Lost and found: What it costs when you lose track of your pension plan

Don’t let your retirement savings slip away
Stay connected with your pension plan and keep good records

Ontario’s financial services regulator says there are thousands of pension plan members in the province who have lost track of their pension plan, which is estimated to equal over $3 billion in benefits. Losing track of a pension plan can happen when, for example, plan members earn a small benefit at the start of their career and then after a year or two, change employers and forget about their entitlement.

“It’s important for those who have a workplace pension to keep good records and ensure they stay connected with their employer or former employer,” said Andrew Fung, Acting EVP for Pensions at the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA). “It’s not uncommon for people to change jobs many times during their careers. So, when it comes time to collect your pension benefits, you want to make sure your contact information is current, and your administrator can find you.”

FSRA recently helped a retiree collect benefits after his employer had lost track of his pension plan.

When Ihor Weryha was ready to retire, he knew he had a deferred pension through a previous employer, but when he contacted them to announce his intention to withdraw his pension, he was told they had no record of his pension.

By working with FSRA, Ihor was able to secure the pension he was entitled to for the rest of his life, as well as a retroactive lump sum payment, benefits that are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

“The number one thing was I kept records, and number two was I contacted FSRA. Those are the two things that led to a successful result,” Ihor says. “It would have made a big difference in quality of life (without these funds). My pension would have been half of what it is.”

As we approach Ontario’s second annual Pension Awareness Day on February 15th, FSRA is offering five tips to enable you to keep track of the retirement funding you worked so hard for.

  1. review and understand your annual pension statement
  2. update key information – such as your spousal status, your beneficiaries and your contact information
  3. learn about any decisions you must make, such as how much to contribute or what investment options you have
  4. get financial advice or use projection tools to find out if your retirement planning is on track
  5. ask questions – your employer, union or plan administrator can help

FSRA’s role as a regulator is to ensure pension plans meet the legal standards in the Pension Benefits Act. We can also help plan members if they can’t get the information they need from their plan administrator or want to file a complaint about their pension plan.

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FSRA continues to work on behalf of all stakeholders, including pension beneficiaries, to ensure financial safety, fairness, and choice for everyone.

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