Survivor benefits

The Plan can help you protect your loved ones after you're gone

Plan features

A lifetime pension for your spouse

In addition to paying lifetime pensions, the CAAT Pension Plan provides various survivor benefits upon your death.


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

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.

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.

Definition of "eligible spouse" for post-retirement survivor benefits

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”),
  • You and 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.

Claim a survivor benefit

If you are the survivor of a deceased pensioner, you must contact the CAAT Plan to claim a post-retirement survivor benefit.


If you die before you retire

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

If you do not have an eligible spouse, the pre-retirement death benefit will be paid to your designated beneficiaries or estate. If your jurisdiction of employment is Ontario or Nova Scotia, a benefit will be paid to your eligible children, if any.

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

Options for 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.

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.

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:

Your children’s benefit if you don’t have an eligible spouse (Ontario and Nova Scotia only)

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.

Your designated beneficiary’s benefit if you don’t have an eligible spouse

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.

Change in marital status

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.

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.

Definition of "eligible spouse" for pre-retirement survivor benefits

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.

Collecting a pre-retirement survivor benefit

In the event of your death, we will assist your eligible spouse, or if you don’t have an eligible spouse, your eligible children or designated beneficiaries by outlining their options and providing all the necessary paperwork.

It will be important for your survivors to have access to the following documents in order to speed along the process:

  • Proof of age of the eligible spouse
  • Death Certificate

In the case of a children’s pension, the guardian will have to provide proof of age of each child, as well as written confirmation that there is no eligible spouse.

In the case of a payment to designated beneficiaries, each designated beneficiary will have to provide proof of his or her own age, and written confirmation that there are no eligible spouse or eligible children.


More information about survivor benefits

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