When an OMERS Member Dies Before Retirement

OMERS needs to be notified of the member's death as soon as possible to process the survivor benefit.

  • If the deceased member was still working for an OMERS employer, the employer notifies OMERS.
  • If the deceased member was not with an OMERS employer but had left their pension with OMERS (deferred it until a future date), contact OMERS Client Services. We will need to know:
    • the deceased member's name
    • social insurance number
    • the employer's name or group number
    • the date of death.

When an OMERS member dies before retirement, benefits are payable in this order of entitlement:

Relationship to you Type of Benefit
1. Your pre-retirement spouse is first in line for survivor benefits.

Survivor pension

  • 66 2/3% of the lifetime pension you earned to the date of death or to the date you left your OMERS employer;
  • plus a further 10% for each eligible dependent child, up to a total of 100% of the pension earned.

This pension:

  • is guaranteed for life (it does not stop if your spouse remarries);
  • indexed to inflation; 
  • does not include the OMERS bridge benefits; and
  • in the event the commuted value of the survivor pension is less than the member’s commuted value, the difference is reflected in the survivor pension payable.

- or -

Cash refund or transfer

The cash refund or transfer to a non-locked-in registered retirement savings arrangement is paid in lump sum and equals:

  • the commuted value of the pension earned since January 1, 1987;
  • plus any contributions you made before 1987, plus interest to the date of your death.

2. If there is no pre-retirement spouse a pension will be paid to any eligible dependent children for as long as they are eligible.

Children's pension

  • 66 2/3% of the lifetime pension you earned to the date of death or the date you left your OMERS employer.

This pension:

  • is divided equally among the eligible children and is paid to, or on behalf of, each child (when a child is no longer eligible, the benefit is redistributed among your remaining eligible children);
  • is indexed to inflation; and
  • does not include the OMERS bridge benefit.

3. If there is no pre-retirement spouse or eligible dependent children, your designated beneficiary(ies) on file may be entitled to a cash refund. (To register a beneficiary, you must complete a paper Beneficiary designation - Form 206.)

The cash refund is paid in a lump sum and equals:

  • the commuted value of the pension you earned since January 1, 1987;
  • plus any contributions you made before 1987, plus interest to the date of your death.
4. If there is no retirement-date spouse, post-retirement date spouse, eligible dependent children or designated beneficiaries, the cash refund of the pension may be paid to your estate.

See the description in #3.

In the case of benefits for a minor child, benefits of $10,000 or less can be paid to the adult who has custody of the child; benefits over $10,000 are subject to Guardianship of Property rules. The benefit is payable for the period that the child is eligible.

Additional refunds

In addition to OMERS survivor benefits, the following refunds may be payable in the event of death before retirement.

50% Rule refund

If your contributions plus interest from January 1, 1987 to the date of death is greater than 50% of the commuted value of the pension earned since 1987, OMERS will refund any excess contributions to your designated beneficiary(ies) or, if none, to your estate.

Special refund

When the commuted value of your OMERS Plan pension is greater than the amount needed to fund the survivor benefit for your eligible dependent child(ren), the difference is paid as an OMERS Plan special refund. It is paid to your living designated beneficiaries on file or, if none, to your estate.

Calculating the survivor pension

The survivor's pension is based on the lifetime pension the member earned to the date of death or to the date they left their OMERS employer. The survivor's pension does not include the OMERS bridge benefit. See the OMERS Plan Pension Formula in the Member Handbook for more about how the member's lifetime pension is calculated.