Your Pension and Benefits Liaison: Information for retired members of the federal public service pension plan, issue 14

From Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Issue 14: 2020

For COVID-19 updates specific to Government of Canada employees, please visit the Information for Government of Canada employees: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) web page.

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Is COVID-19 affecting my pension?

Pension services

The Government of Canada Pension Centre (Pension Centre) is pleased to advise that it continues to maintain its service levels during this pandemic, with the exception of increased wait times when contacted by phone. The pension calendar contains useful information on when you can expect your monthly pension payment.

Pension fund health

The Government of Canada remains committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the public sector pension plans. Over the past 10 years, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSPIB), which manages investments on behalf of the plans, generated returns that exceed benchmarks, ensuring the public service pension plan is in good health and adequately funded to fully meet member benefits.

Important pension reminders

  1. Remember to have all statutory declarations notarized by a lawyer, Justice of the Peace, Notary Public or Commissioner of Oaths. For example:
    • request for a Pension Benefits Division
    • declaration of a common-law relationship
    • declaration of a power of attorney
  2. Please ensure that the Pension Centre has your correct mailing address, phone number and email address on file in order to receive your correspondence, including your annual T4As in a timely fashion. You can update your contact information by notifying the Pension Centre.

Tip: Register for epost to access your T4As online.

Financial flexibility provisions

Did you know that there are pension plan provisions that may provide you with repayment flexibility if you are experiencing financial difficulty? For example:

  • If you are currently repaying pension contributions and Supplementary Death Benefit premiums owed for a period during which you had been on leave without pay, you may request to have these payments reduced to 15% of your gross monthly pension amount.
  • If you are facing a pension overpayment that is, or will be, deducted from your monthly pension benefit, the required recovery payment could be reduced from 10% to 5% of your gross monthly pension benefit (to a minimum of $10), until the overpayment is paid in full.

For more information on the flexible repayment options available to you, please refer to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Provisions providing flexibility: Public service pension plan (PSPP).

If you would like to discuss taking advantage of one of these provisions, contact the Pension Centre for more information.

COVID-19 temporary measures applied to the Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary changes to the Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan (PDSP) were implemented in recognition that coverage for some dependant children may have expired during the suspension of non-emergency dental services, preventing them from receiving required dental services or treatments. The temporary measures are to ensure continued dental coverage for your dependant children, if they were eligible under the plan before March 15, 2020.

For information on whether your dependant child qualifies for the coverage extension and what to provide to Sun Life, refer to the COVID-19 temporary administrative measures: Public Service Dental Care Plan (PSDCP) and Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan (PDSP).

The temporary measure will be in effect for one year from a date determined by the Government of Canada. This date will be communicated once determined.

COVID-19 temporary measures applied to the Public Service Health Care Plan

Temporary changes to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) were implemented in order to help PSHCP members and eligible dependants access health care benefits while minimizing social interaction with health care professionals.

The following flexibilities remain in effect until non-critical business is authorized to resume or as indicated otherwise:

  • temporary extension of emergency travel benefits
  • temporary changes to accepted mental health practitioners
  • temporary changes to prescription requirements
  • coverage for virtual paramedical services

For more information, refer to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Temporary measures: Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP).

If you are a PSHCP plan member residing in Canada, you can submit claims for services and benefits electronically on the Sun Life Member Services website and the my Sun Life Mobile application available on Apple and Android devices.

To submit claims electronically, you must either:

  1. Register through Sun Life’s Member Services website, or
  2. Download the free my Sun Life Mobile app from the App Store and Google Play.

To process your claims electronically, Sun Life will require your email address and banking details.

Tip: Keep copies of your receipts, completed claim forms and any other documentation for reference purposes.

Temporary changes to the Out-of-Province Benefit

The PSHCP temporary extension of emergency travel benefits is one of the changes that came into effect in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanded trip duration coverage for you and your eligible dependants applies only if you left your home province or territory between January 17 and March 16, 2020, and are unable to return home.

Anyone who travels after March 17, 2020, is subject to the standard Out-of-Province Benefit trip duration of 40 days, along with the normal plan maximum of $500,000 (CAD) in eligible expenses incurred as a result of an emergency while travelling.

For assistance with travel-related medical emergencies, PSHCP members travelling in Canada or the United States can call Allianz toll-free at 1-800-667-2883. Plan members in all other countries should call Allianz collect at 519-742-1342.

Coverage of Personal Protective Equipment

Please note that personal protective equipment (PPE) is not an eligible expense under the PSHCP or the PDSP. It is recommended that prior to a medical or dental appointment you contact your provider as you may be charged additional expenses for the cost of PPE. If so, you will be out of pocket for the expense as it will not be reimbursed under the plans.

New pension and benefits email notification system New!

We are excited to announce that this fall we will be launching an email notification system that will provide you with more frequent and timely information about your public service pension and group insurance benefit plans. You will be able to subscribe using your email address and even select the specific topics on which you would like to receive regular updates. Mail on this will be coming soon!

Direct deposit and epost

If you have not already enrolled in direct deposit, we encourage you to do so by calling or sending a written request along with a void cheque to the Pension Centre.

Have you already signed up for epost to receive your personalized pension information electronically? Visit the epost site for information on how to register to receive your Annual Pensioner’s Statement and income tax and direct deposit statements.

Note

Some federal agencies, Crown corporations and territorial governments do not participate in the public service group benefit plans. Even if your former employer did not participate in all public service group insurance benefit plans, as a retired member you may be eligible to join these plans. To find out if you are eligible, please call the Pension Centre.

Disclaimer

Your Pension and Benefits Liaison newsletter is provided for information purposes only and is not a legal document on your rights and obligations. Should there be any discrepancy between the information in this document and that contained in the Public Service Superannuation Act and related regulations or other applicable laws, the legislative provisions will apply. Similarly, should there be any discrepancy between information in this document and that contained in the group insurance benefits plan provisions or insurance contracts, the plan provisions or insurance contracts will apply.

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