Becoming a survivor - Pension

As survivors of a public service plan member, you and your eligible children may be entitled to survivor benefits and child allowances under the public service pension plan. The following information is intended to provide you with an understanding of your pension benefits.

Note: In the event of a plan member's death, the Government of Canada Pension Centre (Pension Centre) should be notified immediately. If the plan member was still employed, contact either the Public Service Pay Centre or your departmental compensation services for information on other possible pay-related benefits that may be payable.

You may want to know…

  • My spouse was a public servant but died recently.

    Am I eligible for a survivor benefit?

    The survivor of a deceased member may apply for a survivor benefit under the public service pension plan. Eligible children may also be entitled to a child allowance under the public service pension plan.

    If you have any questions, please contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre.

    Is the survivor benefit reviewed for accuracy before it is paid?

    A thorough review of a deceased plan member’s pension account is performed to ensure all eligible survivors receive the payments they are due; any errors in the plan member’s pension payments would be revealed at this time.

    If my spouse received a pension overpayment, how will it be collected?

    Pension overpayments may be collected from the plan member’s estate only.

  • What do you do if you are the survivor of a deceased member of the public service pension plan?

    You must immediately notify the Government of Canada Pension Centre. You will be informed whether benefits are payable under the public service pension plan and the Supplementary Death Benefit and how to apply for these benefits, if applicable.

  • Following a plan member's death, who is entitled to benefits and what are the benefits?

    The survivor of a deceased member may apply for a survivor benefit under the public service pension plan. If the member has a surviving legal spouse (from whom he or she had separated), and he or she also has a common-law partner, the survivor benefit could be split between the two surviving spouses based on the length of time each one lived with the member.

    Eligible children may be entitled to a child allowance under the public service pension plan. The allowance for children who are 18 years of age or older but under age 25 and who are full-time students is paid directly to the students. This allowance is payable in addition to the benefits payable to the survivor.

    If there is no survivor or eligible child, the public service pension plan provides for a minimum benefit payable to the beneficiary designated under the Supplementary Death Benefit or, in the absence of such a beneficiary, to the deceased member's estate.

  • Are there instances where the surviving spouse is not entitled to the survivor benefit under the public service pension plan?

    Yes. You are not entitled to the survivor benefit if:

    • at the time of the plan member's death you were divorced from the plan member;
    • the plan member's death occurred in the first year of marriage unless it is proven that, at the time of the marriage, it was reasonable to assume that the plan member could have lived at least one year;
    • you married after the plan member retired and the plan member did not opt to provide you with a survivor benefit; or
    • you are found criminally responsible for the death of the plan member.
  • Are there instances where the children are not entitled to the child allowance under the public service pension plan?

    Yes. Children are not entitled to the child allowance in the following cases:

    • They were born, were adopted or became the plan member's stepchildren after the member retired.
    • They were born or adopted or became the plan member's stepchildren within the plan member's first year of the marriage and the plan member died within that year. In that case, the children would only be entitled to the child allowance if it is proven that, at the time of the marriage, it was reasonable to assume that the plan member could have lived at least one year.
  • Are there any additional death benefits that will be paid out?

    If the member was covered by the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB), the beneficiary designated on the form entitled Naming or Substitution of a Beneficiary (PWGSC-TPSGC 2196) and – not in the Will – is entitled to the SDB.

    The Supplementary Death Benefit is similar to a decreasing term life insurance. The basic benefit is equal to twice the plan member's annual salary upon retirement and it decreases by 10% annually starting at age 66 to a minimum of $10,000. The benefit is paid to the designated beneficiary and is calculated as follows:

    • Annual Salary × 2 (Rounded up to the nearest $1,000)

    Under the public service pension plan, there is a minimum benefit guarantee should there be no more survivors or children eligible to receive a pension. For more information, please refer to minimum benefit.

  • Is the Supplementary Death Benefit beneficiary also entitled to public service pension plan benefits?

