Frequently Asked Questions

I'm New to the Plan

1.
What happens now?

SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), will mail you a welcome package.

This package includes:

  • A member handbook;
  • Forms to fill out; and
  • A self-addressed, postage paid return envelope to return the completed forms and survey.

Further Information:
SFPP At-a-Glance

2.
Why do I need to complete a Designation of Beneficiary form?

If you have a pension partner when you die, your pension partner is automatically your beneficiary. A pension partner is the sole beneficiary of your pension death benefit. A common-law partner will be considered a pension partner for pension purposes if they meet the legislated definition of a pension partner.

Regardless of your marital status you should designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries. That way, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), SFPP?s pension administrator, knows to whom the benefit is to be paid if you have no pension partner, your pension partner predeceases you, or if your pension partner has waived the right to a benefit. If you have no pension partner and you haven?t designated a beneficiary your benefit will be paid to your estate.

You can designate one or more beneficiaries or even a charitable organization. You may name anyone as a beneficiary by providing APS a completed Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form found online at www.sfpp.ca. In addition, mypensionplan is a secure website for active and deferred members of SFPP which allows you to add or update your beneficiary information. Alternatively, you can also use a Will as long as it specifically refers to your pension plan by name.

Further Information:
Designation of Beneficiary(ies) Form (SF2)
Multiple Beneficiaries Form (SF2L)
SFPP At-a-Glance
Death Before Retirement

3.
How much do I contribute?
This pension plan is a valuable part of your overall retirement savings. Your eventual lifetime pension benefit is based on years of service and salary, not the state of the markets. Although the financial status of the Plan can impact contribution rates, it does not affect your pension benefit.

Members, employers and the Government of Alberta make contributions to the Plan. Your contributions are based on a percentage of your pensionable salary up to the salary cap and are made through payroll deduction. The salary cap is determined each year based on federal income tax legislation that limits the amount of benefit that can be paid from a registered pension plan, such as the Special Forces Pension Plan (SFPP).

See Contribution Rates

Pension legislation requires that an actuarial valuation to determine the Plan's contribution rates must be done every three years. Contribution rates are adjusted periodically based on the recommendations of the Plan's independent actuary to ensure sufficient assets are available to pay all benefits promised under SFPP both today and in the future.

The last contribution rate increase occurred January 1, 2010.

Further information:
Member Handbook - How Much Do You Contribute?

4.
Why do I have to contribute? Can I opt out of the Plan?

Plan members and employers must make contributions to the pension plan.

All eligible members must participate in SFPP, subject to a number of specific exclusions. These exclusions include but are not limited to employees who:

  • are not police officers;
  • are employed on a part-time and/or temporary basis (unless as part of a job-sharing arrangement approved by the employer);
  • would be participating in the Plan prior to 15 years of age or after the end of the year in which they reach age 71;
  • receive a monthly pension from the Plan based on their previous participation in the Plan.

Further information:
Member Handbook - Your Membership

5.
I was in a pension plan before. How could that affect my pension?

If you have re-joined SFPP with previous benefit entitlements in the plan, your existing pensionable service will automatically be connected to your new pensionable service.

Members of SFPP with pension contributions in a different pension plan may be eligible to transfer those entitlements to SFPP through transfer agreement.  SFPP has transfer agreements with the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP), the Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan and the Regina Police Pension Plan.

Each pension plan has its own benefit formula and contribution rates. If you transfer your pensionable service from your former pension plan into SFPP, the value of the benefit attached to that transferred-in service will be calculated according to the SFPP benefit provisions.

For more information about transferring your pension entitlements into SFPP from one of the above-listed plans, please see the SFPP information sheet, SFPP Transfer Agreements.

If you have a service with another pension plan that is not listed above, please see the SFPP information sheet Can't Transfer? Buy Prior Service for more information on buying all or a part of that service as prior service under SFPP.

If you have any questions, please contact SFPP.

  • Local Authorities Pension Plan

In order to be eligible to transfer your benefit entitlements from LAPP into SFPP you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have ceased participating in LAPP on or after January 1, 1994 and have left your benefit entitlements in the plan;
  • You are not entitled to an unreduced LAPP pension as of the date you are applying to transfer; and
  • You are currently participating in SFPP.

If you meet the eligibility criteria above, you can request a transfer package by submitting an Application to Transfer Pension Entitlements between SFPP and LAPP. Please note that your transfer application must be received by APS while you are an active participant in SFPP for it to be valid.

  • Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan
  • Regina Police Pension Plan

In order to be eligible to transfer your benefit entitlements from the Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan or the Regina Police Pension Plan into SFPP you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have ceased participating in your former pension plan on or after January 1, 1994 and have left your benefit entitlements in that plan; and
  • You are currently participating in SFPP.

