Survivor Benefits

In the event of the death of a PSSA contributor, the survivor and children become entitled to an immediate allowance.

Definition of « Survivor » 

The PSSA defines survivor as: 
  1. A person who is the lawful spouse of the contributor, providing the marriage occurred prior to retirement (i.e. ceasing to be employed in the Public Service). In cases where a relationship of a conjugal nature existed prior to the date of marriage, the President of the Treasury Board may direct that the marriage be deemed to have occurred at an earlier date.
  2. A person with whom the contributor was cohabiting in a relationship of a conjugal nature for at least one year prior to the death of the contributor. The relationship must have existed prior to the contributor’s retirement.
In the event of death within one year of marriage, no survivor benefit is payable unless the President of the Treasury Board is provided with satisfactory proof that the contributor’s health at the time of the marriage was such that he/she was expected to live for at least one year.
 
In the case of cohabitation in a relationship of a conjugal nature, documentary evidence must be provided that such a relationship remained continuously in effect at least one year prior to and including the date of the contributor’s death. In this instance, the survivor must submit proof to the Superannuation Directorate of the existence of cohabitation in a relationship of a conjugal nature. Such evidence normally takes the form of statutory declarations from disinterested persons who know the circumstances of the relationship, along with copies of bills, receipts, mortgage papers, leases, joint bank accounts credit accounts and any other relevant documentation.
 
In the event a contributor has both a legal spouse and an eligible survivor with whom he/she has lived in a relationship of a conjugal nature, the survivor benefit will be apportioned between the two claimants. Each survivor’s share of the benefit will be based on the length of cohabitation with the contributor.
 
Within 3 months from the date of notice of entitlement to survivor benefit, the survivor has the option of waiving entitlement to the survivor benefit if such a waiver results in the payment of a minimum benefit or a double rate child’s allowance. The two preceding benefit entitlement options are discussed in further detail below.

« Survivor » Benefit Entitlement 

The PSSA provides a survivor benefit equal to one-half the basic accrued superannuation entitlement of the deceased contributor with at least two years of pensionable service. In other words, the survivor benefit is calculated without regard to C/QPP integration or any reduction which would apply to an annual allowance option.
 
For example, the calculation of a survivor benefit payable in the event of the death of a PSSA contributor at age 45 with 25 years of pensionable service and highest average earnings of $45,000 would be: 1 p.100 X 25 X 45 000 $ = 11 250 $ per annum In this particular instance, the calculation of the survivor benefit foregoes any actuarial reduction regarding the fact that the deceased PSSA contributor had not satisfied the age or service requirements for an immediate annuity as of the date of death. The survivor benefit allowance formula also does not include provision for the C/QPP “reduction factor”. The survivor can receive survivor benefits under C/QPP and will also receive the “full” survivor benefit in accordance with the formula above as prescribed in the PSSA.

Definition of « Child »

The term “child” in accordance with the PSSA, includes a natural child, stepchild or adopted child and means a child of a contributor who is: a) less than 18 years of age, or b) over 18 but less than 25 years of age and in full-time attendance at a school or university, having been in such attendance substantially without interruption since reaching age 18 or since the contributor died, whichever is later.
 
Surviving « Child » Allowance Each eligible surviving “child” is entitled to an immediate allowance equal to one-tenth of the basic accrued superannuation entitlement of the deceased PSSA contributor. If there is no “survivor”, then each eligible surviving “child” is entitled to an immediate allowance equal to one-fifth of the basic accrued superannuation entitlement of the deceased PSSA contributor.
 
The maximum combined amount of “child” allowances payable with respect to one contributor is four fifths of the “survivor” benefit. If there is no “survivor” the maximum combined amount payable would be four fifths of the basic accrued superannuation entitlement of the deceased PSSA contributor. If there are more than 4 surviving “children”, the maximum combined amount payable may be divided among the “children”.
 
Benefits are payable to the survivor and children immediately and are normally paid directly to the survivor. If there the children are not residing with the survivor, the children’s allowances are paid to the person designated as responsible for their custody and control. Also, allowances are normally paid directly to children who are over the age of 18.
 
Minimum Benefit (e.g. PSSA contributor with no survivor or « children ») In the event of the death of a PSSA contributor with a minimum of two years of pensionable service where there is no eligible or no longer any eligible survivor or “children” the greater of the two following amounts is payable to the beneficiary named under the Supplementary Death Benefit (SDB) Plan: 
  • Return of Contributions (ROC) plus interest or 
  • Five years of basic accrued superannuation entitlement (i.e. immediate annuity) payments.
Any benefits already paid to a survivor or “children” (excluding indexing benefits) are subtracted from the foregoing amounts.
 
If the PSSA participant has not named a beneficiary, or the designated beneficiary has not survived the PSSA participant, or the PSSA participant has declined coverage under the SDB Plan, then amount is payable to the estate of the deceased PSSA participant. If the amount is less than $1,000, the President of the Treasury Board will designate the person or persons entitled to payment.
 
Concerns have been raised in regards to the adequacy and fairness of the minimum benefit provisions of the PSSA particularly by PSAC members who are “single” and without “children”.

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July 15, 2013
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