Plan Provisions

The following is for general information only and does not cover every detail of each topic. If there is any discrepancy between this information and the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Pension Act, the provisions of the Teachers’ Pension Act and Regulations will determine the entitlements and options available.

To assist you, please click on the links here organized under these categories:

Membership  |  Contribution Rates  |  Pension Eligibility & Formula  |  Purchases  |  Survivor Pension Options  |  Designation of Beneficiary  |  Cost of Living Adjustment (Indexing)


Membership

Most teachers who are employed in the public school system and/or community college system in Nova Scotia are required, as a condition of employment, to be members of the Teachers' Pension Plan. There are some exceptions. Federal income tax regulations and/or the rules of the pension plan do not permit the following groups to contribute to the pension plan:

  • someone who has 35 or more years of pensionable service;
  • someone who is 71 years of age or older;
  • a pensioner who has returned to teach and teaches less than 70 days;
  • someone in receipt of a pension from the Nova Scotia government plan.

 

In the first two cases above you cease to contribute in the month in which you met either of the conditions. If your school board inadvertently continues taking contributions, you should contact your payroll office. The school board will return these contributions to you.

A note of explanation may be in order regarding the "age 71" rule. This is the maximum age up to which the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) permits contributions to be made. Whether or not you are permitted to be employed up to that age is a matter dealt with in collective agreements. It is not within the jurisdiction of the pension plan rules.

A "teacher" is defined as someone who holds a teacher's certificate or a teaching permit qualifying the person to teach in the public schools in the Province, including a vocational teacher's certificate or a vocational teaching permit. As well, a teacher is also someone who is employed by a school board or the Minister of Education in a teaching, supervisory or other professional capacity relating to education. Teachers employed by the following organizations are also members of the plan:

  • Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority
  • Nova Scotia Teachers' Union
  • Canadian Teachers' Federation

 

A teacher who is on secondment, e.g. working for a limited term in the Department of Education or with another organization, continues to be paid by the original employing school board and contributes to the Teachers' Pension Plan.

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Contribution Rates

How much do I contribute to the pension plan?

Please click here to download the contribution formula sheet.

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Pension Eligibility & Formula

You are eligible for a retirement pension if you have stopped working as a teacher and if you meet one of the age and service requirements listed below. There is no age requirement when 35 years of service or greater is reached.

  • age equal to at least 60 and service equal to at least 10
  • age equal to at least 55 and age plus service equals 85 or more
  • age equal to at least 65 and service equal to at least 2 years
  • age equal to at least 55 and service equal to at least 20 years (this is a reduced pension)
  • age equal to at least 55 and service equal to at least 10 years (this is a reduced pension)
  • age equal to at least 55 and service equal to at least 2 years (this is a reduced pension)
  • age equal to at least 50 and service equal to at least 30 years (this is a reduced pension)

 

If you do not have any service after January 1, 1988, the "65 and 2" and "55 and 2" rules do not apply.

If you are under 65 when you retire, the pension you will receive will include your lifetime teacher's pension plus a bridge payment. This bridge payment will cease at age 65 when it is assumed that you will be receiving the Canada Pension. Your teacher's pension including your bridge payment is calculated as follows:

  • 2% x highest 5-year average salary x years of pensionable service.

 
The bridge payment is calculated as follows:

  • 0.7% x highest 5 year average YMPE x years of pensionable service after 1965.

 

If you qualify for a reduced service pension under the "55 and 20" rule, the amount of the reduction will vary depending upon how close you are to qualifying for an unreduced pension. The reduction factor is based on the number of months in the period from the date you are eligible to receive a reduced pension to the date when you would be eligible to receive an unreduced pension, i.e. rule of 85 or 60 years of age and 10 years of service. The reduction is as follows:

  • 0.4% per month for the first 24 months
  • 0.3% per month for the next 36 months

 

The maximum reduction is 20.4%.

If you are applying under the "50 and 30" rule, your pension shall be reduced by 5% for each year you either are less than age 55 or have less than 35 years of service, whichever is the lesser.

One of the most important things to remember about your pension is that you must apply for it. It is not paid automatically upon retirement. It usually takes about one month to put a pension into pay, so apply early; 3 months ahead of your retirement if possible.

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Purchases

Click here for Purchasing Pensionable Service Brochure.

Purchases of additional service are allowed under the Teachers' Pension Act and Regulations, but are also subject to the rules of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These rules are in addition to those of the pension plan. If the pension plan does not permit something, then it is still not permitted regardless of CRA's conditions.

There are three categories of purchases that you may be eligible to make. The first covers periods of absence from your employment as a teacher in Nova Scotia, e.g. maternity leave or study leave. The second covers other service when you were not a teacher in Nova Scotia, e.g. service as a teacher in another province.  The third is service for which you previously received a refund from the Nova Scotia Teachers' Pension Plan.

If service is recognized under the pension plan as a purchasable item, payment may be made by either a personal cheque or a transfer of funds from an RRSP depending upon CRA's regulations.

The member shall pay as contributions the following percentage of the actuarial cost of the pensionable service:

  • for maternity leave, 50%;
  • for adoption leave, 100%;
  • for parental leave, 100%;
  • for study leave, 50%;
  • for an absence for taking an academic or professional course of study or engaging in an activity approved by the Plan administrator as an equivalent, 50%;
  • for unpaid sick leave, 50%;
  • for layoff, 100%.

 

The "actuarial value" is determined using a somewhat complex mathematical formula which takes into account your salary, your age and other factors such as your projected mortality. The actuarial cost is the present value of the additional pension which you will ultimately be paid as a result of making the purchase. In general terms, the closer you are to retirement, i.e. the older you are, and the higher your salary, the higher the actuarial cost.