If you meet the eligibility criteria above, you can request a transfer package by submitting an Application to Transfer Pension Entitlements into SFPP. Please note that your transfer application must be received by APS while you are an active participant in SFPP for it to be valid.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - Joining the Pension Plan: Transferring Between Pension Plans

6.
What is the benefit of having a pension?
SFPP is an important part of your preparation for a secure retirement income. The value of your pension plan is one of your most important financial assets, for the following reasons:

  • The pension is paid for your lifetime.
  • SFPP assures you a specified income regardless of market conditions or how long you live.
  • On the portion of your pension based on service before 1992, you get an annual cost-of-living (COLA) increase of 60 per cent of the increase in Alberta's Consumer Price Index (ACPI). For service after 1991, the SFP Board is responsible for setting COLA according to the funds available in the indexing fund. The indexing fund was established to finance COLA on post-1991 service. Further information about COLA.
Several factors affect the pension you will receive at retirement, including:
  • your pensionable salary,
  • your years of pensionable service,
  • whether or not you purchase any prior service or leaves of absence, and
  • your pension partner status.
If you leave the Plan before retirement, there are a number of options available to you.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - What is Your Benefit?
How is Your Pension Calculated?
Get a pension estimate using mypensionplan

7.
Tell me about the Plan.

SFPP was established in 1979 for police officers, police chiefs and deputy chiefs employed by local authorities in Alberta.

SFPP is a defined benefit plan, which means you will receive a pension based on your pensionable salary and years of pensionable service. This enables you to plan for your retirement because you can estimate your future pension income. The Plan is financed by employee and employer contributions, investment earnings and Government of Alberta contributions.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - Welcome!
About SFPP
SFPP At-a-Glance
Member Services Centre

8.
Are my pension contributions tax deductible?

Yes, your pension contributions are tax deductible. As a member of a defined benefit plan, your taxable income is reduced by the amount of allowable pension contributions you make. Your employer will report your tax deductible pension contributions on your T4.

For more information on how your pension might affect your RRSPs, see the following:
Member Handbook - How Much Do You Contribute?

Further information:
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

9.
What happens when I have five or more years of service?
You become vested when you have five years of pensionable service. Vesting means that you are eligible to receive a pension at retirement as early as age 55. In addition, you can retire after 25 years of pensionable service even if you are younger than age 55.

Leaving the Plan

If you decide to leave the Plan, see the following:
Member Handbook - Leaving the Plan Before Retirement
Leaving Your Funds with the Pension Plan
Leaving the Plan (age 55 or older with 25 years of service)
10.
Will my pension be there when I retire?
Pension plans like SFPP are long-term investors. The contribution dollars of members and employers paid into the Plan today will be invested and reinvested for many years into the future. The investments compound and grow over time before being used to pay out to members as pensions during their retirement years.

The SFP Board sets funding and investment policies which are regularly monitored. The Board, with the advice of an actuary, sets a funding policy to ensure member and employer contribution levels are sufficient. The contributions, together with expected investment returns, will pay all future pension liabilities.

Further Information:
About SFPP: Financial/Investments

11.
Can I access my pension information?

Access your pension information at any time by registering for mypensionplan, a secure online service that provides personalized pension information to active and deferred members. Additionally, every year, Alberta Pension Services Corporation (APS), SFPP's plan administrator, sends your pension highlights outlining your contributions, pensionable service and pensionable salary.

12.
Can my pension partner waive their rights to my pre-retirement death benefits?
It is the pension partner's right to be paid a lifetime pension benefit if you die. However, pension rules allow your pension partner to waive his or her right to the death benefit that would be paid to him or her if you die before you retire. This provision may provide you with greater flexibility when planning for your family's needs. See the Pension Partner Waiver of Pre-retirement Death Benefit Information Sheet below for further details.

Some things to note if your pension partner waives their rights to a pre-retirement death benefit:
  • Only your pension partner can revoke the waiver.
  • The waiver only applies before you retire. When you retire, your pension partner will be given an opportunity to waive their right to the pension.
  • The signed waiver has no effect on your pension as a matrimonial asset. If your marriage ends, the pension will still be an asset to be dealt with when property is divided through a Matrimonial Property Order.

To waive their rights your pension partner needs to complete a Pension Partner Waiver of Pre-retirement Death Benefit Statutory Declaration Form, below.

Further Information:
Pension Partner Waiver of Pre-pension Commencement of Death Benefit Form (40)
Pension Partner Waiver of Pre-retirement Death Benefit Information Sheet

13.
How can I update my personal information?

You can update your address, phone number, e-mail address and beneficiary information through mypensionplan, by completing the forms on the SFPP website, or by contacting your employer.

Inform your employer of any changes you make through mypensionplan that may impact your employment records, such as an update to your contact information.

If an SFPP employer no longer employs you (meaning you are a deferred member), you can still update your personal data online via mypensionplan, by completing the forms on the SFPP website or by contacting SFPP.

I'm Thinking of Retiring

1.
When can I retire?
The normal retirement age is 55 if you have at least five years of pensionable service. However, you can retire at any age if you have at least 25 years of pensionable service.

