Guide for plan members
Municipal Pension Plan is committed to helping you make the most of your pension. This guide is a provincial requirement. Please use the links at right to explore the topics most relevant to you.
Your monthly pension payment may increase as a result of an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Beyond providing lifetime pension benefits, granting COLAs that are sustainable over the long term and within the plan's long-term funding capacity is the second priority of BC's Municipal Pension Board of Trustees.
This adjustment may be added to your pension to help it keep pace with increases in the cost of living. COLA is based on:
- The change in the Canadian consumer price index (CPI) from September to September
- The COLA cap set by the board; for 2020-2022, the maximum COLA that can be applied is 2.1 per cent
- The funds available in the plan's inflation adjustment account
COLA is funded from the plan’s inflation adjustment account. This account holds a portion of member and employer pension contributions, and it earns investment income.
If the board decides to grant a COLA, it will take effect in January. Increases are applied to the lifetime portion of your pension. The COLA is also applied to the bridge benefit and the temporary annuity portion of your pension while you are receiving them.
The board follows specific rules when deciding to can grant a COLA for the year within three limits:
- The adjustment cannot be greater than the September to September increase in the CPI
- The adjustment cannot be higher than the COLA cap
- The cost of the adjustment cannot exceed the funding set aside to pay for COLA
For example, if the change in CPI from September to September is 1.0 per cent, the board can grant a COLA of a maximum of 1.0 per cent. If the change in CPI is 2.5 per cent and the current COLA cap is 2.1 per cent, the board can only grant a COLA of 2.1 per cent.
Although future COLAs are not guaranteed, once you have received an adjustment, it becomes part of your basic lifetime pension.
View the most-recent winter issue of Pension Life to find out if a COLA will be granted and, if so, its percentage. You can check the pension statement you receive in January to see the impact of the COLA on your monthly pension payment for the coming year.
Cost-of-living adjustment history
When you retire, the extended health care and dental coverage you may have been receiving through your employer will stop. BC's Municipal Pension Plan has partnered with Pacific Blue Cross to offer you access to coverage when you retire. If you choose, you can also include your spouse and/or eligible dependant(s).
As a retired plan member, you can apply for the following coverage:
Extended health care
This supplemental plan extends your medical coverage beyond what is covered by the Medical Services Plan (MSP) of BC and other provincial health plans. It includes coverage for prescription drugs and other expenses such as medical aids and supplies, as well as the cost of some services. The extended health care plan is currently partly subsidized based on your years of service, however the subsidy is not guaranteed and can be changed or eliminated at any time.
You can choose from two unsubsidized plans to help cover dental costs.
Enrolling is entirely optional, however the advantage of joining these extended health care and dental plans is that you will receive Municipal Pension Plan's group premium rate. This means your cost is often better than what you could get from an individual plan.
If you do not enrol when you retire and apply for your pension, you can only enrol later on if you have been continuously covered in an extended health care plan and/or dental plan since your retirement date.
How premiums are paid
You must pay premiums to receive these extended health care and dental plans. Premiums are deducted from your pension payments.
The extended health care and dental plans offered by the Municipal Pension Plan are not guaranteed benefits, and coverage may change. This means that your coverage, premiums and deductibles may increase, decrease or be eliminated.
You may decide to return to work after you retire and are receiving a pension from BC's Municipal Pension Plan. If this is the case, you will continue to receive your pension.
If you start working for an employer that participates in the Municipal Pension Plan, please inform your employer that you are a retired member of the plan. This will ensure that your employer does not re-enrol you in the plan.
If your new employer does not participate in the Municipal Pension Plan, you may be eligible to contribute to your new employer’s pension plan, if it has one. Talk to your new employer for details.
When you die, your pension can provide financial support for your family and other people or organizations important to you. BC's Municipal Pension Plan may pay a death benefit – a monthly amount or lump-sum payment, depending on the situation – to your spouse or other beneficiaries you have named.
Any amount paid would depend on:
- Your age at death
- If you die before you have retired
- Whom you have named as your beneficiary
Shortened life expectancy
If you are an active member of the plan and have a shortened life expectancy, you may be able to access your pension benefit before you die. Please contact the plan for more information.
If you die before you retire
If you die before you retire and have pension contributions on deposit with the plan, your beneficiary(ies) will be paid a death benefit.
Your spouse is automatically your beneficiary unless they have given up their beneficiary right to a pre-retirement death benefit. This means that if you die before you retire:
- Before your earliest retirement age (under 55 for most members or 50 for police officers and firefighters), your spouse is eligible for either:
- an immediate monthly pension, payable for their lifetime
- a lump-sum payment equal to the commuted value of your pension
- After your earliest retirement age, your spouse is only eligible to receive an immediate monthly pension, payable for their lifetime
If you do not have a spouse or your spouse has given up their beneficiary right to the pre-retirement death benefit, your named beneficiaries are eligible for a lump-sum payment of the commuted value of your pension benefit.
If you do not have a spouse and have not named a beneficiary through the plan or in your will, the pre-retirement death benefit is paid to your estate.
If you die after you retire
Depending on the pension option you selected when you retired, your pension may be paid to your beneficiary(ies) as a monthly pension for a set period (or their lifetime) or as a lump-sum payment.
For example, if you chose:
- A single life pension with a guarantee period and you die before that period expires, your monthly pension will continue to be paid to your beneficiary(ies) until the end of the guarantee period, or they may choose to receive a lump-sum payment
- A joint life 100 per cent pension and you die at any time, your monthly pension will continue to be paid to your spouse until they die
- A joint life pension with a guarantee period and you die before that period expires, your monthly pension will be paid to your spouse until the end of the guarantee period, after which the joint life percentage will be paid to your spouse until they die
If your beneficiary is an organization, any remaining monthly pension payments will be paid to the organization as a lump sum.
Your spouse and dependent children may be eligible for health and dental coverage through the plan. Certain conditions apply and coverage is not guaranteed.
Paying death benefits to former spouses
If you and your former spouse had a complete, signed separation agreement or registered court order where you agreed to divide your pension, we will follow those terms when paying any death benefits.
Guide for plan members: links to additional information