OSPC - FAQS - Overview of Manitoba Pension Laws

Starting a Pension

The main objective of The Pension Benefits Act (the act) is to protect employees' rights to the benefits that are promised under private pension plans.  The following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Manitoba's pension laws.  You should refer to the act for further information on Manitoba's pension laws.  To find out the details of your particular pension plan (the terms of your plan may be more generous than required by the act), you should contact the plan administrator.

NOTE: Descriptions of the various pension plan options and terms discussed in these answers can be found at the bottom of the page.

What is the normal retirement age?

All pension plans must state a normal retirement age. It cannot be later than the first day of the month following the month when full Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits are payable to you.

What is the earliest age I can retire?

The age for retirement is stated in your company pension plan. If the plan allows, you can receive early retirement benefits up to 10 years before the normal retirement age stated in the plan. However, if you take early retirement, your pension may be reduced, because you are likely to receive pension payments for a longer period of time.

Can I keep working and contributing to my company plan past the normal retirement age?

The act states that you must have the option of staying in the pension plan as long as you are working. If you continue to work you will continue to earn pension benefits. Your pension payments must start no later than the end of the calendar year in which you turn the age of 71.

What are the rules for providing information on my retirement?

Your pension plan administrator must provide you with a statement of your pension benefits within:

  • 60 days after you have provided the completed application that allows you to begin receiving pension benefits and
  • 60 days before your normal retirement date (stated in the pension plan) unless you chose early retirement

What is a life annuity?

A life annuity is a pension offered by a life insurance company. The insurer guarantees payment of a pension for your lifetime. Different survivor benefits and guarantees come with different kinds of annuities. The cost of an annuity is set by the insurer.

The payments under a life annuity are guaranteed, regardless of how the financial markets perform, or what interest rates are. When you buy a life annuity, the risk of fluctuations in investment markets and interest rates is transferred to the insurance company.

Must my life annuity have survivor benefits?

If you have a spouse or common-law partner when you retire, your life annuity must have survivor benefits. Survivor benefits give your surviving spouse or common-law partner a lifetime pension of at least 60 percent of the pension being paid to you.

When you have survivor benefits, the amount payable at retirement may be reduced, to ensure that continuing payments can be made throughout your life (and your spouse's or partner's life).

You may receive a pension that does not offer a survivor benefit, only if your spouse or common-law partner, after being given the necessary information, waives his or her right to the benefit by signing an approved form.

Can I change/revoke the waiver?

A spouse or common-law partner may change or revoke the waiver, at any time before the pension payments start, by sending a formal, written request to the pension plan administrator.

Can a spouse's or common-law partner's pension benefit be discontinued if we separate and then live together again?

No. The spouse's or common-law partner's pension will continue without reduction if you live together again.

What will my monthly income be?

If an amount is being transferred:

  • from a pension plan, which is a defined contribution benefit or
  • from a Locked-in Retirement Account

the amount of your monthly income will vary, depending on the amount transferred and the option you chose.

If an amount is from a pension plan which is a defined benefit plan, the pension will be determined according to the formula in the pension plan for determining the pension amount and the option you chose.

How does the type of pension I choose affect the amount of pension I get when I retire?

Usually, if the amount of monthly pension paid to your spouse or partner increases after your death, the lower the payment will be while you are living.

For example:

  • monthly pension paid while pensioner is living - $500
  • monthly pension payments paid for all 10 years after retirement, even if pensioner dies - $473
  • monthly pension paid at100 percent while pensioner is alive - $426
  • and, after pensioner dies, pension paid to spouse or partner at 60 percent - $256

Can my pension be reduced when I start receiving Old Age Security (OAS) payments or Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments?

Some plans offer an option called an integrated pension. If you choose this option at retirement, you will receive higher pension payments from the plan until you start receiving OAS and CPP payments. This helps you maintain a level income. Once you start receiving OAS and CPP payments, your pension will be reduced.

Can I transfer my funds to a Life Income Fund (LIF)?

If you are a member of a defined contribution pension plan, you are entitled to transfer your own contributions (if any) and the contributions your employer made on your behalf, with interest to a LIF.

If you are a member of a defined benefit pension plan, you may only transfer the pension benefits earned under the terms of the plan to a LIF if the plan allows it.

The Office of the Superintendent - Pension Commission has a list of financial institutions permitted to offer LIFs. Funds may only be transferred to a financial institution on this list.

How can I get my Life Income Fund funds?

LIF funds that are governed under the Manitoba regulations may be used at any age to provide retirement income, up to the maximum amount allowed by the LIF. The funds may not be withdrawn as a lump sum, cash payment, at any age.

The income must be at least the minimum amount stated in the federal Income Tax Act and the maximum amount stated in the provincial regulations under The Pension Benefits Act.

See Bulletin #2 for more information. For a copy of the bulletin or if you need more information, contact the Office of Superintendent - Pension Commission at (204) 945-2740.

What are phased retirement benefits?

These are benefits that are paid to you while you continue to contribute to your pension plan and continue to accrue additional benefits during the phased retirement period.

Does my employer have to offer phased retirement benefits?

No. Plans may provide phased retirement benefits, but are not required to do so.

When am I eligible for phased retirement benefits?

To be eligible for phased retirement benefits, you must be an active plan member/owner who is:

  • at least age 60 or
  • at least age 55 and eligible for an unreduced pension (the date at which you can receive a full pension under the plan if it has not been reduced because you took early retirement)

What type of benefits are payable during a phased retirement?

You may receive up to 60 percent of your pension while continuing to work, part-time or full-time. While you are working, you will continue to contribute to the pension plan and you will continue to accrue additional benefits based on your extended employment.

For example:

Ernie just celebrated his 60th birthday. He would like to cut back on his hours a bit, but he's not sure if he wants take a cut in income quite yet. Ernie can work reduced hours, receive partial pension benefits to top up his income, and continue to earn additional pension benefits for when he's ready for full time retirement.

For information on pension benefits and options under your pension plan, contact your plan administrator.

If you have more questions about the act or regulations, contact the Office of Superintendent - Pension Commission at (204) 945-2740 in Winnipeg; 1-800-282-8069, extension 2740 toll free; or go to www.gov.mb.ca/pension.


Joint pension or survivor pension pays a pension to the retiree for his/her life and, after death, to the spouse or partner for his/her life.

Life Income Fund is an investment that pays an adjustable amount of retirement income to the LIF owner, based on prescribed annuity factors. It must be at least the minimum amount stated in the federal Income Tax Act and the maximum amount stated in the provincial regulations under the Manitoba act.

Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) is an investment that allows your money (pension benefits) to continue to grow and accumulate interest while being held (or locked in) in the fund until you retire. LIRAs replace locked-in, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), although they operate in the same way. A LIRA is a RRSP that is governed by the provincial act and holds locked-in pension funds until they are used for retirement.

Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) is a personal retirement income fund that is governed by the federal Income Tax Act (Canada).

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a personal retirement savings plan governed by the federal Income Tax Act (Canada).

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