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1 Member Handbook

2 Are you online? Sign up to mypensionplan and get your pension information online, anytime. Go Green! Help the environment and eliminate paper waste by registering on mypensionplan. We ll notify you by when your member annual statement and other member publications are ready. Registration is quick and easy! mypensionplan features: Update your contact and beneficiary information View your most recent member annual statement View your salary, service and contributions Use calculators to estimate future pension benefits Read member newsletters and other publications Register for one-on-one member information sessions To register go to and click on mypensionplan. For registration you will need: The last three digits of your Social Insurance Number Your member ID (on your member annual statement, welcome letter or options package) Your postal code/zip To create verification questions for enhanced security All active and deferred members are eligible to register on mypensionplan. We are committed to keeping your information confidential by using the highest level of security available.

3 Contents Welcome 3 Governance of LAPP 3 Services Provided to Members 4 Membership 5 How Much Do You Contribute? 5 What is Your Benefit? 6 How Can You Increase Your Benefit? 7 Options if You Leave Before Retiring 9 When Can You Retire? 11 How is Your Pension Calculated? 12 Cost-of-Living Adjustments 12 What are Your Pension Options? 13 Coordinating Your Pension with CPP and OAS 15 Working as a Retiree 15 Disability Benefits 15 Death Before Retirement 16 Marital Breakdown 17 Appealing Decisions About Your Pension 17 Glossary 18 1

4 Using this handbook This booklet provides a brief overview of your choices and benefits, and other information about the pension plan. Please read it carefully so you can take full advantage of your membership in the Plan. Words appearing in bold are defined in the Glossary on page 18. i When there is an information sheet (available on on one of the topics in this handbook, this symbol will appear. When there is a time limit on a feature of the Plan, this symbol will appear. Note: this handbook provides general information only. Should anything in this handbook conflict with the governing legislation, the legislation will apply. 2

5 Welcome! The Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) was established 50 years ago for employees of local authorities in Alberta. The employers include organizations from the health care sector, cities, towns, villages, municipal districts, colleges, school boards and other public sector organizations. LAPP is a defined benefit plan, which means you will receive a pension based on your salary and years of service. It is financed by member and employer contributions and by investment earnings. This type of pension plan has many advantages for members. It enables you to plan for your retirement because you can estimate your future pension income. The pension plan provides you with a specified lifetime income regardless of market conditions and how long you live. LAPP is an important part of your overall retirement savings. Even if you are many years away from retiring, there may be choices available to you now that will impact your future benefits. Governance of LAPP Alberta s President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance is the legal trustee and administrator of the Plan, which is governed by a 14-member Board of Trustees. The trustees are nominated by employees, employers, retirees and government. As legal trustees, the minister delegates different functions of the Plan as follows: Alberta Local Authorities Pension Plan Corporation (ALAPP) is responsible for strategic guidance and Board support; Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS) is responsible for benefit administration; and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) is responsible for investment management. 3

6 Services Provided to Members We want you to understand how your pension works, whether you are a new member, a mid-career member or a soon-to-be retired member. If you have questions about the Plan, contact the Member Services Centre. Please have your LAPP member ID ready when you contact us. Your member ID is located on your member annual statement. Member Services Centre LAPP c/o Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS) 5103 Windermere Blvd. SW Edmonton, AB T6W 0S LAPP (5277) Website and Publications Publications available to members can be found in the Members section of the LAPP website ( In addition to annual reports and information sheets, you will find member newsletters and the member handbook. Members also receive an annual statement summarizing pension contributions and service. mypensionplan mypensionplan is a secure website for members to: Go green, eliminate paper waste, and receive publications online Update contact and beneficiary information View most recent member annual statement View salary, service and contributions Use calculators to estimate future pension benefits Read member newsletters and other publications Register for one-on-one member information sessions 4

