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Survivor benefits

The CAAT Pension Plan, in addition to paying pensions to members once they retire, provides various survivor benefits upon your death. Knowing in advance what to expect from the Plan can help you protect your loved ones after you're gone.

If you die before you retire 

Prior to retirement, all Plan members are entitled to some form of survivor benefit. The following outlines the applicable survivor benefits if you were to die before retirement.

If you have an eligible spouse on the date of your death, they are the sole recipient of the pre-retirement death benefit, and no other survivor benefits are paid. The benefit is equal to the pension you earned in the CAAT Pension Plan up to your date of death. Your spouse has the option to choose their form of payment.

If you do not have an eligible spouse on the date of your death and have not named any designated beneficiaries, the pre-retirement death benefit will be paid to your estate. Nevertheless, if you do not have an eligible spouse, but have eligible children on the date of your death (dependent children, under age 18), and your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia, they receive a children’s pension, and the pre-retirement death benefit paid to your designated beneficiaries or estate will be correspondingly reduced.

For more details on how the pre-retirement death benefit is paid out, refer to the following examples and choose the situation that applies to you:

If you have an eligible spouse at the time of your death, they are the sole recipient of the pre-retirement death benefit when you die, and no other survivor benefits are paid to anyone. The amount of the pre-retirement death benefit is based on the benefit you earned during your membership in the Plan.

Your eligible spouse has a few options for the collection of the pre-retirement death benefit:

  • An immediate pension

    The pre-retirement death benefit is paid as a monthly pension directly to your eligible spouse's bank account via direct deposit. This pension is based on the actuarial equivalent value of the pension you earned during your membership in the Plan. Your spouse will begin collecting their pension effective the first day of the month following your death, and will receive it for the rest of their life. The immediate monthly pension is subject to any increases which may be granted each year due to inflation protection.

  • A deferred pension payable when your eligible spouse turns 65

    Rather than an immediate pension, your eligible spouse may opt to collect a pension starting at age 65. This deferred survivor pension is calculated the same way as the immediate pension. Payments begin when your spouse turns 65 and continue until your eligible spouse's death. This deferred pension is also subject to increases each year due to inflation protection.

    • In the event that your eligible spouse dies before starting the deferred survivor pension, the designated beneficiary of your eligible spouse will receive the commuted value of the survivor pension in one payment, called the Beneficiary payout. (The commuted value is an actuarial calculation of what your future pension is worth today in a lump sum.) If your eligible spouse does not stipulate a designated beneficiary, any entitlement will go to his or her estate.

  • Immediate lump sum payment

    Your eligible spouse may choose to receive a lump sum payment rather than collecting a pension. This benefit is the commuted value of the benefit you earned during your membership in the Plan. (The commuted value is an actuarial calculation of what your future pension is worth today in a lump sum). It can be taken as a cash payout that is taxable to your spouse. Your eligible spouse may choose instead to take the amount as a transfer into another eligible pension plan (if that plan allows) or into his or her RRSP or another retirement arrangement. Such transfers are tax exempt, subject to the approval of the Canada Revenue Agency and tax limits.

  • If your jurisdiction of employment is Quebec, other payment options may be available to your surviving spouse. Contact the Plan for details.
Excess contributions

If, when you die, you are entitled to receive excess contributions, they will be paid to the pre-retirement death benefit recipient (your eligible spouse or designated beneficiaries). Excess contributions are refunded when the total amount of the contributions you made during your membership (plus interest) exceeds 50% of the commuted value of your benefit.

Depending on your jurisdiction of employment, there may be different payout options for the excess contributions.

If your spouse dies while collecting a pension

Your spouse's pension will continue until their death, at which point it will stop. There is, however, a possibility that your spouse's designated beneficiary will be eligible to receive a survivor benefit upon your spouse's death. If your spouse dies before 60 months’ worth of pension payments have been made, a payment of the difference between that amount and the amount your spouse received will be made to your spouse's beneficiary or estate.

If your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia and you do not have an eligible spouse, your eligible child or children will receive a children's pension upon your death. This benefit is equal to 50% of the pension you earned during your Plan membership, until your death. The pre-retirement death benefit paid to your designated beneficiaries or estate will be correspondingly reduced.

