The CPP post-retirement benefit – deciding whether to continue contributions (August 2021)
One or two generations ago, retirement was an event. Typically, an individual would leave the work force completely at age 65, and begin collecting Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits along with, in many cases, a pension from an employer-sponsored registered pension plan.
Much has changed in the intervening decades and one of those changes is that retirement is now more often a process than an event. Many of those who have reached the traditional retirement age of 65 are receiving CPP and OAS benefits while at the same time continuing to participate in the work force. Some stay at an existing full-time job but more commonly, such individuals take up part-time employment, out of financial need or simply from a desire to stay active and engaged in the work force.
At one time, beginning to receive CPP retirement benefits meant that, even for those who chose to remain in the work force, no further CPP contributions were allowed. In 2012 that changed, with the introduction of the CPP Post-Retirement Benefit. The availability of that benefit means that those who are aged 65 to 70 and continue to work while receiving CPP retirement benefits must decide whether or not to continue making CPP contributions. Such individuals who make the choice to continue to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan will see an increase in the amount of CPP retirement benefit they receive each month for the remainder of their lives. That increase is the CPP post-retirement benefit or PRB.
The rules governing the PRB differ, depending on the age of the taxpayer. In a nutshell, an individual who has chosen to begin receiving the CPP retirement benefit but who continues to work will be subject to the following rules:
Individuals who are 60 to 65 years of age and continue to work are required to continue making CPP contributions.
Individuals who are 65 to 70 years of age and continue to work can choose not to make CPP contributions. To stop contributing, such an individual must fill out form. A copy of that form must be given to the individual’s employer and the original sent to the Canada Revenue Agency. An individual who has more than one employer must make the same choice (to continue to contribute or to cease contributions) for all employers and must provide a copy of the CPT30 form to each employer.
A decision to stop contributing can be changed, and contributions resumed, but only one such change can be made per calendar year. To make that change, the individual must complete section D of CRA form and give one copy of the form to his or her employer(s), and send the original to CRA
Individuals who are over the age of 70 and are still working cannot contribute to the CPP.
Overall, the effect of the rules is that CPP retirement benefit recipients who are still working and who are under aged 65, as well as those who are between 65 and 70 and choose not to opt out, will continue to make contributions to the CPP system and will continue therefore to earn new credits under that system. As a result, the amount of CPP retirement benefits which they are entitled to will increase with each successive year’s contributions.
Where an individual makes CPP contributions while working and receiving CPP retirement benefits, the amount of any CPP post-retirement benefit earned will automatically be calculated by the federal government (no application is required), and the individual will be advised of any increase in their monthly CPP retirement benefit each year. The PRB will be paid to that individual automatically the year after the contributions are made, effective January 1st of that second year. Since the federal government doesn’t have all of the information needed to make such calculations until T4s and T4 summaries are filed by the employer by the end of February, the first PRB payment is usually made in a lump sum amount, in the month of April. That lump sum amount represents the PRB payable from January to April. Thereafter, the PRB is paid monthly and combined with the individual’s usual CPP retirement benefit in a single payment.
While the rules governing the PRB can seem complex (and certainly the actuarial calculations are), the individual doesn’t have to concern him or herself with those technical details. For CPP retirement benefit recipients who are under age 65 or over 70, there is no decision to be made. For the former, CPP contributions will be automatically deducted from their paycheques and for the latter, no such contributions are allowed.
Individuals in the middle group – aged 65 to 70 will need to make a decision about whether it makes sense, in their individual circumstances, to continue making contributions to the CPP. Some assistance in making that decision is provided on the federal government website at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/cpp-post-retirement/benefit-amount.html, which shows the calculations which would apply for individuals of different ages and income levels.
More information on the PRB generally is also available on that website at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/cpp-post-retirement.html.