7 Membership If you re a full-time continuous employee (regularly scheduled hours of at least 30 hours per week), you automatically become a member of the Plan as soon as you start your employment, unless your employer delays your entry into the Plan for up to one year during a probationary period. If you re employed on a full-time basis for a predetermined period, you may participate if your employer has a policy to enrol you. If you re employed on a part-time basis (regularly scheduled hours of at least 14 hours per week), you may participate depending on your employer s policy. If you re employed with one employer and working in more than one position, your total hours worked may be combined to determine your pension eligibility. Changes effective September 1, 2011: 1. For employees working at least 30 regularly scheduled hours per week on a continuous basis, participation is mandatory. To determine if this criteria is met, an employer must include all regularly scheduled hours in all continuous positions with that employer. 2. For all other employees working at least 14 regularly scheduled hours per week, participation is by employer policy. To determine eligibility under the policy, an employer must include all regularly scheduled hours in all positions with that employer. How Much do You Contribute? Your contributions to LAPP are based on a percentage of your pensionable salary and are made through payroll deduction. Your employer s contribution rate is one per cent more than yours. Both your contributions and your employer s go directly to the LAPP fund. The fund is invested by LAPP s investment manager, AIMCo. The Board of Trustees sets benchmarks and policies to guide the investments. Visit Members/Contribution Rates at to view current contribution rates. 5

8 Your Income Tax Treatment Your contributions to LAPP are tax deductible. Each year your pension contributions and your pension adjustment (PA) are reported on your T4 slip. Your PA is used to determine the maximum amount you can contribute to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). The federal government will advise you each year of the maximum RRSP contribution you can make. What is Your Benefit? LAPP s obligation is to pay a stated benefit to you that depends on your pensionable salary and length of pensionable service. Your benefit is defined, regardless of how much money is in the pension fund. Pensionable service refers to the service credited to you in the pension plan you contribute to. Your future pension amount will be based on your number of years of pensionable service and your pensionable salary. The maximum pensionable service you can accumulate is 35 years. However, earnings after 35 years will continue to be recognized for benefit calculation purposes. The minimum length of LAPP membership you need to qualify for a pension is two years. If you are contributing to LAPP after December 31, 2003, and turn age 65, you automatically qualify for a pension even if you do not have two years of membership. LAPP Benefit LAPP pays a 1.4 per cent benefit on the highest five-year average pensionable salary times years of service up to the average yearly maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE). This is a set maximum amount of earnings on which you can contribute to the Plan. LAPP pays a 2 per cent benefit on the highest five-year average pensionable salary times years of service over the average YMPE up to the yearly maximum allowed under the Income Tax Act. 6

9 How Can You Increase Your Benefit? You may be able to increase your future benefits by increasing your length of pensionable service through the following methods: Note: the word service refers to pensionable service throughout this booklet. 1. Optional Service You may increase your future benefits by buying optional service. Your employer s human resources staff will be able to tell you which types of employment are eligible. Examples could include: previous employment with your current employer; previous employment with an organization in Canada; previous employment with another employer who participates in LAPP; or contributory service under another pension plan if a reciprocal transfer agreement exists. Visit our online Buying Back Service Estimator at to calculate an estimate of the cost to buy your optional service, or you can apply through your employer s human resources office. Your contributions for optional service are tax deductible within the maximum limits set under the Income Tax Act. 2. Transferring Between Pension Plans Reciprocal transfer agreements may exist with some other pension plans that allow you to transfer your service from a previous employer to LAPP or from LAPP to a new employer. Each pension plan has its own benefit formula and contribution rates. When you transfer pensionable service to a new plan, that plan calculates the value of that service according to its own benefit provisions. As such, you may be required to pay additional funds to receive full credit for your service. 7