You can contribute to SFPP for no more than 35 years. However, if you continue working beyond 35 years, your pensionable salary for all years following the date on which you reach 35 years of service will be considered towards the calculation of your highest five years of salary (highest average salary).

On December 31 of the year you reach age 71, you must begin to receive your benefits from the Plan even if you continue to work.

Note: If you were age 69 or older prior to December 31, 2006, you must begin to receive your benefits from the Plan effective December 31 of the year you reach age 69.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - When Can You Retire?
How is Your Pension Calculated?
Terminating the Plan
Retirement Application Form (21)
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

2.
When do I have to retire?
The minimum retirement age is 55 if you have at least five years of pensionable service. However, you can retire at any age if you have at least 25 years of pensionable service.

You can contribute to SFPP for no more than 35 years. However, if you continue working beyond 35 years, your pensionable salary for all years following the date on which you reach 35 years of service will be considered towards the calculation of your highest five years of salary (highest average salary).

On December 31 of the year you reach age 71, you must begin to receive your benefits from the Plan even if you continue to work.

Note: If you were age 69 or older prior to December 31, 2006, you must begin to receive your benefits from the Plan effective December 31 of the year you reach age 69.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - When Can You Retire?
How is Your Pension Calculated?
Terminating the Plan
Retirement Application Form (21)
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

3.
How early can I retire? Can I receive a pension before age 55?
When you leave your employer, you stop participating in and making contributions to SFPP. If you have five or more years of SFPP pensionable service and are 55 or older, or have 25 or more years of pensionable service and are any age, you have the right to a monthly pension benefit.

Tax rules require you to start your pension before the end of the year in which you turn 71.

Further information is provided regarding the choices available to you if you are no longer a participant:

Further Information:
Member Handbook - When Can You Retire?
How is Your Pension Calculated?
Terminating the Plan
Retirement Application Form (21)
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

4.
What are my options if I leave the Plan before I reach age 55 or with less than 25 years of service?
You become vested when you have five years of pensionable service. Vesting means that you are eligible to receive a lifetime pension at retirement as early as age 55 or at any age when you have 25 years of pensionable service.

When you stop participating, you will have some important financial decisions to make. When deciding what choice is best for you there may be several factors to consider. One important factor to consider is whether leave the plan before or after having 25 years of pensionable service or leaving before or after age 55.

Further information is provided regarding the choices available to you if you are no longer a participant.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - When Can You Retire?
How is Your Pension Calculated?
Terminating the Plan
Retirement Application Form (21)
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

5.
How are pensions calculated?

Your pension is a defined benefit plan. Your pension will be based on your years of pensionable service, the average of your highest consecutive five years' salary and age at the time you retire.

mypensionplan is an online pension information service for members where you can calculate pension estimates based on your personal information. You can also view your length of service, salary, contributions and beneficiaries. To login or begin registration, visit mypensionplan.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - When Can You Retire?
Member Handbook - How is Your Pension Calculated?
Information Sheet - How is Your Pension Calculated?
Pension Estimate Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

6.
How long do pension benefits last?
Your pension will be paid to you for as long as you live.

When you retire, you will be asked to elect a pension option and that option will determine how your pension will be paid following your death. If you have a pension partner when you retire, you will be asked to choose a pension option that ensures your pension partner is paid a pension for their lifetime if you die before your pension partner. Your pension partner can waive this right at the time the pension choice is made.

If you don't have a pension partner, or your pension partner has waived her or his right, you can select a pension that will pay you for your life but includes a feature that ensures the pension is paid to your beneficiary(ies) for a guaranteed period if you die before the end of the guaranteed period.

Further Information:
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
Designation of Beneficiary(ies) Form (5)
Multiple Beneficiaries Form (2L)
I need a pension estimate

7.
What are my pension options?

When you retire, you must make an important choice concerning your pension. There are a number of pension options available from which you will choose the one most suited to your needs. The Retirement Benefit Statement sent to you at retirement will give you personalized pension information.

You can also run your own pension estimates using the Pension Projection Tool available at mypensionplan.

If you have any questions, you can call the Member Services Centre or register for a One-on-One Information Session.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - Retirement Benefits - Pension Options
Information Sheet - What are Your Pension Options?
Information Sheet - Coordinating Your Pension
Register for a One-on-One Information Session

8.
Explain the 'pension coordination' retirement option.

Pension coordination is an option available to eligible members who retire before age 65. It is not the same as the Bridge Benefit. If you elect to coordinate your pension, your monthly pension payment will be temporarily increased until you turn 65.

Once you turn 65, the increase to your pension stops and a reduction to your monthly pension payment begins. This reduction will continue as long as you live and the dollar value of the reduction may total more than the increase you received before 65.

If you have a coordinated pension and you die before age 65, the increase in the monthly payment will stop. The amount paid to your pension partner or beneficiary, if any, reverts to your original pension choice without coordination. The pension will not be reduced on the date you would have reached age 65.

If you die after age 65, the reduction in the monthly payment will stop upon your death, and your pension partner or beneficiary will receive the original monthly SFPP survivor pension.

