Introduction to retirement

Learn about the factors affecting the amount of your lifetime monthly pension from the plan.

There are many things to consider when planning your retirement, from when to retire to which pension option is best for you and your family.

Learning about your options will help you make these important decisions. Talking with an independent financial adviser can also help you determine your financial needs in retirement and identify other potential sources of retirement income. These can include your own personal savings, as well as Canada Pension Plan and old age security benefits.

When you can start your pension

For most members of BC's College Pension Plan, the normal retirement age is 65 and the earliest retirement age is 55.

Your pension may be reduced if you retire before the plan's normal retirement age and do not meet the criteria for an unreduced pension.

If you are working for another employer in the same plan you must terminate all employment under the College Pension Plan in order to start receiving your pension.

As required by the Income Tax Act, you must begin to receive your pension no later than December 1 of the year in which you turn 71, even if you are still working.

A lifetime monthly pension

You will receive a lifetime monthly pension when you retire. This is the amount of money the plan pays you every month for the rest of your life.

The amount of your monthly pension payment is based on a formula that includes your years of pensionable service and the average of your five highest years of salary. The amount is also determined by the pension option you choose at retirement and your age at retirement.

Choosing a pension option

One of the most important decisions you will make when applying for your pension is choosing your pension option. Your choice will determine the amount paid to you each month and to your spouse or beneficiaries after your death.

All pension options include a guarantee period. The longer the guarantee period, the more the amount of your monthly pension payments will be reduced (to reflect the likelihood that your pension will be paid for a longer period).

Here are two examples illustrating different kinds of options:

  • Single life guaranteed 15-year option: if you die within the 15-year guarantee period, your spouse or beneficiary will receive a lump-sum payment or pension for the remainder of the 15-year guarantee period
  • Joint life option: if you die before your spouse, your spouse will receive a pension for their lifetime.

No matter which pension option you choose, you will receive a monthly pension payment for the rest of your life.

What happens after you die

Depending on the pension option you choose at retirement, after your death, the plan may continue to pay:

  • A pension to your spouse (if you have one) for their lifetime
  • Pension benefits to another beneficiary(ies)
  • A lump-sum payment to your estate, a named beneficiary(ies) or an organization named as your beneficiary