 

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Survivor Pension Options

Click here for the Survivor Options Brochure.

Effective Date:  April 1, 2003

Rules

Old Rules:  No options. There is no minimum guarantee period for which your pension is paid. Your pension is paid to you for life; if you have a surviving spouse or dependant, he or she will get 60% of your pension, upon your death. Even though there are new rules, this old rule of 60% is still in effect and may be chosen.

New Rules:  Instead of the old rules (which remain in effect) you may choose to accept a slightly reduced lifetime pension in return for a guarantee or enhanced survivor's pension. In order to do this you may choose one or both of the following:

A. survivor pension as a percentage of your pension: 80% or 100%; and/or
B. guarantee period for which your pension will be paid: 5 years, or 10 years, or 15 years.

Details and Examples

Survivor pensions are only payable if there is an eligible survivor. This is usually a spouse but if there is no spouse, a survivor may be a child under 18 years of age (or under 25 if a continuous full time student) or a parent or sibling dependant on you by reason of infirmity. If you have no spouse or other dependant, you would not choose an enhanced survivor pension.

The guarantee period refers to the minimum period for which your pension will be paid, regardless of when you die. Your pension is paid for your lifetime. That does not change. If you select one of the guarantee periods, the pension plan will continue to pay your pension at the rate at which it was originally paid to you, even if you die before the end of the guarantee period.

Example: Assume you choose an 80% survivor option and a 10-year guarantee and that you die four years after retirement. This means that your pension is paid to you for four years (until your death) and continues at 100% to your spouse for the next six years (the remainder of the guarantee period) and then continues to your spouse at 80% for the remainder of his or her life. If you die, say, twelve years after retirement, your pension is paid to you at 100% for twelve years and then continues at 80% to your spouse for the remainder of his or her life.

You are probably aware that your pension has two components: a lifetime pension and a bridge pension payable only until 65 years of age. It is important to note that the survivor option and guarantee period apply to both portions up until you reach or would have reached 65 and only to the lifetime portion after age 65. In other words, your guaranteed pension and the enhanced survivor pension are also integrated with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

Who pays for these benefits?

You may be wondering who pays for these increased benefits. The member pays for the selected option by accepting a reduced pension at retirement. The actual amount of reduction is determined for each individual, based on his or her age at retirement and the spouse's age. Generally speaking, the reduction should be less than 5%.

Rules and Conditions

  1. You must make your choice within three months of retirement. You cannot choose an option several years before you retire. You will elect your option as part of your application for a pension. Nor can you elect an option after you retire.
  2. If you elect an option and die before your retirement, the election is still valid.
  3.  If you elect an enhanced survivor pension and your spouse dies before you retire, the election is cancelled. You then have up to one month after retirement to elect other options should you so wish.
  4. You may revoke an election at any time up to retirement.
  5. You may not revoke an election after retirement, regardless of circumstances. If you elect an enhanced survivor pension and your spouse dies before you, your pension remains at its reduced amount. It is not increased back to its original rate.
  6. You may only elect an enhanced survivor pension with respect to your spouse at the time of retirement. If you elect an enhanced spousal pension and your spouse predeceases you, any subsequent spouse would be entitled to 60% of your reduced pension.
  7. If you die leaving a spouse and dependant children, under the default (old) rules, your spouse gets 60% and each child gets 10%, provided that the total paid out is not more than 100%. If you elect an 80% survivor pension, that leaves 20% for dependant children; if you elect a 100% survivor pension, there would be no pension for dependant children.
  8. An enhanced survivor pension is paid for the lifetime of your spouse.
  9. You may designate a beneficiary to receive guarantee payments after your death if you have no spouse or dependant children.
  10. Payments to spouses and/or dependant children are made monthly, just like your pension. Payments to an estate or other beneficiaries are made in one lump sum.

 

To Apply

Before you can apply you must contact the Nova Scotia Pension Services Corporation to receive a personalized calculation sheet of your options. The application form and other pertinent forms may be found on our Forms page.

End Notes

The information presented here attempts to describe the new options in plain language. The official text is contained in Section 21A of the Teachers' Pension Regulations under the Teachers' Pension Act. In the event of a discrepancy between this information and the Regulations, the latter shall prevail.

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Designation of Beneficiary

A Designated Beneficiary is defined as any person or incorporated organization you designate to receive survivor benefits. These benefits would be paid in a lump sum payment to the beneficiary. A beneficiary may only be designated in the event that you have none of the qualified recipients listed in the “Payment Order of Priority” (below).

Payment Order of Priority

The following is the order of priority in which survivor benefits are paid:

  1. Spouse and children if any (payment to children is subject to age restrictions);
  2. If no spouse, the benefit is paid to children (subject to age restrictions);
  3. If no spouse or children, then to a related person (restricted to certain specified relatives) who was dependent on you by reason of mental or physical infirmity.

NOTE: Children who are automatically eligible to receive a survivor pension are:

  • Children up to 18 years of age; and
  • Children between 18 and 25 years of age if they are in full-time attendance at a recognized educational institution.
     

Please make special NOTE of the following:

  • To designate a beneficiary you must choose someone other than those listed above in the Payment Order of Priority. None of the above can be designated as a beneficiary as they are already automatically eligible to receive a pension upon your death in the order that they appear above.
  • The exception: Adult children who are older than 18 years of age and are not in full time attendance at a recognized educational institution may be designated as a beneficiary.
  • You are not required to designate a beneficiary, it is completely optional.  If you wish to, please contact the Nova Scotia Pension Services Corporation for more information or click here to go to the Forms page and download a Designation of Beneficiary Form.

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Cost of Living Adjustment (Indexing)

This link takes you to the Pensioners page and information on Cost of Living Adjustment.

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