In the event of death
Defined contribution pension plans
Death before retirement
When a pension plan member dies, his or her spouse will receive a death benefit from the pension plan, unless the spouse had renounced the right to the benefit. If the spouse had renounced or in the absence of a surviving spouse, the death benefit will be paid to the designated beneficiary or to the member's heirs.
Statement of benefits
Within 60 days after being informed of the member's death, the plan administrator must send a statement of benefits to the surviving spouse or other person who is entitled to the death benefit.
Amount of the death benefit
The amount of the death benefit must be equal to the sums credited to the member's account (member contributions, employer contributions, and additional voluntary contributions, all with interest). However, the plan is not required to include the employer contributions paid before 1 January 1990 with interest.
Terms and conditions of payment
A death benefit is payable in a lump sum. Some plans may however provide that the benefit be paid to the surviving spouse in the form of a pension.
Death during retirement
If a plan member dies after he or she has begun to receive a retirement pension under the plan, the member's spouse will be entitled to a pension for the rest of his or her life. This is called a "joint and survivor's pension" and must be equal to at least 60% of the pension that the deceased member was receiving, unless the surviving spouse had consented to receive a lesser amount. To be entitled to a survivor's pension, a person must be the member's spouse when the member retires or, if the plan so provides, when the member dies.
If the surviving spouse has renounced his or her entitlement or the member did not have a spouse when he or she retired (or died, as the case may be), the amounts payable following the death of the member will depend on the normal pension defined by the pension plan and the options that the member may have chosen.
Death of the member's spouse
If the member's spouse dies before the member, the member's pension will not be increased. However, if the member opted for a joint and survivor's pension with a reduction following the first death, the member's pension will be reduced following the death of his or her spouse.
If you have questions
You should contact you're the administrator of your plan.
If you want to find out about the surviving spouse's pension and the death benefit under the Québec Pension Plan, consult the section on death.
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