Pension Adjustments (PAs)

What is a pension adjustment?

A Pension Adjustment (PA) is an annual calculation submitted to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that estimates the pension value a member earned in a registered pension plan in a tax year. It is reported on a T4.

The PA was introduced in 1990 to essentially level the retirement savings playing field between individuals who earn a pension entitlement in Registered Pension Plans (RPP) and those who do not. The PA reduces a RPP member's RRSP contribution room for the following year to ensure individuals who belong to a RPP aren't able to save more tax-sheltered funds for retirement than those without a RPP.

For example, an individual's PA from 2017 will be used to lower their RRSP contribution room in 2018.

Employer responsibilities

Since employers are responsible for calculating PAs for PSPP members, we've prepared the following instructions about when to report PAs to OPB and how to calculate PAs for a variety of scenarios:

Additional scenarios

When to report PAs to OPB

After you've filed PSPP members' T4s with CRA (including their PAs), please remember to also send the 2017 PAs to OPB by February 9, 2018.

Please send members' PAs electronically in a password protected Excel spreadsheet. The layout should be one column per field in the order and format indicated below:

Column Format
Social Insurance Number 9 Digits
Employee Surname 30 Characters
Employee First Name 30 Characters
PA Year YYYY
PA Amount (rounded to the nearest $) 8 Digits
Amended PA* (rounded to the nearest $) 8 Digits
Termination Date (if applicable) YYYYMMDD

Why do I have to report PAs to OPB?

PAs are just an estimate of the value of the benefit a member earned in the PSPP. We can't actually determine the total value a member has earned until they terminate their membership and we calculate their benefit.

If a member terminates and opts to transfer their benefit out of the Plan, we're required to check whether the PAs were overstated; i.e., meaning the member lost too much RRSP room.

If the member lost too much room we'll file a pension adjustment reversal (PAR) with CRA to restore the member's RRSP contribution room to the correct level.

Important: Don't report PAs for members who died during the year.

How to calculate a PA - The basics

PAs for individuals enrolled in a registered defined benefit pension plan are calculated using the following formula:

Benefit Entitlement x 9 - $600

Here's how to calculate a PA for a PSPP member:

Step 1: Calculate the member's Benefit Entitlement (BE) using the PSPP benefit formula:

Benefit formula:

(2% x 2017 Annual Salary) - [0.7% x (lesser of 2017 YMPE and 2017 Annual Salary)]

Step 2: Insert the BE you calculate above into the pension adjustment (PA) formula:

PA formula: BE x 9 - $600 (rounded to the nearest dollar)

Note: If the amount is halfway between two dollar amounts, round to the next highest dollar.

To calculate a member's PA, you need the following 3 figures:

  1. 2017 Annual Salary

    Please use the member's base annual salary to calculate their PA. Base salary excludes overtime pay or any payment made in lieu of a benefit, or any other payment that is not part of the member's regular annual salary; e.g., vacation pay, expense reimbursements, and/or bonuses. 

    Annual salary for part-time or unclassified members 

    Annual salary for members employed on a part-time or unclassified (variable hours) basis is the amount the member would have received had they worked on a full time basis throughout the year.
  2. Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE)

    The YMPE is an annual figure that the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) uses to calculate benefits from that Plan. Since the PSPP is integrated with the CPP, this figure is incorporated into the calculation of Plan benefits and members' PAs. The YMPE for 2018 is $55,900

    Note: If you need to calculate or recalculate a prior year PA, please remember to use the annual YMPE for that year (PDF). Also, you don't have to report an amended PA if the difference between the original PA and the amended PA is less than fifty dollars.
  3. Annual PA Maximum 

    Before filing PSPP members' PAs with CRA, please remember that the PAs reported to CRA and OPB must be less than or equal to the Annual Maximum PA allowed under the Income Tax Act (ITA). The maximum PA for 2017 is $25,630

    Note: If you need to calculate or recalculated a prior year PA, please remember to check the maximum allowable PA for that year (PDF) before remitting the PA to CRA and OPB.

PA calculation example - basic (i.e., for a full-time member)

 

How to calculate a PA for a member who works on a regular part-time (RPT) or unclassified (variable hours) basis

If the member works less than full-time, first calculate the PA as if the member was employed on a full-time basis (i.e., use the annual salary for the full-time equivalent), and then pro-rate that figure by the member's RPT ratio, or by the number of hours they actually worked over the course of the year.

PA calculation example - RPT member

PA calculation example - unclassified member

How to calculate a PA for a partial year of credit

If the member earned less than one year of credit, you must prorate the PA as follows:

PA x (number of days of credit) divided by 365 days (use 366 days for a leap year)

Examples of members who earn less than a full year of credit include:

  • new members who joined part-way through the year;
  • members who work less than full-time;
  • members who terminated or retired part-way through the year; and
  • members who took an approved unpaid leave of absence (including pregnancy or parental leave) and who didn't contribute for their leave of absence.