10 3. Leaves of Absence If you take a leave without salary, you may add that period of i leave to your pensionable service. You have the option of either making pension contributions while on leave without salary, or waiting until you return to purchase that leave. If you take a leave with partial salary, you are required to make full pension contributions while on leave. Other periods of leave may be eligible for purchase as pensionable service (provided your employer allows for such leaves). For instance, members can make pension contributions for three years of parental leave in addition to their maximum five years of non-parental leave, provided the parental leave occurs after June 30, After returning from your leave, you must make sure your application to purchase your leave is received by LAPP before April 30 for any leave ending in the previous year. If you end your employment or change to a non-participating position, you must apply within 30 days of the day you stop contributing. Visit our Buying Back Service Estimator under Members/Pension Estimators at to calculate an estimate of the cost to buy your optional service. 8

11 Options if You Leave Before Retiring When you terminate or change to a non-participating position, you stop participating in LAPP. As pension benefits may be a major source of your retirement income, you should carefully consider each of the following options before making your decision. With Fewer Than Two Years of LAPP Membership If you have fewer than two years of LAPP membership, you are not eligible to receive a pension.* i You can do any one of the following: Transfer your pension entitlements to purchase service under your new pension plan if a reciprocal transfer agreement exists. Have your contributions (not your employer s), with interest, transferred to an RRSP in your name. No income tax is withheld. Take a refund of your contributions (not your employer s) with interest. Income tax will be withheld. If you end your employment or change employment status so that you no longer contribute to LAPP, you will automatically receive a Benefit Options Package. You need to make a benefit choice within 90 days of the date of your Benefit Options Package. If APS, the Plan s administrator, has not received your choice within this timeframe, your contributions with interest (less income tax withholdings) will automatically be sent to you by cheque. * If you are 65 years of age and end employment or change employment status so you no longer contribute to LAPP, you are eligible to receive a pension even if you don t have two years of LAPP membership. 9

12 With Two or More Years of LAPP Membership With two years of LAPP membership you become vested. This i means you are eligible to receive a pension at retirement or a disability pension if you qualify. If you are under 55 at retirement and you leave LAPP before retirement, you are eligible to receive the value of the pension you have earned on your service. In this case, these are your options: Leave your pension entitlements with LAPP until you decide which of the above options you want. If you start contributing to the Plan again, your new service will be added to your previous service. Transfer your pension entitlements to purchase service toward your new pension plan if a reciprocal transfer agreement exists. Choose a pension to start any time between 55 and the end of the year in which you turn 71 years of age (a deferred pension ). Have the commuted value of your pension transferred to a Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA) in your name and receive or transfer any excess contributions. If you are 55 or older at retirement, you have the following options: Receive an immediate monthly pension*. Postpone your pension until any time up to the end of the year in which you turn age 71. Transfer your pension entitlements to purchase service toward your new pension plan if a reciprocal transfer agreement exists. If your pension earned on your service is lower than an amount established annually under LAPP rules, you will be offered an opportunity to have the value of the pension paid as a single payment. This payment can be paid directly to you by cheque (income tax will be withheld), or transferred to your non-locked in RRSP (income tax will not be withheld). * If you choose to receive your pension before you turn 65, or before your age and years of service add up to 85, your pension will be reduced. (See Reduced Pension on page 11.) 10

13 When Can You Retire? Unreduced Pension You can retire with an unreduced pension starting at age 65. You must start your pension by December 31 of the year you turn 71. i You can receive an unreduced pension as early as age 55 if you have 85 points. You reach 85 points when your years of service plus your age total at least 85. For example, if you are 55 with 30 years of service, you are eligible to retire with an unreduced pension ( = 85). The same would apply to a 56-year-old with 29 years of service, a 57-year-old with 28 years of service, and so on. Reduced Pension You can retire any time after you reach age 55 if you have at least two years of LAPP membership. Your pension will be reduced by three per cent based on the number of years your age plus years of service is short of 85 points. This reduction will be based on the number of years your age is short of age 65, or on the number by which your age plus years of service is short of 85 points, whichever is lower, and is prorated for partial years. How is Your Pension Calculated? The amount of your pension is based on your length of service and the average of your five highest consecutive years of pensionable salary (highest average salary). Use the calculators on mypensionplan to estimate future pension benefits. LAPP has a salary cap on post-1991 service which increases annually in relation to the federal tax rules. This may affect the amount you contribute and the pension benefit you receive. 11

