Guide for plan members

College Pension Plan is committed to helping you make the most of your pension. This guide is a provincial requirement. Please use the links at right to explore the topics most relevant to you.


Cost-of-living adjustments


Your monthly pension payment may increase as a result of an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). This adjustment may be added to your pension to help it keep pace with increases in the cost of living over time.

Once a COLA is granted, it becomes part of your lifetime pension. The COLA is also applied to the bridge benefit and the temporary annuity portion of your pension, if applicable.

There is no guarantee that a COLA will be granted every year.

How the board decides if COLA will be applied

In deciding whether to apply a COLA cap each year, the College Pension Board of Trustees reviews:

  • Changes in the Canadian consumer price index (CPI) over a 12-month period from November to October
  • The COLA cap
  • The funds available in the inflation adjustment account of BC's College Pension Plan (both active members and employers contribute to this account)

If the board grants a COLA, it will take effect in January.

The COLA cap

The COLA cap is the maximum amount that can be applied in any given year. The COLA cap is set by the College Pension Board of Trustees following each actuarial analysis of the inflation adjustment account. Having a cap ensures that COLAs, which are not guaranteed, remain sustainable for the long term.

For 2021 and 2022, the COLA cap has been suspended. That means if a COLA is granted, the amount may be equal to the average increase in the CPI. However, the board must still consider the funds available in the inflation adjustment account when setting the COLA amount.

At any time, the board may choose to reintroduce the cap on the maximum COLA to protect its sustainability.

Learn how COLA affects your pension

See the most recent winter issue of Pension Life to find out if a COLA will be applied and, if so, the percentage. You can check your January pension statement to find out how the COLA may increase your monthly pension payment for the coming year.

Cost-of-living adjustment history

Year Increase (%)
2021 1.0
2020 1.9
2019 2.07
2018 1.5
2017 1.4
2016 1.2
2015 1.8
2014 0.9
2013 1.8
2012 1.83
2011 1.7
2010 0.0
2009 3.4
2008 2.5
2007 0.7
2006 3.4
2005 1.8
2004 2.2
2003 2.3
2002 2.6

Retirement health coverage and you


Overview

When you retire, any extended health care or dental coverage you were receiving through your employer will stop. However, you can apply for extended health care and dental coverage when you apply for your pension.

This optional coverage is provided through the College Pension Plan's insurance carrier, Green Shield Canada, and gives you access to competitive group rates. As a result, if you choose to apply for retirement health coverage through the plan, you may pay lower rates than if you purchased these benefits on your own.

Your spouse and/or eligible dependants can also be covered under the extended health care and dental plans.

If you do not enrol when you apply for your pension, you can only enrol later on if you've had continuous coverage in a different extended health care and/or dental plan since your retirement date.

Extended health care

This supplemental plan extends your medical coverage beyond that provided by the Medical Services Plan of BC and other provincial health plans. It covers part of the cost of prescription drugs, vision care, hearing aids, medical aids and supplies, as well as some services.

There are monthly premiums, yearly deductibles and lifetime limits associated with the extended health care plan.

Dental care

The dental plan covers part of the costs associated with preventive and restorative dental services. There are two dental plans to choose from, with different monthly premiums, yearly deductibles and eligible services for each.

How premiums are paid

You must pay monthly premiums to receive extended health care and dental coverage. Premiums are deducted from your pension payment. If your pension is not large enough to cover the premiums, you can arrange to pay Green Shield Canada directly through pre-authorized debit.

These benefits are not guaranteed

The extended health care and dental coverage offered by the College Pension Plan is not guaranteed – your coverage, premiums and deductibles may increase, decrease or be eliminated.


Returning to work after retirement


You may decide to return to work after you have retired and are receiving a pension from BC's College Pension Plan. If this is the case, you will continue to receive your pension.

If you start working for an employer participating in the plan, let your employer know you are a retired plan member. This will ensure your employer does not re-enrol you in the plan and deduct pension contributions from your pay.
 

If your new employer participates in a different pension plan, you may be eligible to contribute to that plan. Talk to your new employer for details.


Death and your pension


The type and amount of any death benefit depends on:

  • Your age when you die
  • Whom you named as beneficiaries
  • Whether you die before or after starting your pension

Shortened life expectancy

If you are an active member of the plan and have a shortened life expectancy, you may be able to access your pension early. Contact the plan for more information.

If you die after you start receiving your pension

The pension option you chose when you retired determines what happens next. The type and amount of a death benefit depends on whether you:

  • Chose a single-life or joint-life pension option
  • Chose a guarantee period
  • Died before or after a guarantee period

Examples:

  • If you chose a single life pension with a guarantee period, and you die before that period expires, your monthly pension will continue to be paid to your beneficiaries until the end of the guarantee period. Alternatively, your beneficiaries may choose to receive a lump-sum payment.
  • If you chose a joint life pension with a guarantee period, and you die before the guarantee period expires, your full monthly pension will be paid to your spouse until the end of the guarantee period, after which the joint life percentage you selected will be paid to your spouse for their lifetime.

If your beneficiary is an organization, any remaining monthly pension payments will be paid to the organization as a lump sum.

Your spouse and dependent children may be eligible for extended health care and dental coverage through the plan after your death. Certain conditions apply, and coverage is not guaranteed.

If you die before you start receiving your pension

If you die before you retire, your beneficiaries will be paid a death benefit.

Your spouse is automatically your beneficiary unless they waived their right to a pre-retirement death benefit. If your spouse is your beneficiary, their options depend on your age when you die:

  • If you die before your earliest retirement age of 55, your spouse may choose:
    • an immediate monthly pension, payable for their lifetime
    • a lump-sum payment equal to the value of your contributions with interest, or the lump-sum commuted value of your pension, whichever is greater
      The commuted value of your pension is the amount of money the pension plan would need to put aside today, at current interest rates, to pay for your future pension at retirement.
  • If you die after age 55, your spouse is only eligible to receive an immediate monthly pension, payable for their lifetime

If you do not have a spouse or your spouse has waived their right to a pre-retirement death benefit, your beneficiaries will receive a lump-sum death benefit equal to the greater of:

  • Your contributions with interest
  • The lump-sum commuted value of your pension
    The commuted value of your pension is the amount of money the pension plan would need to put aside today, at current interest rates, to pay for your future pension at retirement.

If you do not have a spouse and have not named a beneficiary through the plan or in your will, the benefit is paid to your estate.

When paying death benefits to a former spouse, we follow the terms in your signed separation agreement or registered court order.


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