Have you checked your pensionable service?
Members often ask how to correct their pensionable service in the pension plan because they notice the time on their pension statement is not correct. This is very difficult to address years after the fact. In the Community Social Services sector and Community Health sector, it can be even more difficult because of the change in employers or the fact members may work for multiple employers.
Getting credit for the time you work in the pension plan is crucial to the calculation of your pension. This will affect what you get for the rest of your life once you retire! Just because you are paid correctly, there may be a number of reasons why the pension corporation has not received correct pension contributions for you. These can be innocent errors in reporting, but costly to you in the end if you do not check regularly. Check your statement annually when you receive it. There is pensionable service and contributory service. Pay particular attention to pensionable service.
There are a number of reasons pensionable time can be missed.
Missed enrollment – Your eligibility date may have been overlooked and you could have been eligible to join earlier. For example, new employees who were contributing to the plan through any Plan employer with a break in service of less than one month (30 days) and the employee has not applied for a pension.
Two or more jobs with an MPP employer – eligibility with one employer means that as soon as you go to work for a second plan employer, even for one shift a week, pension contributions need to be made.
- In addition, if you work for two plan eligible employers; this can affect your eligibility for enrollment.
Missed contributions on pension eligible time – This could happen as a result of simple miscoding of what is pensionable and what is not in the payroll system.
Paid leave of absences such as maternity leave (the employer must pay their contributions if you pay your share of contributions. This also includes things like vacation, bereavement leave, employer paid sick leave, WCB if paid through the employer.
Unpaid leaves of absences – you have 5 years to buy back this time to improve your pension and service time. Pay particular attention to WCB leaves paid directly to you and not through your employer.
- Probationary period - you have 5 years to buy back this time to improve your pension and service time
There is a five-year deadline for buying all service types. The type of service dictates when the five-year period begins.
The key is, you don't have to remember all this, you just have to check your pension statement and make sure it is right. Everyone should receive a pension statement every year.
The best way is to go online to www.pensionsbc.ca and register with My Account. A user name and password is provided on your annual statement. When you log in, you will be asked to change your password to something personal. It is that simple.
You can check this anytime and verify your service. Pay particular attention to "Pensionable Service". This is what your employer has contributed on your behalf. If it is not right, you can call the plan administrator at 1-800-665-6335 and they can do follow up for you if you can be specific about what is missing.
If you wait years to check, it may not be possible to verify your lost time. That employer may be long gone.
- Check your paychecks. Is the employer contributing for you?
- Register for My Account and check if the pension plan has properly received your contributions. If not, identify what is missing. (You will see it on your online statement)
- Ask your employer.
- Verify with pension administrator if you get it corrected,
- Contact the plan administrator yourself and have them check it if the employer does not correct or disagrees and you feel it is still wrong,
Please remember time is your enemy. The longer this goes, the harder it will be too verify.
Remember, if you are looking to purchase an unpaid leave, EI sick leave or maternity/parental leave or any other unpaid time off, you have a maximum of 5 years to do so.
Note: The formula in calculating your pension is based on "Years of Pensionable Service" times an accrual rate (percentage) times your highest average five years salary. The higher your "pensionable service" the more your pension will be.
Your retirement income depends on it.
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