UBC Staff Pension Plan FAQs

We have grouped the following FAQs under various headings to assist your search:


Joining the UBC Staff Pension Plan

Am I eligible to join the UBC Staff Pension Plan (SPP)?

Eligibility has specific criteria – check here for full details.

Is it a good deal?

Saving for retirement is always a good goal, and being part of a pension plan helps you achieve that goal.

Do I have to join?

Yes – once you are eligible, you must join after you have completed three years of employment.


Contributions

Do I contribute?

Yes – both you and the University contribute a percentage of your salary to the Plan. For full details of the formula, please see Overview.

May I contribute more than my required contributions to the Plan?

No – you may not contribute additional funds in excess of your required contributions.

May I contribute to the Pension Plan and an RRSP at the same time?

Yes – however, the amount you may contribute to your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is limited by the benefit (Pension Adjustment) you earn in the Staff Pension Plan.


Beneficiaries

Who is my beneficiary?

Your spouse, if you have a spouse. If you do not have a spouse, you may name a living individual, a charitable entity, your estate, or a combination as Beneficiary. If no designation is made, your estate will be named as your Beneficiary.


Leaves During Employment at UBC

What if I go on a personal or medical leave of absence or laid-off?

If you begin a leave, whether personal, medical or while on the Income Replacement Plan (IRP)/Disability Benefit Plan (DBP), or a layoff, on or after July 1, 2009, you are responsible for paying both your portion of the contributions and the University’s contributions for each month (or portion) you are on the leave/layoff. In this way, you can maintain your pension while on unpaid leave for a maximum of 2 years. You will receive an invoice from the Leave of Absence team in UBC Financial Services.

This may or may not be to your advantage. We urge you to contact us for more information if you are planning a leave, to discuss your options and help ensure you take the right course of action.

If your IRP/DBP leave began before July 1, 2009, you do not need to contribute while on IRP/DBP.

What if I go on maternity/parental leave of absence?

To maintain your pension benefits you will be responsible for making your required contributions for each month (or portion) you are on your leave. You will receive an invoice for your benefits. If you do not receive an invoice, please contact the Leave of Absence team in UBC Financial Services.

What happens when I return from a leave of absence or lay-off?

If you chose to suspend your pension during a leave of absence or lay-off, Payroll will reinstate your benefits automatically and deductions will resume as normal.

It is imperative that you check your pay stub to ensure your required pension contributions have been deducted. If the contributions have not been deducted, please contact our office immediately.


Buy-Back Years of Service

May I “Buy Back” past service?

Eligible members may buy back pre-July 1, 2009 service only. During this time, you may have been eligible to join the Plan, but did not join, or during which you were a member, but did not contribute to the Plan (e.g. an unpaid leave of absence). If you choose to buy-back past service you must choose to receive your retirement benefit as a pension from the plan. You may not choose a lump sum payment or a combination of pension and lump sum payment.

The cost of this option can be considerable – please refer to the Buying Back Past Service Information Sheet or contact us for further details.


Leaving UBC – Prior to Retirement (Before Age 55)

I’m leaving the University today. What happens now?

The UBC Pension Administration Office will receive a copy of your severance notice. Within 4 to 6 weeks after the end of the month that you leave, the office will mail you an information package. This package will contain the calculation of your pension benefits and all the necessary documents to be completed.

Before leaving UBC, ensure that UBC Financial Services and the UBC Pension Administration Office are aware of any changes to your address so that you can receive your final pay, T4 and information package.

What do I receive if I leave the University?

You will be eligible to receive a pension when you retire or a termination benefit equal to a minimum of 1.5 times your required contributions.

What does a commuted value mean?

The definition is one of our Important Terms.

What does locked-in mean?

The definition is one of our Important Terms.

How soon can I have my money?

If you choose a lump sum payment from the Plan, the timing of the refund depends on when you submit your signed documentation to our office.

If we receive your signed paperwork by the 15th of the month, your payment will be issued on the last working day of the month; if your documentation is received after the 15th of the month, it will be processed on the last working day of the following month.

Please note that the lump sum option is not available once you turn age 55, unless you have a Small Pension at the time of retirement.


Retiring from UBC

When can I retire?

The earliest you can retire is age 55; however, if you retire before age 65, your pension may be reduced due to early retirement, unless you are eligible for Special Early Retirement. Please refer to the Retirement Ages & Early Retirement Considerations Information Sheet for further information.

