Your pension partner is how the Plan rules refer to someone you are married to, or someone with whom you are in a spouse-like relationship. A pension partner has special rights when it comes to your pension.
The sections below talk about who can be a pension partner, as well as why it is important. A pension partner is often referred to as your spouse or partner throughout this website.
Why It Is Important to Understand Your Spouse's or Partner's Rights
Before You Retire
Your spouse or partner receives special protection by law and is automatically your only beneficiary if you pass away before you start your pension. For instance, LAPP will offer a lifetime pension to your spouse or partner if you pass away after you become vested.
Your spouse or partner can waive the right to any benefit if you die before starting your pension, but the waiver must be completed before you die. The waiver can also be revoked by the person who signs it at any time prior to your death, making him or her the sole beneficiary once again.
After You Retire
When you retire and start your pension, the law requires you to choose a pension that will pay a lifetime benefit to your spouse or partner if you are the first one to pass away.
There is a waiver that can be signed at retirement by your spouse or partner to give up the right to that benefit. This can be done in order to allow the member to select a single life pension option, and to choose other beneficiaries.
The Difference Between a Spouse or Partner and a Beneficiary
Your spouse or partner is first in line to receive any payment from the Plan should you pass away. If you pass away without a spouse or partner, or if the pension partner death benefits have been waived, your beneficiary(ies) can receive your death benefit.
Beneficiaries cannot, however, get lifetime pension payments. Those rights only apply to your pension partner. For more on beneficiary death benefits, visit our Pension Options page.
When You Should Tell Us About Your Spouse or Partner
Telling us about your spouse or partner is very important when you are first joining LAPP. If you do not have one at that point, it is important to update us if this changes. Also, tell us immediately if you divorce, separate, or re-marry while you are a member, including during retirement.
Who Qualifies as a Pension Partner
If You Are Married
If you are married, your spouse is automatically your pension partner, unless you have been living separate and apart for three or more years.
Not Married, but Live Together in a Spouse-Like or Common-Law Relationship
Someone you are living with in a spouse-like relationship, sometimes called a common-law relationship, can be your pension partner once you have been living together for three years in a row. This period can be shortened if you have a child, either by birth or adoption, of that relationship.
If you have any questions about your personal situation, you can contact us.
If your marriage is ending, your pension benefit may have to be divided between you and your spouse. This requires a matrimonial property order (MPO) to be filed with us which will provide the details as to when and how your LAPP benefit is to be divided, if it is at all.
You should consult your legal counsel about how to get and file an MPO. You can also send a draft copy of the order to us for review before submitting it, which can save you time and money if it needs to be changed.
Completing a Pre-Retirement Death Benefit Waiver does not prevent your pension partner from seeking a division of your pension.
If you and your partner separate, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can provide you with the necessary paperwork to update your pension partner information.
Definition of Pension Partner
A pension partner is a person who, at the relevant time, is:
1) someone to whom you are married and from whom you have not been living separate and apart for three or more consecutive years; or
2) if no such person exists, someone with whom you have been living in a common-law type relationship:
a) for a continuous period of no less than three years, or
b) of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoption.
For the purposes of this definition, persons are living separate and apart
(a) if they are living apart and either of them has the intention to live separate and apart from the other, or
(b) if, before the relevant time,
(i) they had been living separate and apart for any period, and
(ii) that period was interrupted or terminated by reason only that either of them became incapable of continuing to live separate and apart or of forming or having the intention to continue to live separate and apart of that person’s own volition,
and the separation would probably have continued if that person had not become so incapable.