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Pension Plan Summary

Overview of Dalhousie's Employee Pension Plan

This unofficial summary is intended to help Dalhousie employees understand the main features of the Dalhousie University Employee Pension Plan. It does not cover all features of the Pension Plan and is for information purposes only.

Employees desiring greater detail should refer to the complete Dalhousie University Pension Plan [PDF-190kb] and an Amendment effective 1 July 2012 [PDF-443kb] (hard copies available from Human Resources). The actual Plan text shall be used as the basis for making any official interpretations or determinations regarding the requirements of the Plan or pension benefits.

Effective date of the Plan

Contributions to this Plan (and eligibility for pension benefits) commenced effective September 1, 1959.

Eligibility and membership

Up to June 30, 1996 all full-time employees and regular part-time employees of Dalhousie University are eligible to join the Plan upon completion of at least 75 days of employment with the University. After June 30, 1996 eligibility for membership occurs at the date of employment. 

Statutory part-time employees may elect to join the Plan following completion of two consecutive calendar years of employment during which, in each of the calendar years, their earnings were at least 35% of the Canada Pension Plan YMPE, or their hours worked were at least 700.

Normal retirement date

The normal retirement date of all employees is the July 1st immediately following attainment of age 65 except for those members who commenced on full-time staff prior to July 1, 1964. In the latter case, normal retirement date is the first day of September immediately following the attainment of age 65.

Early retirement

A member who has attained age 55, and has completed at least 2 years of membership in the Plan may retire at any time prior to attainment of his or her normal retirement age. In these circumstances, the member would receive a reduced pension in accordance with the following table:

Full Years Prior to Age 65 Early Retirement Adjustment Factor
 

For benefits earned
after June 30, 2004

For benefits earned up
to June 30, 2004

10

.63

.76

9

.66

.80

8

.69

.84

7

.72

.88

6

.75

.92

5

.78

.95

4

.81

.98

3

.85

1.00

2

.90

1.00

1

.95

1.00

These adjustment factors are interpolated where retirement occurs between anniversary dates. Under Phase Three of the Surplus Use Agreement (1996), these reduction factors are applicable prior to exact age 65 instead of the normal retirement date.

Partial early retirement and reduced workload arrangements

Any regular full-time staff member may apply for partial early retirement through an approved reduced workload arrangement provided that he or she has completed at least three years of Continuous full-time or regular part-time employment since last date of hire. A Reduced Workload Period shall be for a fixed term. Participation in and approval of such RWA is by mutual consent, and is not extended as a matter of right.

In respect of any Member working under an RWA, the following shall apply:

  1. The calculation of the Member’s pension benefit shall be based on the Member’s Nominal Salary (pre-RWA Salary with adjustments for salary increases) rather than the actual Salary received by the Member under RWA,
  2. The Member will make pension contributions through payroll deduction based on the actual Salary received during the period rather than the Member’s Nominal Salary on which the benefits are based, and
  3. The University will pay contributions on behalf of the Member in respect of the difference between the Member’s actual Salary and Nominal Salary as well as its contributions on the Nominal Salary.

This provision does not mean that a member can retire and commence receipt of pension benefits and continue to accrue benefits simultaneously. Such action is not permitted.

Deferment of pension benefits

This section is currently under review.

Pension at normal retirement

The pension provided under this Plan is expressed as a certain percentage of the average of the best three years of remuneration received by the member.

For the total period of membership in the Plan, the percentage applicable is 2% multiplied by the number of years of participation during that period.

The annual amount of lifetime pension payable to members, excluding any benefits derived from the member’s AVCs, for the calendar year in which these benefits commence to be paid shall not exceed the product of:

  1. A. the number of years of Pensionable Service of the Member which, when combined with the Member’s Pensionable Service prior to January 1, 1992, if any, will not exceed 35 years, and
  2. The lesser of:
    1. 1/9 of the Money Purchase Limit in the calendar year in which benefits commence, and
    2. 2% of the average of Member’s best three consecutive years of Compensation in respect of the Employer.

Type of pension

Pensions are payable throughout the lifetime of a Pensioner.  For service up to June 30, 2004, the minimum guaranteed number of payments for single members or for married members electing a single life form of pension is 120 months. For married members electing a joint form of pension, the normal form of pension is a lifetime pension payable to the member and spouse jointly. The benefit is payable at a rate reduced by one third to the spouse should the spouse survive the member. If the spouse is younger than the member by more than 60 months, the benefit is reduced in consideration of the actual age of the spouse to be actuarially equivalent to the benefit payable to a member whose spouse is 60 months younger. No fewer than the member by more than 60 monthly payments shall be paid in any event.

For service from July 1, 2004, the normal form of pension for all members is a lifetime pension payable to the member, with a guarantee that no fewer than 84 payments shall be paid in any event.

A member with a spouse is required to receive a pension which includes a 60% survivor’s pension; such pension being the actuarial equivalent of the pension otherwise payable in the normal form. Other optional forms of pension are available on an actuarial equivalent basis subject to signature of a waiver form by member and spouse.