14 Cost-of-Living Adjustments Every year your pension will increase at a rate of 60 per cent of the change in the Alberta Consumer Price Index (ACPI). This is a significant feature of your pension plan. Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) increases are calculated by taking the average of the ACPI during a 12-month period (November to October), and comparing it to the immediate previous year s 12-month average. Note: the ACPI is a weighted average of the cost of a basket of goods and services that are normally purchased by Alberta households. This includes things such as clothing, food, housing, gasoline, health and personal care, recreation, and education. Difference between pension partner and beneficiary Your pension partner is automatically the recipient of your pension death benefits. This could be your legally married spouse or common law partner. A pension partner may waive their rights to your pension death benefits before or after retirement by signing the prescribed waiver form. Once pension is in pay, the pension partner cannot decide to waive their rights. If you pass away without a pension partner, your beneficiary is the person(s) you name to receive a benefit if you die before retirement or who will receive pension payments for the remainder of a guaranteed term if you die after retirement. This can be one or more people, or even a charitable organization. If you do not have a pension partner, and have not named a beneficiary, your estate is your beneficiary. 12

15 What are Your Pension Options? i When you retire, you can choose from a selection of pension options including normal, guaranteed-term, single-life or jointlife pensions. All pensions are paid for your lifetime, and all are based on the same value. The monthly payments vary because of differences in the optional features. Except for the normal pension, all pensions will be adjusted to take into account factors such as the guaranteed period and joint-life provisions based on the age of your pension partner. Normal Pension A normal pension is the basic pension offered under the Plan and is guaranteed for your lifetime or for five years, whichever is longer. If you die before the five-year term is over, the pension will be paid to your beneficiary for the remainder of the five years. If you do not have a beneficiary, your estate will receive the lump sum equivalent of the value of the remaining term. Guaranteed-Term Pension You can choose a pension guaranteed for either 10 or 15 years. Guaranteed-term pensions are paid for your lifetime. But if you die before your guaranteed term of 10 or 15 years has expired, your pension is paid to your beneficiary for the remainder of the term. (For example, if you choose a 10-year guaranteed-term pension and die four years later, the pension will be paid to your beneficiary for a further six years.) If you outlive the guaranteed period, the pension will continue to be paid until your death. Joint-Life Pension A joint-life pension is paid as long as either you or your nominee (pension partner or qualified dependent) continues to live. If you choose a joint-life not-reduced pension, on your death your nominee will be paid the same amount you would have been paid for as long as your nominee lives. 13

16 If you choose a joint-life reduced-by-one-third pension, it will pay the pension for as long as you and your nominee live, but the pension to the survivor will be reduced by one-third after your death or the death of your nominee. Joint-life pensions are guaranteed for a five-year term. This means if both you and your nominee die before the five-year term is over, your pension is paid to your designated beneficiary for the remainder of the five-year term. The monthly pension payment for a joint-life pension is determined by your age and the age of your nominee. Single-Life Pension A single-life pension is paid for your lifetime only and stops at the time of your death, regardless of the number of payments made. Pension Partner Protection The pension plan ensures your pension partner is entitled to benefits when you die. If you have a pension partner at the time your pension commences, you must select a joint-life pension with your pension partner as the nominee. You must choose either a joint-life not-reduced, or a joint-life reduced-by-one-third pension, each with a five-year guarantee. If your pension partner signs a waiver form giving up his or her entitlement to a joint-life pension, you can choose one of the other pension options. 14

