Know Your Benefits – Take control of your retirement

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It’s up to the CAF member to take control of his or her retirement. As with any kind of career change, there may be bumps along the way, but a little planning goes a long way to make the transition to civilian life as smooth as possible. Here are some ways to make the process a little easier:

• Get an estimate of your pension benefits so you can find out your post-release income;
• Ask for your release package 60 days prior to release so you can plan well in advance; and
• Get financial advice to help you make better decisions.

Find out what your pension benefit will be. Your retirement date might make the difference between a reduced and unreduced pension: make it your business to be sure before you leave. Contact the Government of Canada Pension Centre at least six months before your release to get an estimate of your pension benefit through the self-service web portal (found at the bottom of the Pension Centre page under Features).

Tip: You might also want to try the Canadian Retirement Income calculator. This calculator allows you to figure out what you will receive and what you will need to live comfortably in retirement.

Ask for your release package before your release date by using the self-service web portal. The sooner forms are completed and returned to the Pension Centre, the better! If you are getting a pension, you may want to join the Public Service Health Care Plan at pshcp.ca, and also the Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan (click on Pay, Pension and Benefits, then Pension and Benefits, and Pensioners’ Dental Services Plan). Application forms are also included in the release package.

Tip: If you apply within 60 days of entitlement to your pension, medical and dental benefits will be backdated to the day after release, allowing you to claim any expenses that were paid out-of-pocket. If the application forms are not returned within 60 days, there will be a waiting period. Plan ahead!

Get financial advice. Don’t forget! While you are in the CAF, you pay contributions into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) as well as the CAF pension. The CAF pension includes a temporary benefit (called the Bridge Benefit) payable until age 65, unless you start to receive the CPP disability benefit. If you are not disabled and choose to take CPP retirement benefit early, the Bridge Benefit is still payable until age 65. Taking the CPP retirement benefit earlier than age 65 is a choice you will have to make.

Tip: The advisors with the Service Income and Security Insurance Plan (SISIP)  are an excellent resource when considering getting financial advice.

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