If you commenced pension prior to January 1, 2004, please review your pension choice on the pensioner portal or contact the Member Services Centre at 1-877-422-4748.

Further Information:
Information Sheet - Coordinating Your Pension
Schedule a One-on-One Information Session
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

9.
I need a pension estimate.

If you would like a pension estimate, you have three options:

1. An Estimate Based on Your Actual Information
Sign in to mypensionplan to create a pension estimate using your actual pension information on file with SFPP.

2. A Rough Estimate Based on Data You Provide
Using hypothetical pension information, create an immediate estimate with the pension estimator. This can be helpful if you would like to understand how your pension may be affected by different retirement scenarios.

3. A Formal Estimate
Complete a Pension Estimate Request Form and send it to SFPP?s Administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS). Contact information can be found on the form.

Further Information:
How is Your Pension Calculated?
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

10.
Can I still go on a disability pension if my employer has an LTDI plan?
If you joined SFPP after June 30, 2007, the Plan does not provide a disability pension.

If you joined SFPP before July 1, 2007, the disability pension benefit still exists if you qualify. If you are currently employed, talk to your employer for more information. If you left your employment and left your funds with SFPP, contact our administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), for more information.
11.
What happens after I retire (re-employment, Cost-of-Living Adjustment)?

Can I go to work after I retire and still collect my pension?
Will my pension be adjusted for Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)?

What if I choose a pension option with coordination?

For an overview of what to expect and things to consider after you retire, see the following for more information:
Pensioners
Working as a Pensioner
Link - Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)
Designation of Beneficiary for Pensioners Form

For information on what to expect if you've chosen coordination are are now 65, see the following:
Coordinating Your Pension

 

12.
Where can I get assistance to apply for retirement?
For assistance with retirement, view the "Steps to retirement" video on the right hand side of this webpage.

Step one To help plan for your future, it may be useful to know what your approximate monthly pension payments from SFPP will be. You can obtain a pension estimate at mypensionplan, our secure website for members.

Step two is the retirement application. No more than three months before your retirement date, fill out the Retirement Application form.

If you are still employed complete the application in conjunction with your employer. Your employer will complete their portion of the form and send it to SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS).

If you are no longer a participant and have left your funds from an earlier period of employment in the Plan, fill out the Retirement Application Form and send it directly to APS.

Step three is your pension election. APS will calculate your pension and send you a Retirement Benefit Statement. The amounts payable under each pension options are outlined in your Retirement Benefit Statement. Decide which option is best for you based on your situation, as well as your short and long-term financial goals. Your choice cannot be changed after your pension benefits have been paid.

Please complete the forms, make a copy for you records, and return the completed election along with any other requested document to APS.

Finally, APS will audit the pension calculations and all the information you and your employer have provided. If APS receives all necessary information from you and your employer prior to your retirement date, you should receive your first pension payment 30 days after your retirement date. If the information has not been received from your employer by that time, your pension may be adjusted after the final service and salary information is received from your employer.
13.
What is the bridge benefit?

Under SFPP, if you retire before age 65, a bridge benefit is automatically included in your pension until you turn 65. The bridge benefit is added to your SFPP pension to ?bridge the gap? between your retirement date and the date you may be eligible to begin your federal pensions. When you turn 65 the bridge benefit is permanently removed from your SFPP pension.

14.
Will my pension partner continue to receive my pension if he or she marries after my death?
Whether your pension partner marries after your death does not affect the pension. Your pension is paid according to the pension election you make when you retire.

There are many pension options available to you when you retire. Each of those options provide a different death-benefit for your survivor.

For information on survivor benefits prior to your retirement, please see the Death Before Retirement information sheet.

I'm Somewhere in the Middle

1.
When will I receive my pension highlights (member annual statement)?
Each year, SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), will send you your pension highlights detailing your contributions, pensionable service and pensionable salary. It will also show you an estimate of your pension, if applicable.
You can also access your pension information online whenever you need by registering on mypensionplan.

If you have not received your pension highlights, it may be because it has not been prepared yet. The time it takes to produce the pension highlights actually depends on how quickly and accurately your year-end data is submitted to SFPP. In the meantime, you may obtain your salary, service, and beneficiary information online at mypensionplan, in the Pension History area located under "My Personal Data".

Once your pension highlights has been prepared, it will be mailed to you and you will also be able to view it at mypensionplan.  If you would no longer like to receive paper statements, you may go to mypensionplan, select the option to "Go Green" and you will receive e-mail notification when your statement has been posted online.
2.
How do I find my member identifier so I can register for mypensionplan? How do I login?
Your member identifier is the 10-digit number assigned to you by our plan administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS).

You can find your member identifier on the following documents, your:

  • Annual statement;
  • Retirement Benefit Statement; or
  • Welcome package.
You can register for the mypensionplan website using your first and last name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Insurance Number, and the name of your most recent employer. Once you have successfully registered on mypensionplan your identifier number will be located in the top right hand corner of the website.
3.
How long may I contribute?
You can contribute until you have 35 years of pensionable service, or until December 31 of the year you reach age 71, whichever is earliest.

