Planning for retirement

Verification of length of full-time and part-time pensionable service

The majority of federal departments and agencies provide employees with annual pension and benefit statements. In order avoid any unforeseen surprises or disappointments at the date of retirement, members should verify their length of full-time and part-time pensionable service with their departmental pay and benefits officer well in advance of a pending retirement date. Members are also encouraged to maintain their own employment records and documentation in the eventuality of a dispute or disagreement over superannuation benefit entitlements based on pensionable service.

Elective pensionable service and pension transfer agreements

The amount of a PSSA benefit entitlement is directly dependent on the PSSA participant’s length of pensionable service. The PSSA provides contributors with opportunities to increase pensionable service through elective service provisions and Pension Transfer Agreements.

Elective Service

The types of elective service for which a PSSA contributor could obtain credit include:

  • Prior Federal Public Service Not Included as Pensionable Service
  • Service with the Canadian Forces
  • Service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • War Service
  • Civilian War Service
  • Service as a Locally-Engaged Employee
  • Service with an International Organization
  • Service as a Member of Parliament
  • Outside Pensionable Employment which is “immediately prior” to employment with the Federal Public Service
  • Previous Periods of Leave without Pay Not Included as Pensionable Service

PSAC members are encouraged to consult with their designated departmental pay and benefits specialist if any of the foregoing represents an opportunity for elective service. A cost estimate can be obtained in advance to assist with assessing whether pursuing a past service election is a viable option. The Treasury Board Secretariat website also includes an elective service buyback estimator.

The cost of electing prior pensionable service is dependent on a number of factors including the type of elective service, the timing of the actual election and the method of payment for the elective service. In all cases involving a “late” election (i.e. more than one year subsequent to commencing contributions to the PSSA) the contributor is also required to pass a medical examination administered by Health Canada in order to validate an election.

Pension Transfer Agreements

Pension Transfer Agreements (PTAs) provide for portability of accrued pension benefits and service between the PSSA and other pension arrangements.

Treasury Board Secretariat website has a list of PTAs in force between the Government of Canada and other pension plan sponsors.

This list is updated frequently. Ordinarily the option to transfer pensionable service via an existing PTA expires after one year of contributor status under the PSSA. However, members retaining pensionable service entitlements with another pension arrangement where no PTA currently exists are encouraged to continue to monitor the Treasury Board Secretariat listing in the eventuality that a PTA is eventually concluded between the Government of Canada and the sponsor of the other pension arrangement. This would then provide the opportunity to transfer the prior pensionable service to the PSSA in an administratively efficient and cost effective manner.

Personal Documentation

Missing and inaccurate personal documentation will result in errors and delays in the processing of superannuation benefit entitlements.

PSSA Regulations identify the documentary evidence required to substantiate entitlement to various superannuation options and benefits.

To avoid any unnecessary hardship and inconvenience, PSAC members are encouraged to ensure that their personal file with the employing department or agency contains current personal documentation and information including:

  1. proof of age of contributor;
  2. accurate designation of beneficiary for Supplementary Death Benefit (Form PWGSC-TPSGC 2196 – “Naming or Substitution of Beneficiary”)
  3. names and detailed contact information of any survivor(s) and children;
  4. proof of age of any survivor(s) and children;
  5. documentation related to marital and family status:
    1. marriage certificate or evidentiary documentation to substantiate cohabitation in a relationship of a conjugal nature;
    2. divorce decree, separation papers, or death certificate of survivor;
    3. where there was a previous marriage, the marriage certificate of that marriage and the death certificate or divorce decree in respect of the former survivor;
    4. where the contributor is living apart from his/her survivor, written record of contributor's view relating to the circumstances;
    5. relevant documentation relating to children (e.g. proof of age, adoption papers, evidence of guardianship, evidence of continuous attendance at qualified educational institution, etc.);
    6. declaration of evidence relating to a change of name (other than by marriage) or reconciling any difference between name on personal documents and name on the appointing certificate.

Pre-retirement Transition Leave

Policy For interested employees within two years of eligibility for an immediate annuity, a Treasury Board of Canada policy exists which provides the opportunity for a gradual transition to retirement.

The Pre-retirement Transition Leave Policy allows employees in these situations to reduce the length of their workweek up to 40 per cent and maintain pension and benefit coverages (as well as required contributions/premiums) at pre-arrangement levels. However, please note that pre-retirement transition leave is subject to managerial approval and discretion, based on operational feasibility.

For more see: Preretirement Transition Leave Policy (Treasury Board)

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December 9, 2015
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