Designating or changing beneficiaries
Regardless of what stage of life you're at, it’s important that survivor benefits are paid in accordance with your wishes. Ensuring your beneficiary designations are up to date is particularly important where there is a need to ensure that loved ones are taken care of in the event of your death. Confirm and update your beneficiary with us after notable life events, such as a change in your marital status, the birth or adoption of a child(ren), or the death of a spouse, child, or beneficiary. You should also periodically review your beneficiary designations to ensure that they still accurately reflect your wishes.
We identify and pay the survivor and/or death benefits from the PSPP to your designated beneficiaries in order of priority based primarily on those you have designated as a beneficiary, then the PSPP plan text and any applicable statutes. If you have a common-law spouse, he or she does not need to be named as a designated beneficiary for your PSPP survivor benefits in order to receive a spousal death benefit when you pass away. However, the type and amount of survivor benefits payable to your survivors differs for credit before 1987 and after 1986.
Can I update my pension beneficiaries online?
Yes. You can view your PSPP beneficiaries and make updates to them online. Simply log into OPB's secure e-services, select beneficiaries on the e-services home page, and you can update your beneficiaries right away.
Can I update my insurance beneficiaries online?
If you're interested in updating your insurance beneficiaries, you'll need to fill out and submit the correct application to us.
If you are retired or retiring, please fill out the OPB1122 – Post-Retirement Insured Benefits Application (PDF).
When you pass away, your life insurance beneficiary (or beneficiaries) will receive a payment unless you are retired and you cancelled your BLI in which case you would no longer be eligible for this benefit.
If my pension beneficiary (or beneficiaries) pass away before I do, what do I need to do?
If a beneficiary (not including your eligible spouse) passes away before you, then you can update your beneficiary designations online in e-services without a Death Certificate or Funeral Director Statement. If your spouse passes away before you, what verification we need depends on whether you're still working or retired. For more information, check the questions below in the section that's applicable to you.
Is there anything I need to do if my spousal status changes?
We want to make sure the right individual(s) receive survivor benefits when you pass away, so please update your information through your e-services account after any changes happen.
If I have an eligible spouse, what are the options for survivor pensions?
The lifetime pension paid to your spouse if you pass away after retirement will be equal to a percentage of your pension, reduced to reflect CPP integration (PDF). The default is a 60% survivor pension; however, there is an adjustment to your pension based on the age difference between you and your spouse. You can also elect a 0%, 50%, 65%, 70% or 75% survivor pension.
To help offset the cost of providing a survivor pension to your spouse after you pass away, your pension will be actuarially reduced if you elect a 60%, 65%, 70% or 75% survivor pension. It’s important to know that this is a permanent decision. In other words, the reduction will not be reversed if your spouse passes away first. If you elect a 50% survivor pension and your spouse at retirement is the same as the spouse at the time of the termination of your PSPP membership, there is no actuarial reduction to your pension.
- To elect the 50% or 0% survivor pension, you and your spouse must sign a waiver during the 12-month period before your pension starts. This is because your spouse is agreeing to accept a pension that is less than the 60% survivor pension they are legally entitled to. If you are considering a 0% survivor pension, please contact us to discuss your options.
- To elect a 65%, 70% or 75% survivor pension, you must submit an OPB1006 – Application for Increased Survivor Pension (PDF) at least two years before you retire to qualify for the increased survivor pension without a medical examination. If you submit the application in the two years leading up to the start of your pension, it will be accepted if we’re satisfied that you’re in good health.
How is my pension distributed to my eligible spouse if I pass away before I retire?
If you pass away before you retire, how your pension benefits are distributed to your eligible spouse depends on what type of pension credit you have.
For benefits based on pension credit accrued before January 1, 1987:
- Your eligible spouse will receive an immediate survivor pension equal to 50% of your pension, or a one-time lump-sum payment equal to your contributions, with interest.
For benefits based on pension credit accrued since December 31, 1986:
- Your eligible spouse is entitled to an immediate PSPP pension (the default option), or your spouse can choose a deferred PSPP pension, or a one-time lump-sum payment equal to the commuted value of your pension.
If I pass away before I retire and I don't have an eligible spouse, how will OPB pay out my death benefits?