If you remain employed after you have 35 years of service, you won't pay contributions. However, your pensionable salary for all years following the date on which you reach 35 years of service will be considered towards the calculation of your highest five years of salary (highest average salary).

On December 31 of the year you reach age 71, you must begin to receive your benefits from the Plan even if you continue to work.

Note: If you were age 69 or older prior to December 31, 2006:
  • you are not eligible to contribute beyond December 31, 2006.
  • you must begin to receive your benefits from the Plan effective December 31 of the year you reach age 69.

Further information:
Member Handbook - How Much Do You Contribute?

4.
I have five years of plan membership (service).

Once you have five years of membership in SFPP, you are vested. This means you are entitled to a pension at retirement.

If you leave SFPP with five years of pensionable service, you have a number of choices.

Further Information:
SFPP At-a-Glance
Terminating the Plan
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate

5.
I want to purchase prior service.
You may increase your future pension by purchasing a period of previous employment (prior service) if eligible.

When you apply, you will receive a Buyback Proposal notifying you of the cost to purchase the prior service. You can decide whether you want to purchase the service at that time.

If you would like to apply to purchase prior service, you can contact your employer. They will help you apply to purchase prior service through SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS). When you apply, you will receive a Buyback Proposal if the service is eligible to be purchased. You can decide whether you want to purchase the service at that time.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - How Can You Increase Your Benefit?
Leaves of Absence (Buying Leave)

Buying Prior Service

6.
I want to purchase a leave or period of parental leave.
If you take a leave without salary (including parental leave), you may add that period of time to your pensionable service and thereby increase your future pension. You may continue to make pension contributions through your employer while you are on leave. If you don't do this, you may apply to purchase the period of leave once you return to work.

There are time limits for electing to purchase your leave of absence. You will receive a Buyback Proposal in the year following your return to work. You must elect to purchase that service before May 1st of the year following your return to work. For example, if you had a leave from February 1, 2015 to June 15, 2015, you would need to elect to purchase the leave period before May 1, 2016.

Parental leave and maternity leave are the same thing. Men or women can apply to purchase up to three years of parental leave, in addition to the five years of leave allowed for any other member. For parental leave, the leave begins at the time of the birth of a natural child or adoption of a child, and ends 12 months after that.

In the event that you were on leave with partial or full salary, were receiving benefits under an approved long-term disability plan, were receiving temporary benefits under the Workers' Compensation Board, or were receiving benefits under a short-term disability plan which was treated as pensionable by your employer, you and your employer would have continued to make contributions to the pension plan. As such, there is no purchasable leave of absence.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - How Can You Increase Your Benefit?
Leaves of Absence (Buying Leave)

7.
Is it worth it to buy a leave or period of optional service?
There are many things to consider before this question can be answered. When you receive your Buyback Proposal for the leave, you will be provided with information that may help you understand the pros and cons of purchasing service.

If you are purchasing leave within the time limits, the cost of the leave is based on what you would have contributed had you been working, plus interest. If the period you are looking at is the first year of leave you have bought under the Plan, you only pay your contributions and interest. If you are purchasing more than one year of leave, you also pay what your employer would have contributed on your behalf had you remained at work.

Time limits apply for purchasing a leave. Contact your employer if you would like to apply to purchase a leave of absence. In order to purchase the service as a leave of absence, you must elect to do so before May 1st of the year following your return to work.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - How Can You Increase Your Benefit?
Leaves of Absence (Buying Leave)

8.
What is a buyback?
You can increase your future benefits by purchasing prior service. This is referred to as a buyback. Some examples of prior service include:
  • previous employment with your current employer;
  • previous employment with another employer who participates in SFPP; or
  • contributory service under another pension plan in some circumstances.
To be eligible, you must not be entitled to a benefit from another registered pension plan for the same period of service. Contact SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), to get more information on paying for prior service with a transfer from another pension plan.

If you decide you want to consider purchasing prior service, talk to your employer's human resources staff. They will provide you with the forms you need to get a Buyback Proposal. The Buyback Proposal contains important information about how the service will affect your benefits, things you need to consider before you make a decision as well as the cost to purchase the service.

Further Information:

Member Handbook - How Can You Increase Your Benefit?

Leaves of Absence (Buying Leave)

Buying Prior Service

9.
I have a new address.
You may update your address and phone number by logging in to our secure website mypensionplan, by contacting your employer or by calling our Member Services Centre.

Be sure to inform your employer of any changes you make through mypensionplan that may impact your employment records, such as an update to your contact information.
10.
I'm getting married.
If you get married, make sure to update your new name and address (if applicable).

If you are contributing to the pension plan, please contact your employer to update this information. If you are no longer contributing to the pension plan and need to update this information, please contact the Member Services Centre.