17 Coordinating Your Pension with CPP and OAS Note: you should obtain detailed information from LAPP or your employer on the potential effect of selecting Pension Coordination before you decide to choose this option. i Coordination is a further option for members who retire before age 65. With coordination, you can temporarily increase your monthly payments from the pension plan. At age 65, your payments from LAPP are reduced and remain reduced for as long as the pension is paid to you. Working as a Retiree i If you are working after you retire, you will continue to receive your pension from LAPP. If you work while receiving your LAPP pension and your employer is a LAPP employer, you will not be able to make further contributions to LAPP and your employer will not contribute on your behalf. However, if you work for an employer under another pension plan, you may be required to contribute to their plan. Let your LAPP employer know if you are receiving a pension from LAPP so contributions are not deducted from your pay. i Disability Benefits You may be eligible for a disability pension if you are incapable of performing the regular duties of your employment. Please contact your employer for further information. 15

18 Death Before Retirement If you have a pension partner and die before retirement, your i pension partner is automatically your beneficiary (unless they have signed a pension partner waiver of pre-pension commencement death benefit form). If you do not have a pension partner, benefits are paid to your named beneficiary or, if none, your estate. If you die with fewer than two years of LAPP membership, your pension partner or beneficiary will receive a one-time payment of your contributions (not your employer s) and interest. If you die with two or more years of LAPP membership, your pension partner can choose either an immediate pension or a one-time payment. A one-time payment must be transferred to the pension partner s Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA). Beneficiaries other than a pension partner will receive a one-time payment; however, this one-time payment cannot be transferred to a LIRA, but must be taken as a cash payment (with income tax withheld). 16

19 Marital Breakdown If you are currently undergoing a marital breakdown, your pension may be subject to a division between you and your ex-spouse. For a pension to be divided, a Matrimonial Property Order (MPO) must be filed with APS. You should consult your legal counsel about filing a MPO and the division of your pension. Under the Matrimonial Property Act, a MPO can only be obtained in respect of a legal marriage. A relationship with a pension partner outside of a legal marriage cannot have a MPO in relation to it. In certain circumstances, the Plan rules allow the courts to direct the Plan administrator to divide the pension and make a one-time payment to the non-member ex-spouse without having to wait for the member to become eligible for a benefit. If you are a LAPP member going through a marital breakdown, your legal counsel will take these rules into account when working on your matrimonial property settlement. Appealing Decisions About Your Pension If you disagree with a decision made by the Plan s administrator, i APS, about your pension, contact the Member Services Centre for a full explanation: Toll-free in Canada: LAPP (5277) If you are not satisfied with the response to your initial inquiry, you can request an administrative review. This request should be made in writing within 30 days from the date you received a written response to your initial inquiry. If, after the administrative review, you feel your rights have not been recognized, you can request an appeal of the administrative review to the LAPP Board of Trustees. While the Board can make a final decision, it can only provide benefits based on the legislation. A request for an appeal must be made in writing within 60 days of the administrative review. 17

20 Glossary Average YMPE (Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings) The Canada Pension Plan sets a maximum amount of earnings on which you can contribute to that plan. This maximum is called the Year s Maximum Pensionable Earnings. The average YMPE is determined by taking the YMPE of the coinciding years of your five highest pensionable salaries. Your employer or LAPP can tell you the amount of the current or past years YMPEs. Beneficiary Your pension partner is automatically your beneficiary if you die before retirement (unless they have signed a pre-pension commencement death waiver). If you do not have a pension partner (or they have signed a pre-pension commencement death waiver), the beneficiary is the person(s) you name to receive (a) a benefit if you die before retirement, or (b) the pension payments for the remainder of a guaranteed term if you die after retirement. If you do not have a pension partner or a named beneficiary, your estate is your beneficiary. Commuted Value (CV) The amount of money payable as a one-time payment that is calculated to be equal in value to your future pension payments. Diversified Portfolio The pension plan fund is invested in common stocks (both Canadian and international), bonds, mortgages, and real estate and is managed by the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo). Excess Contributions A member s contributions and interest cannot fund more than 50 per cent of the value of a pension. Excess contributions is the amount of member contributions and interest that exceeds 50 per cent of the value of the benefit being paid. Contributions paid and service credited for optional service are not included when calculating excess contributions. LAPP Membership The period of time in calendar days between the commencement of contributions with an employer under LAPP and termination of LAPP contributions. 18

