Your entitlement from the NHRIPP is calculated once you have a break in service. How do you have a break in service? There are two ways:
1. by stopping all work with any contributing employer for a period of eight months; or,
2. if your employer leaves the Plan and you don’t find a job with another contributing employer within eight
Under #1, the stoppage of work does not include the following periods if you remain on the employer’s payroll:
- sick leave;
- maternity/parental leave;
- workers’ compensation leave (WSIB);
- an approved leave of absence; or
- a layoff subject to recall for up to 24 months under your collective agreement.
Special rules may apply to pension contribution grievances which are not resolved within eight months.
To keep your pension growing, you can make “self-payments” if you:
- stop working for a contributing employer, and
- are employed by another contributing employer before having a break in service, or
- are on an approved leave of absence (for example maternity, parental, or workers’ compensation leave).
To arrange self-payments, please contact InBenefits.
If you have a break in service when you are 55 or older, your benefits must remain in the Plan until you are ready to start your pension.
If you are under age 55 and have a break in service, you can:
1. keep your benefits in the Plan until you are ready to start your pension; or
2. transfer your reduced pension benefits out of the Plan. For such a transfer your benefits will be reduced to their solvency-funded level.
If you work in a province other than Ontario different rules may apply. Please contact InBenefits for more information.
The monetary value of your pension is portable and may be transferred to one of the following:
1. a special type of RRSP called a locked-in retirement account (LIRA), which must eventually be used to provide a retirement income; or
2. an insurance company to buy an annuity that will provide a lifetime income when you retire; or
3. your new employer’s registered pension plan if that plan allows such
All of these transfers are tax free.
If you transfer your benefits out of the Plan, no pension will be paid to you when you retire unless you rejoin the Plan and accrue new benefits.
If you die before your pension begins to be paid, your spouse, beneficiary or estate will receive a death benefit from the Plan. The death benefit is equal to the value of your pension benefits at your date of death.
If you have a spouse, he or she can:
- receive the death benefit as an immediate or deferred lifetime pension;
- transfer the death benefit to an RRSP or another registered pension plan if that plan permits;
- transfer the death benefits to a life insurance company to buy an annuity; or
- receive the death benefit as a taxable one-time cash payment
Your spouse can waive entitlement to the pre-retirement death benefit by providing InBenefits with a completed and signed waiver before your death. Contact InBenefits for more information.
If you don’t have a spouse, or your spouse waived entitlement to a death benefit from the Plan, the death benefit will be paid as a taxable lump sum to your beneficiary, or to your estate, if you have not named a beneficiary.
Rules for pre-retirement death benefits may differ if you work in a province other than Ontario.
If you die after your pension begins to be paid, your spouse, beneficiary or estate may receive a death benefit from the Plan, depending upon the pension payment option you choose at retirement.
If you don’t name a beneficiary, or your beneficiary(ies) dies before you do, any death benefit from the NHRIPP will be paid to your estate – and may be subject to probate fees, estate taxes and claims by your creditors.
If you and your spouse are living separate and apart from each other and you die before starting your pension, your spouse may not qualify as your spouse under Ontario pension law, even if you are still legally married. In such circumstances your spouse will not receive any death benefit from the Plan unless he or she has been named as your beneficiary. In such circumstances no waiver is required. Simply complete a Designation of Beneficiary form naming your new beneficiary(ies) and provide it to InBenefits.
If you decide to name a minor child as a beneficiary, there are some important steps you need to take.
1. If you have a spouse, he or she must sign a waiver giving up entitlement to the Plan’s death benefit in the case of a pre-retirement death benefit.
2. You should appoint a trustee or guardian to look after the minor’s benefit until he or she is 18 (a lawyer can help you choose and appoint this person).
If you don’t appoint a trustee, the Plan can pay the benefit to guardian of property who has been appointed by the court. If the court does not appoint such a guardian, current Ontario law requires any amount of $10,000 or more must be paid to the Accountant of the Superior Court who will hold the money until the minor reaches age 18. At that point, the beneficiary can withdraw the funds by filing an affidavit proving his or her age and paying the applicable fee.
If you are receiving disability benefits from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board due to a work-related injury, or similar work-related-injury benefits from an insurance company retained by your employer, your employer will not have to make contributions to the NHRIPP on your behalf.
Instead, the Plan will pay your employer’s contributions for up to 12 months. These contributions will be based on your average weekly pay in the last four weeks you worked and the contribution rate then in effect.
Since you are not working during this absence, your employer is not deducting NHRIPP contributions from your pay. However, you can choose to make self-payments of your employee contributions to the NHRIPP to keep your pension growing during this absence. Please contact InBenefits for more information.
Your pension is a family asset. This means that any pension benefits you accrue while you and your spouse are married or living as a common law couple may have to be divided in accordance with your separation agreement.
Even if you’re not legally married, you still have to consider the value of your pension in any division of family assets. However, if your family assets can be equalized with assets other than your pension, your pension does not need to be divided.
If you pension is divided, the amount your former spouse receives from the Plan will depend on your separation agreement, or court order. You should send a certified copy of the agreement or court order to InBenefits which will check to make sure that it complies with the law and the terms of the Plan.
Keep in mind that it is not the contributions that are split, but the pension you accrued from those contributions during your spousal relationship.