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your biological or adopted child must be under the age of 18 and dependent on you for support. If you have two or more eligible children, they will share the children’s pension until they turn 18. When a child turns 18, they will no longer eligible to receive the children’s pension, and the balance of the children’s pension is re-divided among any remaining eligible children. A legal guardian will collect the benefit on behalf of the eligible children.

In addition to the children's pension, your designated beneficiaries (or your estate if you have not named any designated beneficiaries) may receive a lump sum payment. This payment is equal to the commuted value of the pension you accumulated up to your death, minus the commuted value of the pension the eligible children are entitled to receive.

The pre-retirement children's pension only applies to members whose jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia. It does not apply in any other jurisdictions.

Excess contributions

If, when you die, you are entitled to receive excess contributions, they will be paid to the pre-retirement death benefit recipient (your eligible spouse or designated beneficiaries). Excess contributions are refunded when the total amount of the contributions you made during your membership (plus interest) exceeds 50% of the commuted value of your benefit. Depending on your jurisdiction of employment, there may be different payout options for the excess contributions.

Your designated beneficiaries are the person (or persons) chosen by you to receive pre-retirement death benefits upon your death. By naming designated beneficiaries, a benefit will go to the person of your choice, rather than to your estate.

Your designated beneficiaries can be anyone you choose - a child or other relative, a family friend or associate. If you name more than one designated beneficiary, the benefit will be split among them in the manner dictated by you. (Please note that if you name more than one designated beneficiary, the percent share given to each must total 100%.)

Your designated beneficiaries (or if there are no designated beneficiaries, your estate) are eligible to receive a lump sum payment if you die before retiring. This payment is equal to the commuted value of the pension that you accumulated during your Plan membership.

Excess contributions

If, when you die, you are entitled to receive excess contributions, they will be paid to the pre-retirement death benefit recipient (your eligible spouse or designated beneficiaries). Excess contributions are refunded when the total amount of the contributions you made during your membership (plus interest) exceeds 50% of the commuted value of your benefit. Depending on your jurisdiction of employment, there may be different payout options for the excess contributions.

Questions and answers - if you die before you retire

Who is an "eligible spouse"?

Your spouse is defined as the person to whom you are legally married or in a common-law relationship. Common-law is defined by your jurisdiction of employment.

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse for the pre-retirement death benefit if they meet the definition of spouse in your jurisdiction of employment, and your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment.

What if your marital status changes?

A change in marital status may have an effect on pre-retirement death benefit payouts. If you marry, separate or divorce, it is important to notify the Plan as soon as possible.

If you separate or divorce, the pension you earn may need to be included in the valuation and/or division of family property. Visit the Separation or Divorce page for more information.

What is a spousal waiver?

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse for the pre-retirement death benefit if they meet the definition of spouse in your jurisdiction of employment, and your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation.

If your spouse wishes to waive their rights to the pre-retirement survivor pension, the request must come directly from your spouse in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment. It is in the best interest of you and your spouse to receive independent legal and financial advice before making this decision.


If you die after you retire

Your pension includes a lifetime pension for your surviving eligible spouse, equal to 60% of the lifetime pension you were receiving at the date of your death. The survivor pension receives inflation protection in the same manner as your lifetime pension did.

If you die after you retire, one of the following three situations will apply to you.

After your death as a retired member, your eligible spouse receives a survivor pension of 60% of your lifetime pension. If you have an eligible spouse when your pension starts, you can choose to reduce your pension permanently in exchange for an increase in the survivor pension to 75% of your lifetime pension. You must make this choice before the first monthly payment of your pension, and it cannot be changed once it is made.

If, when your eligible spouse dies, you have an eligible child (a dependent child, under age 18), that child will receive a children's pension equal to the spousal pension. If you have no eligible children, a payment may be made to your spouse’s designated beneficiary, if your spouse designated one, or to your spouse's estate, under the pension guarantee.

Inflation protection increases continue to be applied to lifetime pension paid to surviving spouse.

