CPP Survivor Benefits
Q - What are CPP survivor benefits?
There are three types of CPP survivor benefits:
- death benefit is a one-time lump sum payment made to the estate of a deceased CPP contributor;
- survivor's pension is a monthly benefit paid to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased CPP contributor; and
- the childrens benefit is a monthly benefit for dependent children of a deceased contributor.
To receive CPP survivor benefits the CPP contributor must meet the CPP contributory requirements and the person receiving the benefits must also meet certain criteria. These will be discussed in more detail below.
Q - What are the contributory requirements of CPP?
There is a minimum contributory requirement (that is, the amount of time the person paid into CPP) of at least 3 years.
If the contributor's CPP contributory period is longer than nine years, he or she must have contributed in:
- one third of the calendar years in the contributor's "contributory period", or
- 10 calendar years, whichever is less.
Q - Who gets the CPP death benefit?
The CPP death benefit goes to the deceaseds estate. If there is no estate, the benefit goes to the person who paid the funeral expenses, spouse, common-law partner, or next-of-kin (in this order of priority).
Q - How much is the CPP death benefit?
The amount of the death benefit depends on how much and for how long you paid into CPP. The death benefit is a one-time lump sum payment. CPP will figure out the amount of the death benefit by calculating how much your CPP retirement pension is, or would have been if you had been age 65 when you died.
The death benefit is equal to six months' worth of this "calculated" retirement pension, up to a maximum of $2,500.
CPP rates are adjusted every year in January if there are increases in the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index. For example, in March 2010 the average CPP death benefit amount was $2,256.44.
Q - Who may get the CPP survivors pension?
The survivors pension is a monthly payment made to the surviving married spouse or common-law partner of the deceased. For CPP purposes common law partners are opposite or same sex partners who have lived together, in a marriage-like relationship for at least one year, including registered domestic partners who have lived together for at least 12 months.
It includes married spouses, common-law partners, or registered domestic partners who began living together after retirement.
If you are separated from your spouse and he or she dies, you may qualify for the benefit if he or she had no common-law partner at the time of death.
If you are widowed more than once you will only receive one survivor's pension payment. It will be based the larger of the pensions.
If you are receiving a survivor's pension it will continue even if you remarry. However, this was not the case before 1987. If you are a survivor whos had a pension taken away because you remarried you should contact Service Canada to see if you are now eligible.
Q - How much is the CPP survivors pension?
The amount a surviving spouse or common-law (opposite or same sex) partner will receive depends on:
- whether he or she is also receiving a CPP disability or retirement pension;
- how much, and for how long, the deceased spouse paid into CPP; and
- the survivors age at the date his or her spouse died.
CPP rates are adjusted every January if there are increases in the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
In March 2010 the average monthly payment amount for the survivor's benefit pension was $365.85 for survivors under age 65 and $297.98 for survivors 65 and over.
Visit Service Canada's website
for more information about survivor's pension rates.
Q - Can I get the survivor's pension and other CPP benefits?
You may receive a survivor's pension even if you receive a CPP retirement or disability benefit. The survivor benefit will be combined with the other benefit into one monthly payment. There is a limit to the amount you will receive.
You will not receive a full survivor's pension at the same time that you receive a full CPP retirement pension or disability benefit.
- The most that can be paid if you are eligible for both the disability benefit and the survivor's pension is the maximum disability benefit. For example, the maximum monthly amount for the disability benefit in 2010 is $1,126.76.
- The most that can be paid if you are eligible for the CPP retirement pension and the survivor's pension is the maximum retirement pension. For example, the maximum monthly amount for the retirement pension in 2010 is $934.17.
- The total amount of combined CPP benefits paid is adjusted based on the survivor's age and other benefits received.
Q - When is the survivors pension payments made?
The survivors pension can begin the month after the contributor's death. CPP will process the application as soon as it has all the necessary information. It could take six to 12 weeks for the first payment to arrive. If the survivor delays in applying, CPP can only make back payments for up to 12 months from the death of the contributor.
Q - When does the CPP survivors pension stop?
If the survivor is over age 35 when the contributor died, the pension will stop the month after the survivors death. If the survivor is under age 35 when the contributor died, the survivor's pension ends when:
- The survivor is no longer disabled; or
- The survivor is no longer raising the deceased contributor's dependent child; or
- The month after the survivors death.
The pension does not stop if the survivor remarries or lives in a common law relationship (same- or opposite-sex).
If any changes affect the survivor's eligibility he or she must notify CPP immediately. If a survivor receives payment to which he or she is no longer entitled, the money may have to be paid back to CPP.
Q - Who may get the CPP children's benefit?
The children's benefit is paid to a dependent natural or adopted child of the deceased contributor, or a child who was 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 enrolled full-time at a school or university that is a recognized institution by CPP.
For more information on children's benefits for students between the ages of 18 to 25 visit the Service Canada website at http://www.rhdcc-hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/isp/pub/factsheets/studben.shtml or call (toll free)
If the child is under age 18 then the children's benefit will generally be paid to the person with whom the child is living. However, in some cases, the benefit can be paid directly 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 child can apply to have the benefit paid directly to him or her.
A child may get up to two benefits if:
- both parents paid into CPP for the minimum number of years, and
- each parent is either disabled (that is, qualifies as disabled according to CPP rules) or deceased.
CPP rates are adjusted every January if there are increases in the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index. In July 2009 the average monthly amount of the children's benefit was $213.99.
Q - When is the children's benefit payments made?
The children's benefit can begin the month after the contributor's death. CPP can start processing the application when it has all the necessary information. It could take six to 12 weeks for the first payment to arrive. If the child (or guardian) delays in applying, CPP can only make back payments for up to 12 months from the death of the contributor.
Q - When does the CPP children's benefit stop?
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 (CPP recognized institution); or
- the child reaches age 25; or
- the child dies.
If the child leaves school and then later returns to school full-time, he or she can apply to have the children's benefit reinstated. Payments could begin the month he or she returns to school.
If any changes affect the child's eligibility he or she must notify CPP immediately. If a child receives payment to which he or she is no longer entitled, the money may have to be paid back to CPP.
Q - How do you apply for CPP survivor benefits?
The survivor is responsible for making an application for CPP survivor benefits. You should apply for the benefit as soon as possible after the contributors death. If you delay you may lose benefits you were entitled to. CPP can only make back payments for up to12 months. If you are unable or incapable of completing an application yourself, you may have a representative apply for you.
You can get the application form from CPP at any Service Canada office and many funeral homes, or you can call Service Canada (toll free) at 1-800-277-9914.
For more information on how to apply for the CPP death benefit visit http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eforms/forms/isp1200e.pdf or call Service Canada at the above number(s).
Once CPP has received all of the necessary documents the death benefit is generally paid within 6-12 weeks of the application.
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