Retiring or Leaving Western
When you are retiring from Western or when you leave Western before retirement, you have options when it comes to the savings in your Western Pension Plan account. The information below is an overview of the help available. Sun Life Financial will provide you with further information and support.
Important: Please be sure to keep Western and Sun Life up to date on your current address to ensure this information reaches you.
You are entitled to the total funds in pension account regardless of when or why you leave Western. While your pension savings are transferable, legislation may require they remain in a “locked-in” account to provide retirement income.
Within 60 days of terminating membership in the Plan you will receive a package of information from Sun Life Financial, outlining your options.
Note that members who had did not have regular full-time employment have a six-month waiting period before membership is terminated. Some part-time faculty members may have an 18-month waiting period. Be sure to keep Western up to date on your current address to ensure this reaches you. Once your membership has terminated, you will need to update your address directly with Sun Life.
When you leave Western before retirement, your options for locked-in funds include:
- Leave the funds in the Western Pension Plan at Sun Life Financial. A semi-annual fee of $200 will be charged ($400 per year). If you have both locked-in and non-locked in funds, the fees will only be applied once. Your funds may remain in the plan no later than the end of the year you reach age 71.
- Transfer the funds to a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) under Sun Life's Group Choices.
- Transfer to a LIRA or a Life Income Fund (LIF) at a financial institution of your choice, or to another registered pension plan (provided that employer is willing to accept them).
- Purchase a deferred life annuity offered by Sun Life or another life insurance company.
With non-locked in funds, your savings can be cashed, transferred to a RRSP or left in the plan. If you leave funds in the plan, a semi-annual fee of $200 will be charged ($400 per year). If you have both locked-in and non-locked in funds, the fees will only be applied once.
Note: For members who joined the Western pension plan under the eligibility rules for those who are not regular, full-time employees, membership does not cease until six months after contributions have stopped. This six-month period is to allow for the possibility the member may be successful in starting another position with Western and this would then allow immediate enrollment in the pension plan.
Following six months without contributions, your membership in the plan will end and Sun Life will send you a package of information outlining your options. Please be sure to keep Western and Sun Life up to date on your current address to ensure this reaches you.
Attend a Retirement Planning Workshop
If you are 45 years or older and considering retirement in the next 10 years, consider attending a full-day Financial and Pre-retirement Planning workshop offered by Western. The workshop offers an unbiased discussion of the role of the Western pension, government pensions and private savings in retirement income planning. Additional topics may include investing in retirement, and tax planning.
Learn about the Sun Life RIF/LIF
In addition to providing member services for our Pension Plan, Sun Life is Western's preferred provider of a Retirement Income Fund. If you are within five years of retirement, you can arrange a meeting with a Sun Life Retirement Consultant, who can provide you with personalized income projections and support, along with information about the Sun Life Retirement & Savings Plan for Western Retirees.
Retirement assistance from Western University
If you have questions about your eligibility for retirement, your post-retirement benefits, phased retirement for faculty members, or other non-pension related questions, please contact Human Resources at 519-661-2194 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to speak with a Total Rewards Consultant.
When you retire, you have a number of options for your Western pension savings. One option is to leave your savings in the Western Pension Plan at Sun Life Financial, and continue to manage those investments as you did while you were working here. There are no additional administrative fees for Western retirees to keep their funds in the plan. Keep in mind:
- To create an income from your retirement savings, you will need to move your pension funds to a Retirement Income Fund (RIF), or purchase an annuity.
- Pension legislation requires that by the end of the year you turn 71, you must move your pension funds out of the pension plan and into an income vehicle.
When you wish to begin collecting an income from your pension savings, here are the options available to you:
Retirement Income Fund (RIF) - In a RIF, you retain responsibility for investing your pension funds and draw a variable payment. The Sun Life Retirement & Savings Plan for Western Retirees is a RIF, and other financial institutions also offer RIFs. More information about the Retirement Income Fund and your options is available below.
Annuity Purchase - If you choose an annuity, your savings are provided to an insurance company which then will pay you a stable income for life. Sun Life Financial can assist you in the purchase of an annuity from Sun Life or from another provider. Once an annuity is purchased it is a final decision and cannot be changed.
Deciding when to start an income and whether to use an annuity, a Retirement Income Fund or a combination of the two, is a personal decision. Most people find it helpful to understand the options and have a plan well in advance of finalizing their retirement decision. You may get assistance from a Sun Life Retirement Consultant, or you may wish to meet with your personal advisor or financial planner. Here is some information on how to prepare to meet with a Sun Life Retirement Consultant or your advisor.
Sun Life Financial is Western's preferred provider of a Retirement Income Fund (RIF) program.
Members of the Western Pension Plan have a number of options to consider when they wish to begin taking an income from their pension savings:
- Join the Sun Life Retirement & Savings Plan for Western Retirees
- Transfer your pension savings to another financial institution
- Purchase an annuity
- Take cash for any funds that are not locked-in (taxable)
- Any combination of the above
You will find it helpful and informative to take the time to explore your options, and prepare well in advance of your retirement date. The Western Retirement Guide offers helpful information about your retirement options and a checklist on the last page will help keep you on track!
About the Sun Life Plan
The Sun Life Retirement & Savings Plan offers an outstanding opportunity for Western retirees. It provides access to a broad range of quality investment choices (including those familiar to Western Pension Plan members), a high degree of flexibility including the option to transfer-in outside assets and spousal accounts, and convenient financial planning support. Western has negotiated very competitive group fees; lower than you would expect to pay as an individual investor. For those who join the plan between now and May 1, 2025, these fees are guaranteed for life.
Sun Life Financial will offer group information sessions on campus from time to time, which can give you a good overview of the Plan. They will be a good choice for those within two years of retirement.
Members within five years of retirement are encouraged to arrange a 1:1 conversation with a Sun Life Retirement Consultant, by calling (toll-free) 1-866-224-3906 (and select option 1) any business day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Sun Life Consultant can:
- review your investments;
- answer the questions that are important to you;
- prepare a personalized retirement income roadmap;
- discuss the benefits of bringing external or spousal investments to the Sun Life Plan, along with your Western Pension Plan funds.
- be your direct contact as you continue your planning, and assist with the registration process, when you are ready to make that move.
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