The spousal pension from the Plan is paid for the rest of the surviving spouse’s life

If your marital status has changed due to separation or divorce please visit the Separation or Divorce page for more information if your jurisdiction of employment was Ontario.

Your designated beneficiaries, if you have designated any, or otherwise your estate, may receive a payment under the pension guarantee.

Pension guarantee

The pension guarantee is an addition to the Plan’s other survivor benefit provisions. The guarantee is that if, after all survivor pensions have been paid, the total amount paid is less than 60 times your initial monthly lifetime pension payment, then any remaining balance will be paid out. It can go to the designated beneficiary or, if there isn’t one, to the estate of the last pension recipient. Note that members whose jurisdiction of employment at retirement was Quebec had the option to select 120 months.

The pension guarantee is simply a guarantee that the pension payments paid to you and your survivors will total at least 60 times (or 120 times in Quebec, if that option was chosen) the amount of your first monthly lifetime pension payment.

To be eligible for the children’s pension, your child must be your biological or adopted child, under the age of 18, and dependent on you for support. If you have two or more eligible children, they will share the children’s pension until they turn 18. When a child turns 18, he or she is no longer eligible to receive the children’s pension, and the balance of the children’s pension is re-divided among any remaining eligible children. A legal guardian will collect the benefit on behalf of the eligible children. Your eligible children will receive the same amount as an eligible spouse would have received (divided into equal shares). The child’s pension stops when the child turns 18 - and when that happens, the pension will be re-divided among any remaining eligible children.

When your youngest eligible child reaches age 18, he or she (or if he or she died before reaching age 18, the estate) will receive any balance of 60 months of your lifetime pension that exceeds the total pension payments made.

Questions and answers - if you die after you retire

Who is an “eligible spouse”?

The CAAT Pension Plan considers your spouse to be the eligible spouse if they meet the definition of spouse in your jurisdiction of employment, and your spouse has not waived the pre-retirement death benefit in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment.

If you had a spouse when your pension started, they will be your eligible spouse provided:

  • You and your spouse were living together at the time your pension started (in other words, not “living separate and apart”),
  • Your eligible spouse did not waive the survivor pension benefit at the time of your retirement, or after you started your pension as part of a separation, in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation in your jurisdiction of employment. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment.

If you did not have an eligible spouse when you retired, and you subsequently have a spouse at the time of your death, that spouse would be your eligible spouse, provided you and your spouse were living together.

If you have a subsequent spouse on your death, that subsequent spouse would be your eligible spouse, provided you and your subsequent spouse were living together.

Your eligible spouse at the time of retirement remains the eligible spouse for the survivor benefit unless he or she has properly waived the survivor pension benefit as part of the separation in accordance with the conditions set out by applicable legislation in your jurisdiction of employment. Contact the Plan for the spousal waiver that applies to your jurisdiction of employment.

If your eligible spouse at the time of your retirement has waived the survivor pension as described above, and you have a subsequent spouse on your death, that subsequent spouse would be the eligible spouse for the survivor pension, provided you and your subsequent spouse were living together at the time of your death.

If you’ve separated from the spouse you had at retirement or have a new spouse, be sure to contact the Plan as soon as possible, to ensure that the Plan’s records are kept up to date.

"Separated" or “Living separate and apart”, for example, does not include a situation where one spouse is in long-term care, or living away for some other reason, but rather separate living arrangements where the intention is to end the marriage or common-law relationship.

The importance of having designated beneficiaries

No matter what your marital status, naming a designated beneficiary in the CAAT Pension Plan is important. Having a designated beneficiary will ensure that your pension benefits are paid in accordance with your wishes if you die before you retire (and do not have an eligible spouse).

Do you work outside of Ontario?

Some Plan provisions may be impacted by the pension legislation that is applicable based on your jurisdiction of employment. A member’s jurisdiction of employment is based on the location of their employment and specifically, where they report to work.

Claiming a survivor benefit

Information to complete a survivor benefit claim with the CAAT Pension Plan.

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Questions? Contact Us

The CAAT Plan's member services team are available to answer any questions you may have.