Your Spouse or Partner

The term "pension partner" is how the Plan rules refer to someone you are married to, or someone with whom you are in a spouse-like relationship. A pension partner has special rights when it comes to your pension.

The sections below talk about who can be a pension partner, and why it is important for us to be aware of them. A pension partner is often referred to as your spouse or partner throughout this website.

Understanding Your Spouse's or Partner's Rights

Before You Retire

Your spouse or partner receives special protection under the Plan rules and is the sole beneficiary of your pension benefit if you pass away before you start your pension. For instance, PSPP will offer a lifetime pension to your spouse or partner if you pass away after you become vested.

Your spouse or partner can waive the right to any survivor benefit if you die before starting your pension, but the waiver must be completed before you die. The waiver can also be revoked by your spouse or partner at any time prior to your death, making him or her the sole beneficiary once again.

After You Retire

When you retire and start your monthly pension, the Plan rules require you to choose a pension option that will pay a lifetime benefit to your spouse or partner in the event that you are the first one to pass away.

Your spouse or partner can waive the right to this benefit by completing a waiver at the time you retire. This must be done in order to allow you to select a single lifetime pension option, and to name other beneficiaries.

The Difference Between a Spouse or Partner and a Beneficiary

Your spouse or partner is first in line to receive any payment from the Plan should you pass away. If you pass away without a spouse or partner, or if the pension partner survivor benefits have been waived, the beneficiary(ies) you have named can receive your death benefit.

Beneficiaries cannot, however, get lifetime pension payments. Those rights only apply to your pension partner. For more information on beneficiary death benefits, visit our Pension Options page.

When You Should Tell Us About Your Spouse or Partner

Telling us about your spouse or partner is very important when you are first joining PSPP. If you do not have a pension partner at that point, it is important to update us if this changes. Also, it is important to tell us if you divorce, separate or re-marry.

Who Qualifies as a Pension Partner

If You Are Married

If you are married, your spouse is automatically your pension partner, unless you have been living separate and apart for three or more years.

If You Are Not Married, but Living Together in a Spouse-Like or Common-Law Relationship

Someone you are living with in a spouse-like relationship, sometimes called a common-law relationship, is deemed your pension partner once you have been living together for three years in a row. This period can be shortened if you have a child, either by birth or adoption, from that relationship.

If you have any questions about your personal situation, you can contact us.

Relationship Breakdown

If you and your partner divorce or separate, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can provide you with the necessary paperwork to update your pension partner information.

After separating, your pension benefit may have to be divided between you and your spouse. This requires a matrimonial property order (MPO) to be filed with us which will provide the details as to when and how your PSPP benefit is to be divided, if at all. You should consult independent legal counsel about how to obtain an MPO.

If you provide us with a draft MPO, we will review it to make sure it meets the requirements under the Plan rules. This step can save you time and money if it needs to be changed. We cannot administer an MPO that does not comply with the Plan rules.

Please note that completing a Pre-Retirement Death Benefit Waiver does not prevent your pension partner from seeking a division of your pension.

Learn more about Relationship Breakdown.

Definition of a Pension Partner

A pension partner is a person who, at the relevant time, is:

  1. someone to whom you are married and from whom you have not been living separate and apart for three or more consecutive years;
  2. if no such person exists, someone with whom you have been living in a common-law type relationship:
    1. for a continuous period of no less than three years, or
    2. of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoption.

For the purposes of this definition, persons are living separate and apart

and the separation would probably have continued if that person had not become so incapable.

  1. if they are living apart and either of them has the intention to live separate and apart from the other,
  2. if, before the relevant time,
    1. they had been living separate and apart for any period, and
    2. that period was interrupted or terminated by reason only that either of them became incapable of continuing to live separate and apart or of forming or having the intention to continue to live separate and apart of that person’s own volition,