    If there is no survivor eligible for a survivor benefit nor any child entitled to a child allowance, the beneficiary designated under the Supplementary Death Benefit may receive the minimum benefit under the public service pension plan. The minimum benefit is a lump sum representing the pension which would have been paid to the plan member for a guaranteed period of five years less any amount that has already been received.

  • Who will receive the benefits, which are normally paid to the beneficiary, if the plan member did not designate a beneficiary under the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB)?

    If no beneficiary was designated, the benefits normally payable to that beneficiary will be paid to the deceased member's estate.

  • What documents are you required to provide when submitting a claim for public service pension plan benefits?

    This table displays what documents are required to provide when submitting a claim for public service pension plan benefits.

    If you are the… You need to provide…
    Legal spouse (legally married to the plan member)
    • Marriage certificate
    • Death certificate
    Common-law partner
    • Statutory Declaration indicating common-law relationship
    • Other reasonable evidence establishing the conjugal nature and duration of the relationship (for example, documents related to a mortgage, a lease, a joint bank account, etc.)
    • Death certificate
    Eligible child under age 18
    • Birth certificate
    • Adoption papers or proof of guardianship
    • Death certificate
    Eligible child 18 years of age or older but under 25
    • Birth certificate
    • Proof of full-time attendance at school or at another educational institution since the age of 18 or since the date of the member's death, whichever is later
    • Death certificate
  • Where do you send the documents required to submit a claim for public service pension plan benefits?

    You must send the required documents to the Government of Canada Pension Centre.

  • How is the survivor benefit paid?

    The survivor benefit is paid in monthly installments for life.

    The benefit is deposited in your bank account on the third last banking day of the month.

  • How is the child allowance paid?

    In most cases, the child allowance for children under age 18 is paid to the survivor on behalf of the children. If the child does not live with the survivor or if the survivor's death occurs while the child is still eligible for the child allowance, the payment is made on behalf of the child to the person who has custody of the child.

    The allowance for children who are 18 years of age or older but under age 25 and who are full-time students is paid directly to the students.

  • Are the survivor benefit and child allowance protected from inflation?

    Yes. The amount of these benefits ensures Protection from Inflation of the cost of living on January 1st of every year. Plan members are informed of the annual indexing rate through the Annual Pensioners' Statement.

  • If you have granted someone a general Power of Attorney, can that person manage your pension affairs?

    If you wish for another person to manage some of your pension affairs, an original, notarized, or a certified true copy of the general Power Of Attorney (POA) document bearing the original signature of the lawyer, notary, commissioner of oaths or justice of the peace must be sent to the Government of Canada Pension Centre. The person you name can then request address changes, direct deposit and choose a benefit on your behalf. However, a POA does not provide that person with the authority to change the recipient of a pension benefit or to change a beneficiary under the Supplementary Death Benefit.

    In order to protect our plan members, the Pension Centre cannot accept photocopies, faxes or scans of legal documents. Original POA documents will be returned to you by mail.

    If you simply wish to allow someone to make enquiries and receive information about your pension matters, but not make decisions on your behalf, you can provide the Pension Centre with a written consent to that effect.

  • When do survivor benefits end?

    Payment of the survivor benefit cease on the survivor's death.

    The child allowance is paid to each child as long as he or she remains entitled to it.

  • Is your survivor benefit affected by the coordination of benefits with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)/Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)?

    Survivors' benefits are not subject to an adjustment at age 65 due to the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan coordination. The survivor benefit is normally equal to half of the plan member's pension entitlement, that is, half of the plan member's pension calculated before any adjustments. As a survivor, you can receive benefits under the CPP / QPP and also receive a full survivor benefit under the public service pension plan. Visit the Survivor Benefits section of the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan Web site for more information regarding entitlements under these plans.

  • How can you receive pension documents electronically?

    You can receive your tax slips, Direct Deposit statements and future editions of the Annual Pensioners' Statement online through epost  - Canada Post's secure online delivery service. For more information on how to register, visit Register for epost.

Visit Public service group insurance benefit plans for information on benefits.

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