Once you are married, your spouse becomes your pension partner. If you die, your pension partner is automatically your beneficiary; however, if your pension partner dies before you, your benefits will go to your beneficiary(ies). As such, you may want to update your beneficiary(ies).

For more information on how having a pension partner will affect your pension options, see the following: 
Update your information on mypensionplan
What are Your Pension Options?
Pension Partner Information (5)
Designation of Beneficiary(ies) Form (2)
Multiple Beneficiaries Form (2L)
11.
My family is growing.
If there has been a change in your family (for example, you had a baby or adopted a child), you may want to update your beneficiaries. If so, please submit an updated Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form to your employer and to SFPP?s administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS).

If you have benefits in more than one pension plan, please complete and submit the associated Designation of Beneficiary(ies) forms in addition to the SFPP form.

Talk to your employer about any leave of absence you may have taken as a result of the change in your family.

Further Information:
Update your information on mypensionplan
Pension Partner Information (5)
Designation of Beneficiary(ies) Form (5)
Multiple Beneficiaries Form (2L)

12.
I'm getting divorced.

Marital breakdown can result in division of your pension. Regulations regarding pension division on marital breakdown impact members of SFPP. You may want to obtain legal advice to make sure you understand your options.

Visit the Pension Division Upon Marital Breakdown page, or call the Member Services Centre at 1-877-809-SFPP (7377) to discuss this in further detail.

Further Information:
Member Handbook - Marital Breakdown
Pension Partner Information (5)
Designation of Beneficiary(ies) Form (2)
Multiple Beneficiaries Form (2L)
Marital Breakdown Information for your lawyer

13.
I want to change or add a beneficiary.

You can designate one or more beneficiaries, or even a charitable organization. You may name anyone as a beneficiary by providing our administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), with a completed Designation of Beneficiary(ies) form found online at www.sfpp.ca. In addition, mypensionplan is a secure website for active and deferred members of SFPP which allows you to add or update your beneficiary information. Alternatively, you can also use a Will as long as it specifically refers to your pension plan by name.

Regardless of your marital status you should designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries. That way, APS knows to whom the benefit is to be paid if you have no pension partner, your pension partner predeceases you or if your pension partner has waived the right to a benefit. If you have no pension partner and you haven?t designated a beneficiary your benefit will be paid to your estate.

Further Information:
Death Before Retirement
Leaving Your Funds with SFPP
Designation of Beneficiary(ies) Form (5)
Multiple Beneficiaries Form (2L)

14.
How do I correct the marital status on my pension file?
If you would like to add a pension partner, please complete the Pension Partner Information form found on the SFPP website.

If your marital status has changed due to marital breakdown, please forward a copy of your Divorce Certificate. You cannot remove a pension partner without supporting documentation.

Documents can be submitted online through the secure website mypensionplan or to SFPP?s administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS).

If you have additional questions regarding updating your marital status, or whom qualifies as a pension partner, please
contact the Member Services Centre.
15.
How do I use my RRSP to purchase my prior service or my leave of absence?
You can pay all or part of the cost of your service by RRSP transfer.

If you choose to purchase part of your service by RRSP transfer, the transfer needs to be received by APS before the balance is sent in. You can elect to purchase your service by RRSP transfer on your Buyback Election. Because the transfer takes time to process, make sure you talk to your financial institution as early in the process as you can so you don't miss the payment due date on your Buyback Proposal.

Complete the T2033 form and send this to SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS), who will send it to your financial institution for processing. Confirm with your financial institution they will be sending a cheque to SFPP, care of APS.
To pay for service using your existing registered funds, follow these steps:

Step 1 Go to the Forms & Information Sheets section of the SFPP website and select the T2033. You will be linked to the T2033 on the CRA website.

Step 2 Complete Area I ? Annuitant.
Part A:
Check the box next to I am the annuitant under the RRSP. If you don't know your RRSP/LIRA plan number, you can ask your financial institution for it. Provide the name and address of your financial institution branch.
Part B: Check these boxes:
  • Please transfer; and
  • the lump sum of $_____ ; and
  • in cash.
Enter the amount you want transferred from your financial institution. Please don't check off "all of the property" unless all your RRSP funds are needed to cover the cost of the service and the funds are not greater than the buyback cost. Be sure to check the box that says in cash.
Part C: Sign Part C where it says Annuitant's signature and enter the date you signed the form. Select the option to transfer your funds to a RPP. The registration number for SFPP is 0584375. If the rest of Part C is not already completed, don't worry, APS will complete that section on your behalf.

Step 3 Mail the completed form to LAPP c/o APS at the address shown at the end of this information sheet. When APS receives your form, they will complete Area II ? Transferee and send the form to your financial institution.

Your financial institution will complete Area III ? Transferor and send the form and a cheque to APS on your behalf. APS will advise you by letter that that your account has been credited with your transfer. CRA will advise you that your RRSP contribution limit has been reduced (when applicable).
16.
Why would I use my RRSP to pay the cost of a leave or prior service?
An RRSP is used for your future retirement income and purchasing service increases your retirement income. Some members choose to do this because they can reduce the amount of past service pension adjustment (PSPA) associated with the buyback. The interest rate on the amount owing might be higher than the interest they are earning on their RRSPs.
17.
How do I pay for my leave of absence by cheque?
You can update your address, phone number, e-mail address and beneficiary information through mypensionplan, by completing the forms on the SFPP website or by contacting your employer.