Adjustment to pensions in course of payment

Effective July 1, 1982, the decision was made to discontinue the previous policy of purchasing immediate annuities from the life insurance companies in respect of retiring employees. Accordingly, a separate Retirees’ Trust Fund has been established and, in respect of employees retiring on or after July 1, 1982, pension payments are being made directly from this Retirees’ Trust Fund. At the time of retirement, a capital sum is transferred from the Pension Trust Fund into the Retirees’ Trust Fund in respect of each retiring employee; the amount of this transfer being based on the actuarial mortality and interest assumptions used in the most recent actuarial valuation of this Pension Plan.

The three year average investment yield on the Retirees’ Trust Fund in excess of the PRIA will be used to fund indexing of pensions in the manner described below, subject to a “hold back” as a provision against life expectancy variations and other contingencies of 0.1% for Members who retired prior to June 30 1994, 0.4% for Members who retired on or after June 30 1994 but before June 30 1996 and 0.5% for Members who retired on or after June 30 1996. In addition, accumulated pension increases shall not exceed corresponding accumulated increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Notwithstanding the above, in the event that the applicable three-year average investment yield on the Retirees’ Trust Fund does not exceed the PRIA by the “hold back” percentages, then there shall be no adjustment to pensions in course of payment for that year except as may be provided with surplus funds. Furthermore, in these circumstances, there will be a corresponding reduction in the rate of increase of pensions in the following year or years of such amount, or amounts that would be required to bring pensions in course of payment to the same level that would apply if negative adjustments had been made in those years when the three-year average investment yield on the Retirees’ Trust Fund did not exceed the PRIA by the “hold back” percentages.

The first such increase took effect as of January 1, 1984, and further increases after that date take place on each subsequent January 1. 

Death benefits before retirement

Upon death prior to retirement, a return is made of the member’s contributions, plus interest, together with any vested entitlement in the University’s basic (matching) contributions, plus interest. Should death occur after a member has elected a deferred retirement pension, the commuted value of the original pension (plus interest thereon) would be paid to the member’s beneficiary.

Disability benefit

In the event that a member becomes totally and permanently disabled prior to normal retirement date, and becomes eligible to receive benefits under the University’s Long Term Disability Plan, provision is made for the continuation of joint contributions to the Pension Plan while the member is receiving LTD Benefits until normal retirement age. At that time, the disability benefit ceases, and a pension will become payable under this Plan with full credit being given both for years of active participation and for years when the member continued to contribute to the Plan while disabled.

Termination of employment

Termination before vesting

In the event that the member has less than one year of plan membership, the benefit available upon termination of employment is limited to a refund of his or her contributions accumulated with interest.

Vesting in employer contributions

After the employee has completed one year in the Plan, he or she is also entitled to receive the vested portion of the University’s basic (matching) contributions made on the member’s behalf (also with compounded interest on the same basis as the member’s own contributions). Vesting in the University’s contributions is at the rate of 8.33% for each month of pensionable service from the 13th month with full vesting being achieved upon completion of 24 months of pensionable service.

Statutory benefit vesting and locking-in

After 10 years of service, and the attainment of age 45, Provincial laws require full benefit vesting and locking-in (at least 75%) of the pension benefits earned in respect of service between January 1, 1977 and December 31, 1987. In this situation, unless the member elects a portability option (see below) the member’s contributions remain in the Pension Fund, and the member would be entitled, at normal retirement date, to a pension calculated in the manner described above (Pension at Normal Retirement) but taking into account only years of service and remuneration up to the date of termination. In respect of service on and after January 1, 1988, the pension benefits earned  by the member become subject to full statutory benefit vesting upon completion of two years membership in the Plan (including membership before January 1, 1988). Such benefits are fully locked in subject to the portability options described below. Contributions in respect of service before 1977 may also be left in the Fund (at the member’s option) to provide additional pension of the same type.

Portability

The Plan also provides for portability with other pension plans (where a reciprocal agreement is in force) or, as an alternative, through the transfer of the termination entitlement to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan. In all such cases, locking-in applies in accordance with the provisions of the Pension Benefits Act of Nova Scotia.

Required contributions

By members: 4.65% of the first $5,000 of annual salary plus 6.15% of annual salary in excess of $5,000 (where the salary is ultimately limited to that which would produce a pension entitlement in the year equal to the maximum pension for that year according to the provisions of the Income Tax Act)

By the university: the amount required to meet the cost of all benefits not met by the members’ required contributions.

Interest

Any refund of contributions, payable either to a member or his or her estate, includes interest credited each year from the 1st of October at a rate based on the average investment return during the three-year period ending on the most recent June 30th. In the calculation of this three-year average, a separate calculation is made in respect of each individual year and the investment return includes all dividends, interest, net rentals, realized and unrealized capital gains (net of capital losses) reduced by miscellaneous costs and administrative expenses of the Fund.

[1] The reference to “pension benefits earned” means the actual amount of pension a member would start to receive each year beginning at normal retirement age. Entitlement to such benefits does not, of itself, entitle a member to vesting in matching contributions made by the university. Such contribution vesting is contingent upon meeting the plan membership requirements set out above.