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Employees' Retirement Plan - FAQs

About the Employees’ Retirement Pension Plan

When am I entitled to a benefit from the Pension Plan?
Once you join the Pension Plan, you are immediately entitled to the benefits that you earn from the Plan. There is no waiting period before you own your earned pension benefits (in other words, your pension benefits are immediately vested).
 
When will I be eligible for early retirement?
You can retire from the Pension Plan as early as 10 years before your normal retirement date. If you decide to retire early, your monthly pension amount will be reduced to account for the fact that you will likely receive the pension for a longer period of time. For more information, consult the Plan document.
 
What are my options if I choose to continue working beyond my normal retirement date?
If you choose to continue working beyond your normal retirement date, you are required to continue making full contributions, and you continue to accrue full pensionable earnings and service up to the earlier of your actual retirement date or the end of the year in which you turn age 71 (the year you must cease pension participation and commence receipt of your pension, regardless of your employment status). You can use the Pension Estimator to estimate this benefit based on assumptions that you enter. If you are approaching your normal retirement date and contemplating postponed retirement, please contact the Department of Human Resources via email at pensions@uwindsor.ca to discuss your options, and to receive a formal pension estimate.
 
How is my retirement benefit calculated?
You are a member of the University of Windsor Employees’ Retirement Plan, which is a defined benefit (DB) pension plan. A DB plan guarantees your pension benefit amount at retirement according to a fixed formula that takes into account your salary and the number of years you’ve participated in the plan.
 
To see the formula used to calculate your pension amount at retirement, refer to the Plan document.
 
I am a part-time employee. When am I eligible to enrol in the pension plan?
Part-time employees are eligible to join the Plan once they have been employed for two consecutive years or more and:

(a) have earned 35% of the YMPE ($53,600 for 2015) or more in each of the two preceding calendar years; or

(b) have worked minimum of 700 hours in each of the two preceding calendar years. 

The Department of Human Resources monitors your eligibility and will contact you once you have satisfied the eligibility requirements.
 
I am a part-time employee. How is my pensionable service calculated?
Pensionable service for part-time employees is calculated based on the ratio of hours worked (other than overtime hours) to the regularly scheduled hours normally worked by full-time employees.  For more information, consult the credited service chart in the Create an Estimate section of the Pension Estimator.
 
Can I continue to contribute to the Employees’ Plan during a period of unpaid leave?
Continued participation during periods of unpaid leave is not permitted under the terms of the Plan, except during maternity/parental leaves, periods of short-term loan to a Union, or leaves for military service. For more information, consult the Plan document.
 
I will be commencing a maternity and/or a parental leave in the near future. What are my pension options during this period?
You will have the option to continue participation during any paid or unpaid leave of this nature. The Department of Human Resources will contact you prior to your leave to discuss your options. For more information, consult the Plan document.
 
What happens to my pension participation if I am off work due to illness or disability?
During periods of short-term disability, contributions are deducted from your pay and you are credited with full pensionable earnings and service. During periods of long-term disability for which you are in receipt of disability benefits, you are no longer required to make contributions to the Plan. Rather, your contributions are deemed to have been made on your behalf. You receive full pension service throughout the disability period up to the earliest of your return to work date, your actual retirement date, or your normal retirement date. Your pensionable earnings are calculated based on the normal salary you would be receiving if you were actively at work. For more information, consult the Plan document.
 
Who contributes to the Pension Plan?
Both you and the University contribute to the Pension Plan. Your required contributions are calculated according to a formula. The University matches your contributions at a minimum.
 
To see the formula used to calculate your required contributions to the Plan, refer to the Plan document.
 
Can I choose to discontinue my participation in the Plan while actively employed?
Plan participation is compulsory for eligible members. Once you are enrolled in the Plan, you are not allowed to opt out of the Plan until such time as your employment ends or you commence retirement. 
 
What happens to my pension if I leave the University or die before retirement?
If you leave the University before you retire, you are entitled to receive a benefit from the Pension Plan. Similarly, if you die before retirement, your spouse or beneficiary is entitled to receive a benefit from the Pension Plan. In these situations, you will receive a formal statement of your pension transfer options along with all applicable forms for completion from the Department of Human Resources. You can use the Pension Estimator to estimate this benefit based on assumptions that you enter. The type and amount of benefit will depend on your plan membership and your years of participation in the Plan.
 
I read that I can choose my form of pension. What does that mean?
Not all pensions are the same. You can usually choose from a selection of different "forms" of payment when you start your pension. All forms of pension will pay you a monthly amount for the rest of your life. Some forms will provide that a certain number of payments are guaranteed. Others may provide for a continuation of your pension, or a portion thereof, to continue to your spouse after your death. The amount of pension varies depending on the form elected.
 
Keep in mind that if you have a spouse at retirement, the Pension Benefits Act of Ontario requires that your pension is paid in a form where at least 60% of your pension will continue to your spouse upon your death, unless your spouse has waived his or her right to the pension.
 
For more information on the forms of pension available to you at retirement, refer to the Plan document.
 
How can I monitor how much I have earned in the Pension Plan?
The University of Windsor issues annual pension statements to all plan members within six months of plan year end in accordance with the Pension Benefits Act. Your annual pension statement contains a variety of useful information, as of the applicable plan year end, including:
  • Your contributions (both cumulative and for the plan year)
  • Your pension service (in years and part years)
  • Your normal retirement date
  • The pension amount you have earned to date
  • The future pension amounts you are expected to receive at retirement
How secure is my pension benefit?
Pension regulations and the official rules of the Pension Plan protect your pension benefit in many ways. First of all, a trustee holds the Pension Plan’s assets, including all employee and University contributions to the Pension Fund, separate from the assets of the University. As a result, the assets of the Pension Plan are protected even if the University should experience financial trouble. In that unlikely situation, pension regulations would prescribe a fair distribution of the Fund to plan members.
 