Inform your employer of any changes you make through mypensionplan that may impact your employment records, such as an update to your contact information.

If an SFPP employer no longer employs you (meaning you are a deferred member), you can still update your personal data online via mypensionplan, by completing the forms on the SFPP website or by contacting SFPP.
18.
How do I pay for my leave of absence a little each pay period?
Your Buyback Proposal will contain options to make payments on an annual basis. You may elect to do so when you return your Buyback Election to your employer and SFPP?s administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS).

After your first payment, you will be charged interest on the outstanding balance. Your next payment will be due on the anniversary date of your first payment.

If you are currently making payments on a buyback contract on a non-annual basis and wish to change to an annual basis, please contact APS for an updated re-amortization schedule.
19.
How can I pay for my leave of absence once a year?
Your Buyback Proposal will contain options to make payments on an annual basis. You may elect to do so when you return your Buyback Election to your employer and SFPP's administrator, Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS).

After your first payment, you will be charged interest on the outstanding balance. Your next payment will be due on the anniversary date of your first payment.

If you are currently making payments on a buyback contract on a non-annual basis and wish to change to an annual basis, please contact APS for an updated re-amortization schedule.
20.
Can I make extra payments when I buy service?
Yes, you can pay with a lump sum payment through your employer, instalments through your employer or with a transfer from an RRSP or LIRA set up through your financial institution. This is a good way to reduce the amount of interest you will pay overall, and you'll pay off the cost of your service faster. Please talk to your employer or financial institution about their requirements for these types of payment.

I'm Thinking of Leaving

1.
How long will it take to process my termination benefit?
If you have already stopped contributing to your pension plan, SFPP will send you a Termination Statement to explain your options after your employer reports your salary and service. If you stopped contributing more than one month ago and have not received a Termination Statement, please contact your former employer.

Decide which option is best for you based on your situation as well as your short and long-term financial goals. Your choice cannot be changed after your pension benefits have been paid or transferred.

Once all the required documents from your Termination Statement are received, a cheque will be sent to your financial institution, or you if applicable, within eight to twelve weeks of when you make your election.

If you choose to transfer your funds to another pension plan, please complete the appropriate transfer application and send a copy to both SFPP and your new pension plan. It will take more time for both plans to exchange information and calculate the transfer details. Once those calculations are done, you will be sent information about the transfer and an authorization form.
2.
Does SFPP have transfer agreements with other pension plans?

SFPP has transfer agreements with the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP), the Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan and the Regina Police Pension Plan.

Each pension plan has its own benefit formula and contribution rates. If you transfer your pensionable service into a new plan, that plan will calculate the value of that service according to its own benefit provisions.

If you have any questions, please contact SFPP.

In order to be eligible to transfer your benefit entitlements from SFPP into LAPP you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have ceased participating in SFPP on or after January 1, 1994 and have left your benefit entitlements in the plan;
  • You are not entitled to an unreduced SFPP pension as of the date you are applying to transfer; and
  • You are currently participating in LAPP.

If you meet the eligibility criteria above, you can request a transfer package by submitting an Application to Transfer Pension Entitlements between SFPP and LAPP. Please note that your transfer application must be received by APS while you are an active participant in LAPP for it to be valid.

  • Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan
  • Regina Police Pension Plan

In order to be eligible to transfer your benefit entitlements from SFPP into the Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan or the Regina Police Pension Plan you must meet the following criteria:

  • You have ceased participating in SFPP on or after January 1, 1994 and have left your benefit entitlements in the plan; and
  • You are currently participating in either the Manitoba Municipal Employees Pension Plan or the Regina Police Pension Plan.

If you meet the eligibility criteria above, you can request a transfer package by contacting the administrator of your current pension plan.

3.
What are my options if I leave the Plan before I reach age 55?
When you stop participating in SFPP, you will have some important financial decisions to make. When deciding what choice is best for you there may be several factors to consider. One important factor to consider is whether you are vested.

You become vested when you have five or more years of pensionable service. Vesting means that you are eligible to receive a pension at retirement as early as age 55. In addition, you can retire after 25 years of pensionable service even if you are younger than age 55.

If you leave SFPP before age 55 but after you have 25 years of pensionable service, you will not be eligible for a termination benefit.

Further information is provided regarding the choices available to you if you are no longer a participant in SFPP:
Terminating the Plan
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate
4.
What are my options if I leave the Plan after I reach age 55?
When you stop participating in SFPP, you will have some important financial decisions to make. When deciding what choice is best for you there may be several factors to consider. One important factor to consider is whether you are vested.

