Transferring Service From Another Pension Plan

You may have belonged to another registered pension plan before you joined the OMERS Plan. If you still have a benefit remaining in that plan, you may be able to transfer the service into the OMERS Plan, which will increase your OMERS Plan pension.

OMERS has transfer agreements with many other public sector pension plans and can accept transfers from private sector pension plans.

Transferring Your Previous Pension into OMERS

Changed jobs? If so, you may be able to take your pension with you by transferring it into OMERS. OMERS has transfer agreements with over 25 other pension plans in Canada.  The list includes hydro, hospital, teacher, provincial and municipal plans.

These agreements allow members to move their pension from plan to plan as they change jobs.

And even if we don't have an agreement with the plan, we may be able to set up a special one-time transfer agreement provided certain criteria are met.

If You Haven't Started the Transfer Process

Transfers have time limits – usually you must begin the process within three to six months of enrolling in OMERS. Time limits vary, depending on the agreement. So, apply as soon as possible. You will then receive details of your transfer and once you've had a chance to review it, you can make a final decision.

If you've already received a pension or refund or have transferred it to an RRSP, you are not eligible to transfer. You can only transfer if:

  • you're entitled to a benefit in the other plan
  • you have not begun receiving a pension based on the service to be transferred
  • the other pension plan will agree to the transfer.

Transfer Calculation

Almost all transfers are based on the actuarial value of your pension benefit. The calculation reflects the value of your pension based on credited service, salary, and other plan provisions. Plan differences, such as early retirement options, survivor benefits, and inflation protection, can make the value of your pension vary from plan to plan. This can result in a shortfall or excess.

Shortfalls

In the event of a shortfall, you will be given the chance to make up all or part of the difference. Shortfalls must be paid in a lump sum, within specified time limits, and may be paid in cash or from your RRSP, or a combination of both.

Example 1

Ling joins OMERS with 10 years of credited service and $40,000 available for transfer into OMERS from her previous plan. The same 10-year period in OMERS has a value of $50,000. If Ling decides not to pay for the shortfall, she will receive 8 years of credited service in OMERS. If she pays the $10,000 difference, she'll establish 10 years of credited service in OMERS.

Note: If you pay the shortfall from your RRSPs, the amount withdrawn will directly reduce a Past Service Pension Adjustment (PSPA) (see example 3).

Excesses

When the amount available for transfer in your previous pension plan is larger than the amount needed to establish equal credit in your new plan, you cannot be credited with the extra service. Each plan deals with excesses differently. Contact the plan you are transferring from for information on excesses.

Transfers, PAs and Your RRSP Room

Background

Since 1990, your employer has calculated the annual estimated value of lifetime pension you earned according to a formula established by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).The estimated value is called a Pension Adjustment (PA). Each year, your employer reports the PA to the CRA on your T4. The CRA uses the PA to determine your RRSP room in the following year. A PA reduces your RRSP room for the following year.

PSPAs

When you transfer your pension, the earned pension value in the two plans may differ and result in different PAs. Therefore, the calculated PAs for the service in the two pension plans must be compared.

If the total PAs for post-1989 service being transferred into OMERS exceed those reported while you were a member of the old plan, a PSPA must be certified by the CRA before the transfer can be finalized. We apply to the CRA for PSPA certification.

Example 2

 

PSPA CERTIFICATION NOT REQUIRED

 

Total PAs representing new service in OMERS
Total PAs reported by previous employer for the service being transferred
Difference

  $4,800
– $5,000
negative $200

Therefore, PSPA certification is not required.

 

Certification depends on how much RRSP room you have. If you've made maximum RRSP contributions over the years, you may be short of room. The CRA, however, allows up to negative $8,000 of RRSP room arising from a PSPA. In this case, you wouldn't be able to make RRSP contributions until earned RRSP room balances out the negative $8,000.

If you don't have enough room, you can withdraw RRSP assets to make room for the additional pension resulting from the transfer. (The CRA will contact you directly about this.)

 

Example 3

PSPA CERTIFICATION REQUIRED

Marcus is transferring his pension into OMERS.
Total PAs representing his new service in OMERS
Total PAs reported by his previous employer for the service being transferred
Difference

  $7,800
– $6,000
positive $1,800

OMERS must have a $1,800 PSPA certified by the CRA before his transfer can be final.

If Marcus has enough RRSP room, the CRA will certify his PSPA. If he doesn't have enough room, the CRA will contact him directly.

Paying shortfall with RRSPs wipes out his PSPA

Let's say he has a shortfall of 2 years of credited service, with a cost of $2,000. In other words, he has to pay $2,000 to establish the same amount of credited service in OMERS that he had in his previous plan. If he chooses to transfer funds from his RRSP to pay for his entire shortfall, the PSPA is wiped out.

PSPA
He uses RRSPs to pay shortfall
Difference

  $1,800
– $2,000
negative $200