Frequently asked questions about supplemental pension plans
Pension plans (or pension funds)
You can find answers to your questions rapidly in the FAQ.
Certain factors such as the members place of work (province or territory) and the sector (public, private, parapublic, etc.) determine which law is applicable
to the supplemental pension plan.
If there has been no bankruptcy
Except under certain conditions, the benefits accumulated under a pension plan subject to the Supplemental Pension Plans Act are unseizable. They cannot be given as security. The amounts that come from such a plan are also unseizable. The amounts can be, for example:
- those paid in the form of a benefit or refund
- those transferred into a annuity contract, a locked-in retirement account (LIRA), a life income fund (LIF), a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), or a registered retirement income fund (RRIF)
- Benefits accumulated under a plan subject to the Supplemental Pension Plans Act, or amounts that come from such a plan can be seized for:
- the payment of a support debt (maximum 50 %)
- the partition of family patrimony
- the payment of a compensatory allowance
- Additional voluntary contributions, as well as amounts from a not locked-in account in a simplified pension plan (SIPP), become seizable when they are no longer in the plan, for example, when they have been transferred to an RRSP.
- When a plan is terminated, any surplus assets transferred to a member, a beneficiary or the employer are seizable.
- Benefits accumulated under a plan referred to in section 2.1 of the Supplemental Pension Plans Act (plans for major shareholders that are not registered with Retraite Québec) become seizable when they are no longer in the plan.
In the case of bankruptcy, benefits accumulated under all pension plans are unseizable. The same is true for RRSPs, RRIFs, LIRAs and LIFs.
Exception: for RRSPs, RRIFs, LIRAs
that would have been seizable if not for the bankruptcy (for example, an RRSP
in which the amounts coming from the not locked-in account of an SIPP
were transferred), the amounts paid into them in the 12 months preceding the bankruptcy are seizable.
No. The pension fund is not part of the employer's assets. It cannot be used to pay the creditors of the bankrupt employer.
If a business goes bankrupt, the pension plan is normally terminated and the pension fund is liquidated. If the employer owes money to the pension fund and the plan administrator is unable to recover the amounts due, it is possible that the benefits of members and beneficiaries affected by the termination may be reduced. We always follow this type of situation closely to ensure that the reduction of benefits, if any, is made correctly.
More information about the possible repercussions of a corporate change (merger, restructuration, sale, closure, bankruptcy protection) on a pension plan is available on our Web site.
Why can't members withdraw funds from their pension plan?
Members cannot withdraw funds because they are locked-in in order to provide a retirement income. A refund can be made under certain circumstances:
Members or beneficiaries of a pension plan are untraceable when the plan administrator tries to contact them unsuccessfully, which is the case when they leave without giving an address or when documents sent to them are returned. In order to rectify the situation, the plan administrator must file a request to find untraceable members or beneficiaries with Retraite Québec.
Under the Supplemental Pension Plans Act, the administrator must file a request to find untraceable members or beneficiaries when they are entitled to:
- a refund
- payment of a retirement pension
- payment of another benefit
- other amounts following their employer's withdrawal or the plan's termination (e.g., part of surplus assets following the termination of the plan).
However, the Act does not prevent the administrator from filing a request to find untraceable members or beneficiaries under other circumstances, for example, when annual returns are returned by mail.
The request must contain as much information as possible:
- given and family names
- date of birth (specify the format to avoid confusion, e.g., year/month/day)
- social insurance number (SIN)
- his or her last known address.
The request must also:
Once Retraite Québec has completed its search, we will contact the plan administrator for a follow-up.
The following template could help you make your request.
Information on the plan
Name of the plan:
Number assigned by Retraite Québec:
Information on each untraceable member or beneficiary
|Date of birth
|Social insurance number (SIN)
||Last known address
Payment enclosed: ______ $
Date of the request:
Name of the authorized signatory
for the plan administrator,
Plan administrator's address