PA Calculation example - a partial year of credit

How to calculate a PA when a member's salary rate changes during the year

If the member's salary rate changes during the year, the annual salary used to calculate their PA is a weighted average. To calculate the weighted average, you need to:

  1. Pro-rate each salary rate by the number of days the member worked at each salary; and
  2. add all the pro-rated salaries together.

This will give you the weighted average.

Example:

Salary rate 1: $80,000.00 (effective from January 1, 2017 to April 28, 2017 or 118 days)

Salary rate 2: $90,000.00 (effective from April 29, 2017 and onwards or 247 days)

Step 1: Calculate the weighted average to determine the annual salary:

(118/365) x $80,000.00 + (247/365) x $90,000.00 = $86,767.12

Note: Use 366 days for leap years.

Step 2: Calculate the Benefit Entitlement (BE):

Based on a full year of credit and an annual salary of $86,767.12, the 2017 BE is: (2% x $86,767.12) - (0.7% x 55,300.00) = $1,348.24

Step 3: Calculate the Pension Adjustment (PA):

Using the BE calculated above, the 2017 PA is: ($1,348.24 x 9) - $600.00 = $11,534.16

Report the PA ($11,534), rounded to the nearest dollar, to CRA.

How to calculate a PA when a member contributes during a leave of absence

If the member contributes for their unpaid leave of absence, we'll send you a letter indicating the pension credit that the member earned during their leave. You must include this credit when calculating the member's PA.

Depending on when the leave ends, we may not be able to send the letter until after you've already filed the member's T4 with CRA. If you receive our letter after your annual T4 filing, you're responsible for sending an amended T4 to CRA with the adjusted PA.

Example:

Mary took an unpaid leave of absence from July 12, 2016 to April 30, 2017. During her leave, Mary continued to contribute to the PSPP and earned an additional 173 days of credit in 2016 and 120 days of credit in 2017.

Since Mary contributed during her leave, we'll notify Mary's employer about the additional credit when she returns to work. Mary's employer will have to include the 173 days of credit to her 2016 PA.

Because Mary's leave didn't finish until after CRA's 2016 deadline for filing T4s, her employer will have to send an amended 2016 T4 with a PA that includes the additional 173 days of credit. The 120 days in 2017 will be included when the employer calculates her 2017 PA.

How to calculate a PA when member receives a retroactive salary adjustment

When a member receives a lump sum retroactive salary increase, it's accounted for in the year it's paid for PAs. When a member receives a lump sum retroactive salary payment, you need to add the additional pension benefit related to the payment to the member's PA for the year in which you paid the retroactive salary increase. Any PA changes are subject to the annual PA maximum in both the year the salary increase is effective and the year it's paid.

Example:

John receives a retroactive salary increase in 2017. However, the effective date of the salary change was in 2016. Therefore, John's employer must calculate the PA that should have been reported for 2016 (with the retro) and then subtract the PA actually reported in 2016 (without the retro). The employer then adds the difference between the two figures to John's 2017 PA up to the 2017 annual PA maximum of $25,630.

Important: Please remember that if the 2016 PA you originally reported for John (i.e., without the retro) was already at the maximum allowed ($25,410), you don't need to report an amended PA in 2017.

How to calculate PAs for members on LTIP or LTD

Members on LTIP/LTD continue to accrue pension credit in the PSPP since their employer is required to make contributions on their behalf.

When calculating the member's PA, treat periods where they were eligible to LTIP/LTD as if they were still at work.

Example:

Janice goes on an unpaid illness leave on March 31. On September 1, Janice becomes eligible for LTIP/LTD and her employer contributes to the PSPP on her behalf throughout the rest of the year.

To calculate Janice's PA, her employer must use the service Janice earned prior to going on leave (Jan 1 to Mar 30), service related to the LTIP/LTD period (Sept 1 to Dec 31), and any credit she earned during her leave of absence (Mar 31 to Aug 31).

How to calculate a PA when a member transfers between the PSPP and the OPSEU Pension Plan (for employers who participate in both Plans)

When a member transfers between the PSPP and the OPSEU Pension Plan during the year, you must calculate the PA for the benefit earned in each Plan separately and report them as one figure on the member's T4.

Example:

Jon has worked at ABC, an organization that participates in both the PSPP and the OPSEU Pension Plan for several years. On May 1, Jon moves to a new position at ABC where he's required to participate in the PSPP. Prior to the move, Jon participated in the OPSEU Plan.

At year-end, Jon's employer must calculate the PA related to the period of membership in the OPSEU Plan (Jan 1 to Apr 30) using that Plan's benefit formula and use the PSPP formula to calculate the PA for the period of service where Jon participated in the PSPP (May 1 to Dec 31). The employer reports both PAs as a single figure on Jon's T4.

Additional Resources

For more information, please see: