When the Canada Pension Plan was put in place on January 1,1966, it was a relatively simple retirement savings model. Working Canadians started making contributions to the CPP when they turned 18 years of age and continued making those contributions throughout their working life. Those who had contributed could start receiving CPP on retirement, usually at the age of 65. Once an individual was receiving retirement benefits, he or she was not required (or allowed) to make further contributions to the CPP. The CPP retirement benefit for which that individual was eligible therefore could not increase (except for inflationary increases) after that point.
Retirement looks a lot different now than it did it 1966, and the Canada Pension Plan has evolved and changed to recognize those differences. What that means for the average Canadian is much more flexibility in determining how to structure both their contributions to the CPP and their receipt of CPP retirement benefits.
While greater flexibility in retirement income planning is always a good thing, having that flexibility comes at a price of greater complexity when it comes to determining which choices are the right ones in one’s particular circumstances. And one of the decisions which must be made, when it comes to CPP, is whether and when it might made sense to stop making CPP contributions.
The need to make that choice arises where a decision is made to continue to stay in the work force, whether on a part-time or full-time basis, even after beginning to receive CPP retirement benefits. While it has always been possible to work while receiving such benefits, it was, until 2012, not possible to make CPP contributions related to that work. A change made in that year, however, allowed individuals who continued to work while receiving the CPP retirement benefit to also continue to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan and, as a result, increase the amount of CPP retirement benefit they received each month. That benefit 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 CPT30, Election to Stop Contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, or Revocation of a Prior Election, which can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/forms/cpt30.html.
- A copy of that form must be given to the individual’s employer and the original sent to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 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 Form CPT30 to each.
- A decision to stop contributing can be changed, and contributions resumed. To make that change, the individual must complete section D of Form CPT30, give one copy of the form to his or her employer, and send the original to the CRA
- Individuals who are over the age of 70 and are still working cannot contribute to the CPP.
Overall, the effect of these new rules is that CPP retirement benefit recipients who are still working and who are under age 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 retirement benefits which they are entitled to will increase with each year’s additional contributions.
Where an individual makes CPP contributions while working and receiving CPP retirement benefits, the amount of any CPP PRB earned will automatically be calculated by the federal government, and the individual will be advised of any increase in that monthly CPP retirement benefit each year. The PRB will be paid to that individual automatically the year after the contributions are made, effective January 1 of every year. Since the federal government needs information about employer contributions made, the first annual payment of the PRB is usually issued in early April and includes a lump sum amount representing benefits back to January of that year. Thereafter, the PRB is paid monthly and the PRB amount is added to the individual’s CPP retirement benefit amount and issued as 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.