You become vested when you have five or more years of pensionable service. Vesting means that you are eligible to receive a pension at retirement as early as age 55. If you leave SFPP after age 55 and have more than five years of pensionable service, you are eligible for an unreduced pension.

Further information is provided regarding the choices available to you if you are no longer a participant in SFPP:
Member Handbook - Leaving the Plan Before Retirement
Terminating the Plan
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate
Information Sheet - Coordinating Your Pension
Register for a One-on-One Information Session
5.
When are my contributions to the pension plan locked in? What does this mean?
Funds may become locked-in when you become vested.

When your funds are locked-in, it means you can only
  • use the funds for a lifetime pension, or
  • transfer your benefit into another type of account that will be used to provide a lifetime retirement benefit. For example, if you are entitled to the commuted value of your benefit, a portion of your funds may be required to be transferred to a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) or another pension plan.
A LIRA is a type of Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Funds transferred to a LIRA can only be withdrawn after age 50 as a monthly payment. There is no tax withheld from a LIRA.

If you elect to transfer your funds to a LIRA, you will need to establish a LIRA with a financial institution.

Further information:
Member Handbook - Leaving the Plan Before Retirement
Terminating the Plan
Pension Estimate Request Form (88)
I need a pension estimate
Information Sheet - Coordinating Your Pension
Register for a One-on-One Information Session

6.
Why would my payout have to be paid on a locked-in basis?
Plan rules state that when the commuted value of a benefit is paid, a portion of it may be required to be paid on a locked-in basis. Plan rules are based on provincial pension standards law. Locking-in the funds ensures those funds are there for your future.

If you were vested but still eligible to have your funds paid out of the Plan, the commuted value paid is locked-in to ensure a pension is eventually paid. In the event you elect to take a payout, the locked-in portion of your commuted value must be transferred to a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA). A LIRA is a tax-sheltered savings vehicle from which funds cannot be withdrawn until after age 50. You will need to establish a LIRA with a financial institution so the commuted value payable to you can be transferred.

Plan rules state that once a member is vested, no more than half of the commuted value can be made up of the member's contributions and interest. The rest of the commuted value is made up of the employer's contributions and interest and plan funds. The commuted value represents the amount of money that must be set aside today at current interest rates to provide a pension at a future date. It is not a refund of what you contributed.

For any service credited prior to January 1, 1992, you will receive a refund of your contributions and interest.

Further Information:
Terminating the Plan

7.
How can I unlock funds that are locked-in to a LIRA?

If your funds have been (or will be) transferred to a LIRA, they can be removed from the LIRA under circumstances allowed by the Employment Pensions Plans Act. Normally, funds cannot be removed from a LIRA until age 50.

For general information on converting your LIRA, go to http://finance.alberta.ca/publications/pensions/information-for-individuals.html.

For more information contact your financial institution.

8.
I have a financial hardship. Can I cash my LIRA?
The Employment Pension Plans Act and Employment Pension Plans Regulation has rules for allowing a person to remove funds from a Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA) due to a financial hardship.

Effective September 1, 2014, any application to unlock Alberta funds due to financial hardship must be submitted to the financial institution that holds your locked-in funds. 

Alberta's Superintendent of Pensions lists the following as reasons for unlocking funds in your LIRA due to a financial hardship:
  • low income
  • foreclosure
  • eviction
  • first month's rent and security deposit
  • medical costs
For more information and the form to be used, go to: http://finance.alberta.ca/publications/pensions/information-for-individuals.html.

For more information about LIRA and the Employment Pensions Plans Act, call 780-427-8322.
9.
Is the commuted value made up of both employee and employer contributions? What are excess contributions?

No. A commuted value is a one-time payment that represents the amount of money that must be set aside today, based on current interest rates, to provide pension payments at a future date.

However, the Plan rules state a member's contributions and interest cannot make up more than half of the commuted value. If the member contributions and interest in your account are more than half of your commuted value, you will be paid the difference. This is called "excess contributions".

Excess contributions will be paid to you by cheque, less income tax. They may also be transferred to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) (no tax is deducted), subject to the Maximum Transfer Value limit set by the Canada Revenue Agency. Any excess contributions above the Maximum Transfer Value limit must be paid to you by cheque, less income tax.

Further Information:
Terminating the Plan<

10.
If I transfer my funds to an RRSP, can I claim an RRSP contribution for it when I file my income tax?

No. Transfers to RRSPs or Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRA) are subject to special income tax reporting. So when there is a direct transfer of your benefit from your pension plan to one of these types of accounts, you are not charged income tax on the transfer out of your pension benefit, but you also cannot claim it as a contribution to an RRSP or LIRA.

 

11.
What if I no longer live in Canada?

If you are considered by Canada Revenue Agency as no longer being a resident of Canada you may be eligible to have the commuted value of your pension paid to you instead of it being transferred to a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA). See the Payment of a Benefit to a Non-Resident of Canada Information Sheet for more information.

If you have a pension partner they need to complete a Pension Partner Waiver to Permit Commutation due to Taking Non-residency Status Statutory Declaration.