Canada Pension Plan benefits available on death of a contributor
25 November 2019 2 min read
Although we generally associate the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) with income in retirement, there are several benefits that may be available for the family of a deceased contributor, including:
- lump sum death benefit;
- monthly survivor’s pension for a surviving spouse or common-law partner; and
- monthly children’s benefit for dependent children of a deceased contributor.
To be eligible to receive these benefits, the deceased must have made CPP contributions for either:
- 1/3 of the calendar years in their contributory period, but not less than 3 years; or
- 10 years.
What is a CPP lump sum death benefit?
The lump sum death benefit amount of $2,500 is generally paid to the estate of the contributor when they have passed away. If no estate exists or the executor has not applied for the death benefit, the following individuals may apply to receive the payment (in order of priority):
- the person (or institution) that incurred the costs for the funeral of the deceased;
- the surviving spouse or common-law partner of the deceased; or
- the next-of-kin of the deceased.
How to receive the CPP survivor’s pension
The CPP survivor’s pension is paid to the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased. The survivor must apply to Service Canada in order to receive the survivor’s pension and should do so as soon as possible after the contributor’s death. Service Canada will determine the amount of a CPP survivor’s pension based on:
- how much and for how long the contributor paid into CPP;
- the age of the spouse or common-law partner when the contributor dies; and
- whether the survivor is receiving a CPP retirement or disability pension.
If you are receiving a CPP survivor’s pension, an adjustment to the monthly amount you receive will occur at age 65 and at the time you elect to receive your CPP retirement pension. To avoid surprises, it is recommended that you contact Service Canada (at 1-800-277-9914) to receive estimates of your revised monthly CPP survivor’s pension at 65 and your combined monthly CPP survivor’s and retirement pension at the age you are considering taking your CPP retirement pension.
A common-law spouse’s claim to a CPP survivor's pension would take precedence over the claim of a separated legal spouse. To be considered common-law, the couple must have lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.
You will not lose your survivor’s pension if you remarry or enter into a common-law relationship. However, if you survive more than one spouse or common-law partner, you can only receive one CPP survivor’s pension. You will be paid whichever pension is the largest.
Canada Pension Plan children’s benefit
The child of a deceased CPP contributor, or a guardian on his or her behalf, may also be eligible to receive a monthly benefit. Dependent children under 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and attending school full-time are eligible. The monthly amount of the children’s benefit is $257.58 for 2021. In the unfortunate situation of each parent being either disabled or deceased, a qualifying child could receive two benefits.