthly pension will continue to be paid to your beneficiaries until the end of the guarantee period. Alternatively, your beneficiaries may choose to receive a lump-sum payment.
  • If you chose a joint life pension with a guarantee period, and you die before the guarantee period expires, your full monthly pension will be paid to your spouse until the end of the guarantee period, after which the joint life percentage you selected will be paid to your spouse for their lifetime.

If your beneficiary is an organization, any remaining monthly pension payments will be paid to the organization as a lump sum.

Your spouse and dependent children may be eligible for extended health care and dental coverage through the plan after your death. Certain conditions apply, and coverage is not guaranteed.

If you die before you start receiving your pension

If you die before you retire, your beneficiaries will be paid a death benefit.

Your spouse is automatically your beneficiary unless they waived their right to a pre-retirement death benefit. If your spouse is your beneficiary, their options depend on your age when you die:

  • If you die before your earliest retirement age of 55, your spouse may choose:
    • an immediate monthly pension, payable for their lifetime
    • a lump-sum payment equal to the value of your contributions with interest, or the lump-sum commuted value of your pension, whichever is greater
      The commuted value of your pension is the amount of money the pension plan would need to put aside today, at current interest rates, to pay for your future pension at retirement.
  • If you die after age 55, your spouse is only eligible to receive an immediate monthly pension, payable for their lifetime

If you do not have a spouse or your spouse has waived their right to a pre-retirement death benefit, your beneficiaries will receive a lump-sum death benefit equal to the greater of:

  • Your contributions with interest
  • The lump-sum commuted value of your pension
    The commuted value of your pension is the amount of money the pension plan would need to put aside today, at current interest rates, to pay for your future pension at retirement.

If you do not have a spouse and have not named a beneficiary through the plan or in your will, the benefit is paid to your estate.

When paying death benefits to a former spouse, we follow the terms in your signed separation agreement or registered court order.


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Related content for death and your pension

Beneficiaries and your pension

Choosing your pension option

External link in the event of a death

Go to Service Canada for more information