After class blog

Straight talk on retirement and pensions.

Your pension and your family

BC families come in all different shapes, sizes and situations. From single parents, couples with no children, to couples with lots of children living in multigenerational households, no matter your situation, family factors influence your pension options. Luckily, there are a number of ways to take control of your choices and protect both your loved ones and your retirement. Let’s look at a few scenarios and some of the options available for plan members’ consideration.

Taking time off work to be a caregiver

When you take time off work to look after your child or a relative, you likely won’t be receiving your regular salary or contributing to your pension. This may affect your pension when you retire. Remember, your pension is calculated based on a number of factors including your years of pensionable service and your highest average salary. While time off work may not affect your highest average salary, it may impact on your pensionable service. Generally speaking, the more pensionable service you accumulate, the greater your pension will be.

Although you normally accumulate pensionable service by working and contributing to the plan, you can often “buy-back” service to cover the periods you are away from work on an approved leave.

For more on buying back service, visit Taking time off work and buying service in the related content bar to the right of the screen.

Claiming a child-rearing credit

If you’ve taken an employer-approved leave of absence or quit work to raise a child under age seven, you may also have your child-rearing time recognized as contributory service. You get a month of contributory service for every month during which you make a contribution to the plan (or are deemed to have made a contribution). It is used to determine if your pension will be reduced at retirement and, if so, by how much.

Working part-time

If you return to work part-time after a leave, you will restart contributing to the plan. Your pension contributions and pensionable service will be adjusted to reflect your part-time status.


Being unable to work due to disability puts financial strain on families. If you are unable to work due to illness or injury, you may be eligible for short-term or long-term disability benefits, or a disability pension.

You may be eligible for a disability pension if you are totally and permanently disabled before age 60 and not covered under an approved long-term disability plan. A disability pension pays you a monthly pension and replaces any termination benefits or retirement pension you would normally receive as a plan member.

Protecting your loved ones by nominating beneficiaries

Your pension may provide some financial benefit for your family when you die. Depending on your family situation and the options you select, your spouse, child or other designated beneficiary may receive some form of a death benefit from the plan following your death.

If you are married or in a common-law relationship of more than two years, your spouse is automatically your sole beneficiary. You can also name an alternate beneficiary(ies) in case your spouse dies before you. Remember to update your beneficiary designation if you experience a relationship breakdown.

Understanding death benefits and keeping your beneficiary designation up-to-date is an important way of ensuring your loved ones are protected.

Knowing your pension gives your family options, and protects your loved ones, will give you peace of mind.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Teachers' Pension Board of Trustees.