What happens to my pension if I decide to work past age 65?

You have two options with regards to your pension if you decide to work past age 65:

  1. You may continue making contributions and accrue your pension until the age of 71, or retirement, at which point you must elect to start your pension benefit.
  2. You may elect to stop making contributions and begin your pension at age 65 or the first of a later month.

If you choose Option 2, there will be changes to your medical, dental, and extended health benefits. Please see the UBC Human Resources – Working Past Age 65 page regarding these changes.

How much pension will I receive?

Your pension benefit is based on your salary and service. It can only be determined accurately at the time of your retirement based on your actual earnings and how long you were a member of the Plan. The amount you receive also depends on the options you choose at retirement.

How soon can I have my money?

It all depends on when the UBC Pension Administration Office receives all of your paperwork for the option you elected. If you chose to receive a monthly pension benefit from the Plan, your first pension payment will be the month following your retirement date and will include a retroactive payment for the first month of your retirement. This is providing we have received your signed paperwork by the monthly processing deadline which is the 15th of each month. For example, given a September 1 retirement, the first pension payment will be made on October 1 and will include the September payment.

Members age 55 and over, whose Plan benefit is considered a Small Pension at the time of their retirement, will be eligible for the lump sum option. This is in accordance with legislation by the B.C. Pension Benefits Standards Act. If you are eligible for a lump sum payment, and your paperwork is received by the 15th of the month, your payment will be issued on the last working day of the month. If your documentation is received after the monthly deadline, it will be processed on the last working day of the following month.

What does locked-in mean?

The definition is one of our Important Terms.

Are my pension benefits adjusted for inflation?

Yes, your pension benefits are adjusted for inflation each January 1st after you retire. Effective January 1, 2012, the inflation adjustment (COLA) for SPP pensioners is 50% of inflation (Consumer Price Index – CPI) for the next three years, or until the next Actuarial Valuation. For example, if the change in the CPI from October 2010 to October 2011 was 2.8%, SPP pensioners would receive an inflation adjustment of 1.4%. The first adjustment following your retirement date will be pro-rated based on the number of months since your retirement. Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) are subject to the Plan’s ability to pay.


myPension

What is myPension?

myPension is a customized tool for active members of the Plan to access their personal pension information, review their beneficiary(s) and have the ability to calculate pension estimates for retirement planning.

How can I access myPension?

Access this tool by logging on to www.msp.ubc.ca using your Campus-Wide Login (CWL) ID. If you do not have a CWL, please visit www.cwl.ubc.ca to sign up.

Who has access to this service?

At this time only actively employed members of the Plan have access to myPension. Deferred members do not have access at this time.

I just joined the Plan, when will I have access to myPension?

myPension is typically available the month AFTER your first contributions are made to the Plan. For example, if your first contribution is deducted in the April 15 pay period, access to your myPension records would be available on the 5th business day of May.

Where can I find more information regarding using myPension?

More information can be found on the About myPension at UBC resource page.


Other

May I receive a pension from the Staff Pension Plan and work at the same time?

Yes – if you retire and receive a pension from the Staff Pension Plan and are subsequently rehired, you will continue to receive your pension. You will not be eligible to rejoin the Plan as an active contributing member.

Contact us for more information.

What happens if I die before retirement?

If you die while you are still working at UBC, your spouse or beneficiary(s) receive the value of your earned pension. Your spouse may choose to receive the death benefit in the form of a:

  • deferred pension from the Plan starting as early as when they are 55, or
  • lump sum transfer from the Plan, if they are under the age of 55. Most or all of this amount may be required to be transferred to a Locked-in Arrangement.

Your beneficiary(s) must receive this death benefit as a taxable cash benefit.

How can I get a pension estimate?

There are two ways of getting pension estimates. The first is to sign on to myPension and produce your own estimates, with your own personal information and receive the estimates instantaneously. The second way is to phone the office and request an estimate, noting that the turnaround time is 4-6 weeks.

Is my pension guaranteed?

Your pension will be paid as long as there are sufficient funds in the Plan to pay full benefits. The Plan’s basic benefit is well funded at this time; however, in the event that there are insufficient funds in the Plan to pay full benefits, then benefits will be reduced starting with indexing.