Table of Contents
Canada Pension Plan Survivor Benefits
1. What are Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits?
Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits are paid to a deceased contributor's estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner and dependent children. There are three types of benefits:
- The death benefit is a one-time payment to, or on behalf of, the estate of a deceased Canada Pension Plan contributor;
- The survivor's pension is a monthly pension paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased contributor;
- The children's benefit is a monthly benefit for dependent children of a deceased contributor.
It is important to apply for Canada Pension Plan benefits. If you do not apply, you may lose benefits you are entitled to receive.
2. How long must I contribute for my survivors to receive benefits?
If your Canada Pension Plan "contributory period" is longer than nine years, you must have contributed in:
- one third of the calendar years in your contributory period; or
- 10 calendar years, whichever is less.
There is a minimum contributory requirement of at least 3 years.
3. Who is eligible for survivor benefits?
The Canada Pension Plan death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment made to the deceased contributor's estate. If there is no estate, the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the surviving spouse or common-law partner or the next of kin may be eligible, in that order.
The Canada Pension Plan survivor's pension is paid to the person who, at the time of death, is the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased contributor (see the definition of "spouse" and "common-law partner"). If you are a separated legal spouse and there is no cohabiting common-law partner, you may qualify for this benefit.
If your deceased same-sex common-law partner contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, you could be eligible for survivor's benefits.
The Canada Pension Plan children's benefit is paid to a dependent natural or adopted child of the deceased contributor, or a child in the care and control of the deceased contributor at the time of death. The child must be either under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university.
4. How much is the death benefit?
As with most Canada Pension Plan benefits, the amount of the death benefit depends on how much, and for how long, you paid into the Canada Pension Plan.
Canada Pension Plan first calculates the amount that your Canada Pension Plan retirement pension is, or would have been if you had been age 65 when death occurred. The death benefit is equal to six months' worth of this "calculated" retirement pension, up to a maximum of $2,500.
5. How much will a surviving spouse or common-law partner receive?
The amount a surviving spouse or common-law partner will receive depends on:
- whether the spouse or common-law partner is also receiving a Canada Pension Plan disability or retirement pension (see Combining Canada Pension Plan Pensions);
- how much, and for how long, the contributor has paid into the plan; and
- the spouse or common-law partner's age when the contributor dies.
First the Canada Pension Plan calculates how much the contributor's Canada Pension Plan retirement pension is, or would have been, if the contributor had been 65 at the time of death. Then, a further calculation is done based on the survivor's age at the time of the contributor's death. This chart may help.
See current Canada Pension Plan payment rates.
|If the survivor is:||Then the calculation is:|
6. Who qualifies for the children's benefit and how much is it?
A child who has lost at least one parent who was a Canada Pension Plan contributor may qualify. For the benefit to be paid, the deceased parent must have met the contributory requirements.
The monthly children's benefit is a flat rate that is adjusted annually. In 2011, the children's benefit is $218.50 per month.
A child may get up to two benefits if:
- both parents paid into the Canada Pension Plan for the minimum number of years, and
- each parent is either disabled (according to Canada Pension Plan rules) or deceased.
Our Disability Benefits section can provide you with more information.
Note: If the child is under the age of 18, the benefit is normally paid to the person with whom the child is living. However, in some cases, the benefit can be paid to the child who has applied. If the child is 18 or older and qualifies because of full-time attendance at a school or university, the benefit is paid directly to him or her on application.
Applying for Survivor Benefits
7. Are benefits always paid?
8. If I am the survivor, when should I apply?
You should apply as soon as possible after the contributor's death. If you delay, you may lose benefits. Canada Pension Plan can only make back payments for up to 12 months.
Note: If you are widowed more than once, only one survivor's pension - the larger - will be paid.
9. Who should complete the application?
As the survivor, you are responsible for applying for your monthly pension. If you are incapable of applying, you may have a representative (such as a trustee) apply for you.
If you are caring for a dependent child of the deceased contributor and the child is under the age of 18, you should also apply for the children's benefit on behalf of the child. However, children under age 18 who are living on their own may complete their own application.
Dependent children who are between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university should apply for the children's benefit themselves.
The executor, administrator or a legal representative of the estate should apply for the death benefit. If there is no estate, the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the survivor or the next of kin may apply, in that order.
10. How do I apply?
You must complete an application form. Application kits are available from any Service Canada Centre and many funeral homes. The kit contains the information and instructions as well as a list of documents you will need to include with your application.
