OSPC - FAQS - Overview of Manitoba Pension Laws

Death Benefits


The main objective of The Pension Benefits Act (the act) is to protect employees' rights to the benefits that are promised under private pension plans.  The following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Manitoba's pension laws.  You should refer to the act for further information on Manitoba's pension laws.  To find out the details of your particular pension plan (the terms of your plan may be more generous than required by the act), you should contact the plan administrator.

NOTE: Descriptions of the various pension plan options and terms discussed in these answers can be found at the bottom of the page.

If my spouse or common-law partner dies before receiving a pension, am I entitled to receive those pension benefits?

The plan your spouse or partner had must provide a pension to you, unless:

  • at the time of death, he/she was living separate and apart from you because your relationship broke down or
  • you signed a written waiver to give up the right to the pension and the waiver has not been revoked

Who receives the benefit if there is no spouse or common-law partner?

If there is no spouse or common-law partner who is entitled to your pension, it may be paid to your beneficiary (a beneficiary who is not your spouse or common-law partner), or to your estate, if there is no designated beneficiary.

Can the spousal benefits be waived (given up voluntarily)?

As a spouse or common-law partner who is (or might become) entitled to a pension benefit, you may waive (volunteer to give up) your rights and not receive it. This can only be done after the plan administrator has given you the necessary information (stated by the regulation) and you sign the required legal waiver form and give it to the plan administrator.

For example:

Cathy and Brent were married for five years when Brent died. Although Cathy and Brent had no children, Brent had two children from a previous marriage. Prior to his death, Brent had indicated that he wanted his children to receive the death benefit from his plan. Cathy is financially set and would also prefer to see Brent's children receive the death benefit. Cathy can waive her right to the death benefit so that Brent's children can receive the death benefit.

Can I revoke the waiver?

A waiver may be revoked before the death of the pension plan member. Both you and your spouse or common-law partner must give written notice to the plan administrator that you want to revoke the waiver.

How are the benefits payable?

As a spouse or common-law partner, you may:

  • transfer the value of the pension to either a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA), Life Income Fund (LIF) or Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP).
  • start receiving monthly pension payment immediately or a future date

The Office of the Superintendent - Pension Commission has a list of financial institutions permitted to offer LIRA's and LIFs. Funds may only be transferred to a financial institution on this list.

Any benefits payable to an estate or beneficiary are payable as a lump sum.

Can I withdraw my LIRA funds as a lump sum in cash?

Funds in a LIRA are governed by the provincial act and may not be withdrawn as a lump sum. They can be transferred to a Life Income Fund (LIF) at any age to provide retirement income.

How do I get money out of my Life Income Fund?

LIF funds governed by Manitoba's regulations may be used at any age to provide retirement income, up to the maximum amount allowed by the LIF. The funds may not be withdrawn as a lump sum in cash at any age.

The income must be at least the minimum amount stated in the federal Income Tax Act and the maximum amount stated in the provincial regulations under The Pension Benefits Act. The Office of the Superintendent - Pension Commission has a list of financial companies permitted to offer LIFs.

See Bulletin #2 for more information. For a copy of the bulletin or if you need more information, contact the Office of Superintendent - Pension Commission at (204) 945-2740 in Winnipeg, 1-800-2825-8069, extension 2740 toll free.

If I die before retirement, will my spouse or common-law partner receive financial information about my plan?

Yes. The plan administrator must provide a pre-retirement death statement within 60 days of receiving proper notification of your death. This statement will outline the benefits payable and any options available.

For information on death benefits contact your plan administrator or financial institution.

If you have more questions about the act or regulations, contact the Office of Superintendent - Pension Commission at (204) 945-2740 in Winnipeg; 1-800-282-8069, extension 2740 toll free; or go to www.gov.mb.ca/labour/pension.

Definitions

Life Income Fund is an investment that pays an adjustable amount of retirement income to the LIF owner, based on prescribed annuity factors. It must be at least the minimum amount stated in the federal Income Tax Act and the maximum amount stated in the provincial regulations under the Manitoba act.

Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) is an investment that allows your money (pension benefits) to continue to grow and accumulate interest while being held (or locked in) in the fund until you retire. LIRAs replace locked-in, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), although they operate in the same way. A LIRA is a RRSP that is governed by the provincial act and holds locked-in pension funds until they are used for retirement.

Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) is a defined contribution-style plan that is set up and administered by a licensed provider and administered by the financial institution.

Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) is a personal retirement income fund that is governed by the federal Income Tax Act (Canada).

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a personal retirement savings plan governed by the federal Income Tax Act (Canada).

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