21 Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA) A type of RRSP that is locked-in and can be withdrawn for a pension as early as age 50. It must then be used to provide a regular pension income. Most financial institutions offer LIRAs from which you can choose the one that best meets your needs. Long-Term Disability Income Continuance Plan (LTDI) A type of disability insurance offered by an employer for employees who become unable to perform their normal work because of a physical or mental disability. If the LTDI plan is filed by the employer and approved by APS, the period of LTDI coverage is included as service for pension purposes. Matrimonial Property Order (MPO) If a marriage ends, the Court is likely to treat the pension asset as one of the items to be considered when property is divided. A Matrimonial Property Order is a legal and binding Court Order. Nominee (usually your Pension Partner) The person you name to receive your joint-life pension if you die first. If you have a pension partner on the effective date of your pension, the nominee must be your pension partner unless they sign a waiver before pension commencement. The nominee must qualify under the income tax rules at pension commencement. Pension Partner A pension partner means: (i) a person who, at the relevant time, was married to a participant or former participant and had not been living separate and apart from him or her for 3 or more consecutive years, or (ii) if there is no person to whom subclause (i) applies, a person who, as at and up to the relevant time, had lived with the participant or former participant in conjugal relationship (A) for a continuous period of at least 3 years, or (B) of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoption. For the purposes of this definition, persons are living separate and apart (a) if they are living apart and either of them has the intention to live separate and apart from each other, or (b) if, before the relevant time, (i) they had been living separate and apart for any period, and (ii) that period was interrupted or terminated by reason only that either of them became incapable of continuing to live separate and apart or of forming or having the intention to continue to live separate and apart of that person s own volition, and the separation would probably have continued if that person had not become so incapable. 19

22 Pensionable Salary Refers to basic pay for the performance of regular duties. Variable pay is pensionable to certain limits. Pensionable salary does not include earnings such as overtime pay. Pensionable Service (Service) Your years of service during which you contribute to the pension plan, plus service recognized from a transfer or purchase of optional service. The maximum is 35 years. Service will be pro-rated if you work on less than a full-time basis. Pre-pension Commencement Death Waiver The pension partner may waive their right to a lifetime pension by completing the Pension Partner Waiver of Pre-Pension Commencement Death Benefit. This allows the pension to be paid to the beneficiary or beneficiaries on file with APS instead of the pension partner. This waiver can be completed by the pension partner any time before pension commencement but it may only be rescinded by the pension partner prior to the member s death. Reciprocal Transfer Agreement An agreement negotiated with another pension plan that allows members to transfer their service when they move between plans. Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) A type of tax-deferred investment that is set up to hold and invest your savings until you retire. Most can be withdrawn at any time, but you will be taxed on the amount withdrawn. Vested You become vested when you have two years of LAPP membership. Vesting means you are eligible to receive a pension at retirement, or, if you leave the Plan before age 55, you are eligible to receive the commuted value of the pension you have earned. You may also become vested with less than two years of membership if you turn age 65. YMPE (Year s Maximum Pensionable Earnings) The Canada Pension Plan sets a maximum amount of earnings on which you can contribute to that plan. This maximum is called the Year s Maximum Pensionable Earnings. Your employer or LAPP can tell you the amount of the current or past years YMPE. 20

23 21

24 For information about your pension plan contact: LAPP c/o Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APS) 5103 Windermere Blvd. SW Edmonton, AB T6W 0S9 Toll-free: LAPP (5277) Fax: Local Authorities Pension Plan Executive Offices P.O. Box 1315 Edmonton, AB T5J 2M8 Phone: Fax: Print date: December 2014 Printed on 50% recycled and 15% post consumer waste

Are you online? Sign up to mypensionplan and get your pension information online, anytime.

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