You may ask for a kit or assistance at any time by calling us free of charge at 1‑800‑277‑9914 (TTY: 1‑800‑255‑4786).
Receiving Survivor Benefits
11. When is the death benefit paid?
If we have the required documentation, the one-time death benefit is usually paid within 6 to 12 weeks of application.
12. When do monthly benefits begin?
The survivor's pension and children's benefit can be paid beginning the month after the contributor's death. As soon as the Canada Pension Plan has all the information and documentation, your application will be processed. It could take 6 to 12 weeks for the first payment to arrive. If you delay in applying, Canada Pension Plan can make back payments for up to 12 months.
13. When should I expect payments to arrive each month?
You will receive your benefit in the last three banking days of each month, by direct deposit or cheque, depending on what method you choose. If you do not receive your payment within a week or if you lose your cheque, contact us immediately.
14. Can my payment be sent to my bank?
Yes. Direct Deposit is a system we use to automatically deposit your Canada Pension Plan payments each month into your bank account in Canada or in a number of other countries. Contact us for more information on how to sign up for direct deposit, how to change your bank information, or how to cancel the direct deposit service.
Please refer to the section entitled Payment Dates for a list of the direct deposit dates.
15. What happens if I move?
You should notify us immediately of your new address, even if your payments are being deposited directly to your bank account. This will allow us to send you important information like your tax slip.
You can notify our voice messaging service of your change of address 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling, free of charge, 1‑800‑277‑9914 (TTY: 1‑800‑255‑4786).
You will be asked to provide your social insurance number, your new address and postal code, and your telephone number including area code. Please note that if you are calling on behalf of another person, we are unable to make changes unless we have written authorization from that person.
16. Will I lose my pension if I remarry?
No. Your pension will continue even if you remarry.
Note: This is a change in the rules that took place in 1987. If you previously lost a Canada Pension Plan survivor benefit because you remarried, contact us to find out if you are now eligible.
17. If a surviving child marries, does he or she lose the children's benefit?
Not necessarily. Benefits are not affected if the child marries, as long as all other conditions of eligibility remain the same.
18. What happens when a child reaches 18?
When the child reaches the age of 18, he or she is still eligible for benefits as long as he or she remains in full-time attendance at a school or university. The child must complete an application form, and a "Declaration of Attendance at School or University". These forms should be filled out as soon as possible because back payments will only cover a 12-month period.
The monthly benefit will be paid directly to the child. The children's benefit is paid during normal school vacations, but will stop if the child has not sent Canada Pension Plan assigned school attendance form when he or she returns to school following vacation. This form must be completed each year or semester and signed by both the child and a school official.
If the child leaves school and then, later, returns to school full-time, the children's benefit may be reinstated. It will be paid starting the month he or she returns to school. The children's benefit will not be reinstated unless the child applies.
19. When will my survivor's pension stop?
If you, the survivor, are over age 35 (at the time of the contributor's death), your pension will stop:
- the month after your death.
If you are under the age of 35, your survivor's pension ends:
- when you are no longer disabled (under Canada Pension Plan legislation); or
- when you are no longer raising the deceased contributor's dependent child; or
- the month after your death.
The children's benefit stops when:
- a child between the age of 18 and 25 is no longer in full-time attendance at a school or university; or
- the child reaches age 25; or
- the child dies.
You must tell Canada Pension Plan about any changes that affect your eligibility. If you do not, and you receive payments to which you are not entitled, you will have to pay them back.
Combining Canada Pension Plan Pensions
20. Can I receive another pension from the Canada Pension Plan while I am getting a Canada Pension Plan survivor's pension?
If you already receive a CPP retirement pension or disability benefit, the survivor benefit will be combined with the other benefit into a single monthly payment.
Please note the following restrictions to benefit amounts:
- The most that can be paid to a person eligible for both the disability benefit and the CPP survivor's pension is the maximum disability benefit (which is more than the maximum survivor's pension by itself).
- The most that can be paid to a person who is eligible for the CPP retirement pension and the CPP survivor's pension is the maximum retirement pension (which is more than the maximum survivor's pension by itself).
- The total amount of combined CPP benefits paid is adjusted based on the survivor's age and other benefits received.
In other words, you cannot receive a full survivor's pension while also receiving a full CPP retirement pension or disability benefit.
When a disability benefit is combined with a survivor's pension, the amount of the disability benefit is reduced and the survivor pension amount remains the same.
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