- The rules around the separation/divorce process and how it relates to your pension benefits are complex. We strongly recommend that you consult a family lawyer.
- Pension splitting rules vary by province. We explain the Ontario rules here. If you live outside of Ontario, please contact InBenefits for more information.
- The rules for splitting pensions in Ontario depend on the date of your court order or separation agreement.
If you and your former spouse have a court order or separation agreement dated before January 1, 2012, which deals with your pension, your former spouse can’t begin receiving his or her share of your pension until you leave the Plan, retire, turn 65, or die – whichever comes first. Contact InBenefits for more information.
If you and your former spouse have a court order or separation agreement dated January 1, 2012 or later, which deals with your pension, your former spouse must receive an immediate payment – but not before the value of your pension is calculated.
To calculate the value of your pension, you need to use special forms. These forms can be found at www.fsrao.ca. Click on For Industry > Pension Sector > Pensions Forms > Family Law to download the instructions and complete an Application for Family Law Value (FSCO Family Law Form 1). If you are a retired member, you’ll need to complete FSCO Family Law Form 6 (instead of Form 1).
There is a fee to obtain the value of your pension for pension splitting purposes. A cheque in the amount of $678 ($600 + HST) must be made payable to the Nursing Homes and Related Industries Pension Plan and mailed to InBenefits. A statement showing the current value of your pension will be provided within 60 days.
Once an agreement about your family assets – including your pension – has been reached, your former spouse may apply for a share of the pension. Your former spouse will need to provide a certified copy of the court order, family arbitration award or domestic contract and complete the required form.
Your former spouse will receive a one-time payment that must be transferred to another locked-in plan or account. If you are already receiving your pension, your former spouse will receive a payment each month equal to their share of your monthly pension. Either way, your pension will be adjusted to account for your former spouse’s share of the pension.
- If your spousal status changes (through divorce or separation), you must update InBenefits as soon as possible. We need to have the correct information on file, so we can pay death benefits to the right person if you pass away.
- If you and your spouse are living separate and apart from each other and you die before starting your pension, your spouse may not qualify as your spouse under Ontario pension law, even if you are still legally married and will not receive any death benefit from the Plan unless your spouse has been named as your
Pension regulators are very strict when it comes to unlocking pension benefits. But, if you’re in a serious financial crunch, you may be eligible for a financial hardship withdrawal.
To unlock your funds, you must be under age 55, terminate your employment, end your membership in the Plan and transfer your reduced pension benefits to a locked-in account (LIRA, LIF or LRIF) at a financial institution. You must then apply to the financial institution that holds your locked-in account to access these funds.
To qualify for a financial hardship withdrawal from a locked-in account, at least one of the following must apply:
1. your expected annual income is modest (less than $41,067 in 2021);
2. you are at risk of eviction from your home due to default on your mortgage;
3. you need to pay for the first and last month’s rent for a new residence; or,
4. you need to pay medical expenses for you, your spouse or any dependents, including residential renovations to accommodate a wheelchair or other needs related to a disability or illness (affecting you, your spouse, or any dependents).
If you are over age 55, this option is not available to you.
Different rules apply for unlocking your pension if you accrued benefits while working outside of Ontario. Please contact InBenefits for more information.
It’s probably not something you want to think about, but it’s important to know that if you have less than two years to live, you can withdraw your pension benefits from the NHRIPP as a taxable lump sum payment.
To apply, you must complete a Shortened-life Expectancy form available from InBenefits. Your doctor must complete a section of the form confirming that you have less than two years to live.
Please contact InBenefits for more information.
Keep in mind that after withdrawing your pension benefits, there will be no further benefits payable from the NHRIPP to you, your spouse, beneficiaries or estate.
Because your spouse has certain rights under the Plan, it is very important that you keep InBenefits informed of any changes in your marital status.
If you have a new spouse (by marriage or common-law) after your pension begins to be paid, your new spouse will not receive any pension benefits after your death, unless your new spouse has been named the beneficiary of any payments which were not paid to you because you died before receiving your minimum number of pension payments.
To update your spousal information, fill out a Designation of Beneficiary form and submit it to InBenefits.
If you are on maternity or parental leave from your employer, you will not have a break in service. To keep your pension growing during such leaves, you can choose to make self-payments.
In Ontario, it’s a good idea to make self-payments while you are on a maternity or parental leave. That’s because, under Ontario pension law, your employer’s obligation to make contributions on your behalf is triggered by your self-payments. If you do not contribute during your leave your employer does not have to make contributions on your behalf.
Maternity/paternity leaves are handled directly by your employer. Speak to your employer about making self-payments during your leave. Your employer will calculate the required contributions and advise you of the amounts. You will have to provide your employer with cheques payable to it for your contributions and your employer will then remit its contributions and yours to InBenefits.
If you work in a province outside of Ontario, please contact InBenefits for details.
It is very important that you keep InBenefits advised of any changes in your home or email address. We use these addresses to communicate with you, so they need to be kept up to date.
You can complete a Change of Information form to advise us of your new home or email address or, you can call InBenefits.
If you move to another country, you may be able to unlock your pension benefits if you have been a non-resident of Canada for at least 24 months and you are under age 55. Please refer to FSCO Form 5 (available at www.fsrao.ca) to see if you qualify. For more information, please contact InBenefits.