If you don’t have an eligible spouse when you pass away before retirement (or your spouse has waived the pre-retirement death benefit), your death benefits will be paid out as follows:
For benefits based on pension credit earned before January 1, 1987
- Your eligible child(ren) will either receive a survivor pension or a one-time lump sum payment divided equally amongst each child (your children under 18 will have their benefit held in trust and/or to the courts until they turn 18).
- If you have no eligible spouse or eligible child(ren) your designated beneficiary(ies) will receive a one-time lump-sum payment equal to your pre-1987 contributions, with interest.
- If you have no eligible spouse, child(ren), or designated beneficiary(ies), the one-time lump-sum payment will go to your estate.
For benefits based on pension credit earned since December 31, 1986
- If you don’t have an eligible spouse when you pass away before retirement, your eligible child will receive a survivor pension equal to 50% of your lifetime pension related to your post-1986 pension credit until the child ceases to be eligible.
- If you passed away and had an eligible spouse who elected a deferred survivor pension but died before the pension went into pay, your eligible child will receive a survivor pension equal to 50% of your lifetime pension related to your post-1986 pension credit until the child ceases to be eligible.
- If you passed away and had an eligible spouse who elected an immediate or deferred pension that went in to pay and the eligible spouse has now died, your eligible child will receive a survivor pension equal to the survivor pension that your eligible spouse was receiving until the child ceases to be eligible.
- If you do not have an eligible child(ren), your designated beneficiary will receive a lump-sum payment equal to the Commuted Value (CV) of your post-1986 accrued pension.
- If you do not have a designated beneficiary, your estate will receive the above lump-sum payment.
- Excess contributions, if any, will be paid to your estate.
Note: If your pension benefit includes pension credit before 1987, the benefit payable is split between what they earned prior to January 1, 1987 and after December 31, when the pension legislation on survivor benefits was amended.
Important: If you have less than 10 years of PSPP membership or pension credit, including periods prior to 1987, please contact us for additional information about your pension benefits.
How do I update my beneficiaries if my eligible spouse passes away before me, prior to my retirement?
If your eligible spouse dies before you retire, please complete and return a OPB1061 – Member/Former Member Information Change (PDF) form along with a Death Certificate or a Funeral Director's Statement. After submitting the form along with the proper documentation, you must update your beneficiaries online in e-services.
How is my pension distributed to my eligible spouse when I pass away after I retire?
When you pass away after you retire, your eligible spouse will receive a survivor pension based on the joint and survivor election you made at retirement in your Retirement Elections Package.
When I pass away after I retire, how will OPB pay out my death benefits if I don't have an eligible spouse?
- A survivor pension will be provided to your child(ren) as long as they meet the age and education requirements. If you have a disabled dependent child(ren) a survivor pension will be provided to them as long as they've been identified by us as disabled and financially dependent on you.
- If you don't have an eligible spouse or eligible child(ren), your designated beneficiary(ies) will receive the residual balance, if any.
- If you don't have an eligible spouse, eligible child(ren), or designated beneficiary(ies), your estate will receive the residual balance, if any.
Note: A residual balance is a lump-sum payment equal to the amount that the member contributions with interest exceed the total pension payments that were made from the PSPP.
How do I update my beneficiaries if my spouse passes before me, after I retire?
If your eligible spouse dies after you retire, please complete and return a OPB1004 – Retired Member Information Change (PDF) form along with a Death Certificate or a Funeral Director's Statement. After submitting the form along with the proper documentation, you must update your beneficiaries online in e-services.
Can my will be used as instruction to distribute to beneficiaries?
Yes. We will refer to your beneficiary designations in your will in the absence of a more recent beneficiary designation form. If you create or update your will, we strongly advise that you ensure that you review your OPB beneficiary designation and ensure that it reflects your wishes.
Takeaways and advice
It's critical that you submit, regularly review, and update your beneficiary designations with us. It’s the best way to ensure that your designations reflect your wishes. It's never too early to make those designations.
If you need instructions on how to update your beneficiaries online, please refer to our Updating your Beneficiaries Online guide which is available from the main beneficiaries page in e-services.
For definitions of key words such as "eligible spouse" and "eligible children", check out the glossary page.
For more information about pre-retirement death and details about your eligible spouse, visit How changes in your life impact your pension.
Don’t forget to log-in to your e-services account to securely update your beneficiaries online.
Check out the Pension Estimator in your e-services account to determine what the adjustment will be to your pension.
For more details about your joint and survivor pension, please read Planning today for tomorrow (PDF).
For information about government pensions and benefits, please read: