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What is the Canada Pension Plan survivor's pension?

When someone dies who has contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, a survivor's pension is paid to the common-law partner or legal spouse of the decedent. There are guidelines for determining who is a common-law partner, though. You must be in a conjugal relationship with your common-law partner for at least a year. Your partner can be of either sex.

In order to prove that you and your spouse had a common-law relationship before you two got married, you will need to fill out a special form. The Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union form with either one or two signatures must be completed.

In order to get a survivor's pension, you must apply for it. You can only receive back payments for up to 12 months, so it's important to apply as soon as you can after the contributor died.

There are a number of factors that will determine how much the survivor's pension will be. For example, if you are age 65 or older, then the survivor's pension is 60 per cent of the pension the contributor received in retirement. This is only true, though, if you are not receiving other benefits from the CPP.

When you apply, you should have your first payment within six to 12 weeks. If the benefit amount isn't what you thought it should be or the survivor's pension was denied, then you can request a reconsideration.

This can be a complex process in some cases. You may want to have a lawyer take care of preparing the proper forms after he or she determines how much you should receive.

Source: Government of Canada, "Survivor's Pension," accessed March 18, 2016

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