Pension regulations also protect your pension from your own actions. You can’t withdraw the value of your pension, borrow any portion of it, or use it as collateral for a loan, and your creditors can’t seize it. You can’t promise or assign your pension benefits to anyone, except for income-splitting purposes upon divorce, separation, or annulment, and then only according to a court order or a legal agreement.
 
When do I name a beneficiary for my Pension Plan benefits?
You named a beneficiary when you enrolled in the Pension Plan. Your spouse, if applicable, will be the automatic beneficiary of your Pension Plan, unless you and your spouse have completed a Waiver of Pre-retirement Death Benefit (Form 4), and it is on file in your records in the Department of Human Resources. This form can be found in the forms section of the Pensions website. You should review your beneficiary designation each year when you receive your annual pension statement, or when your life circumstances change, such as when you retire.
 
My spouse and I have separated and my lawyer has requested information related to my University of Windsor pension benefit. What should I provide?
A written request for relevant pension information as at a specified marriage breakdown date must be signed by you and delivered to the Department of Human Resources. Requests for information by your spouse must be accompanied by a letter from you, authorizing the University to release this information. You will be provided with information for your lawyer’s reference. It is strongly recommended that both parties obtain independent legal counsel when considering the valuation or assignment of pension assets. 
 
I recently had a change in my personal information. How do I update my records?
You can submit an online request to update your records through the Pension Estimator. Alternatively, you can ask to be contacted by sending an email at pensions@uwindsor.ca.
 
About Retirement
 
How much income do I need to retire?
Financial advisers often say that you need around 60% to 80% of your pre-retirement working income to retire comfortably. How much income you’ll need in retirement depends on you. This amount can vary widely based on your lifestyle. If you plan to travel, or take part in expensive hobbies, the percentage may be higher. If your home is paid for and you use public transit, it could be less.
 
In any case, it is always a good idea to plan early for your financial future. Compare your sources of retirement income with what you expect you’ll need. You can use the Pension Estimator to calculate the income you could receive from the Pension Plan. Remember that future inflation will erode your purchasing power, so you should factor this into your plans.
 
Will the income I receive from the Pension Plan be enough for retirement?
Depending on how long you work for the University and on your expenses during retirement, the Pension Plan may or may not provide all the income you need for a comfortable retirement. For example, if you work at the University for approximately 30 years, the Pension Plan could provide most of your retirement income. The rest will be financed from other sources, so it’s important to understand where retirement income can come from. Your sources of potential retirement income can include:
  • Company pension and retirement plans (from all your employers)
  • Government benefits such as Canada/Quebec Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, provincial supplements
  • Personal savings and investments
 If you expect that income from these sources won’t provide an adequate amount to finance your retirement, your second retirement planning step is developing a personal financial strategy. This is best done in partnership with a certified financial planner.
 
About the Pension Estimator

What is the Pension Estimator?

The Pension Estimator is a web based pension planning tool, which can be used by active members of the Employees’ Retirement Plan to estimate pension values upon ending employment, retirement or in the event you should die.
 
Who can access the Pension Estimator?
The Pension Estimator can be accessed by active members of the two University sponsored plans with an enrolment date prior to July 1, 2015. Employees who became Plan members on July 1, 2015 and after will be able to access the Pension Estimator following the end of the first plan year of their membership.
 
What do I need to know about the browser functionality for viewing the Pension Estimator?
  • The Pension Estimator should be compatible with all current browsers, but works best on IE and Firefox.
  • Mac users with Safari 2007 3.04 may find that direct links into the Pension Plan text from the glossary do not drill down into the specific section.
  • In order to keep the user input active throughout the Pension Estimator, the browser’s back button is not functional while in the application. You can move through the screens by selecting new menu items from the tool bar, by selecting the X quit box on various screens or by using the Go button.
  • The application requires that the user browser be configured to accept cookies. This is the default setting of most browsers. However, if you changed your browser setting you may not be able to access the application.
  • If you find you cannot see the whole screen while in the application, try adjusting the text size from the view menu at the top of the screen.
  • The Pension Estimator server accepts only SSL 3.0 with 128 bit encryption. Hence, it is possible that older browsers will not work. 
  • If you experience any access or viewing difficulties, contact the Manager of Pensions and Benefits at extension 2048.
Is the Pension Estimator tool accessibility aware?
The system has been developed using best practice principles.  However, we will continue to improve in the area of accessibility.  It is important for us.
 
Is the Pension Estimator tool secure?
Yes. There are several security mechanisms in place. Such as:
  • The Pension Estimator is an HTTPS application. The information flowing to and from the internet is encrypted.
  • The Pension Estimator will not let people “guess” your password. After three (3) failed login attempts, the tool will “lock” your user id #. You will need to contact the Department of Human Resources to have your account reset. 
  • If the Pension Estimator is left open for thirty (30) minutes or more your session will be automatically terminated and you will need to login again in order to access the site.
Do I need to do anything to protect my pension information?
There are a few ways to ensure your pension information remains protected.
  • Just as with many other online tools, your password is the key. Keep your password secret and your information will be protected.
  • Make sure you click on the QUIT option when you are finished using the tool. This will exit the tool properly. Do not simply click on the X in the top right hand corner. 
  • Never leave the Pension Estimator open on your screen when you are away from your computer. 
  • Never leave any printed information in a public area.
To enter the Pension Estimator I need my User ID # and password. Where do I find them?
Your user ID # is your University of Windsor employee number. Go to /hr/pensions and select the Pension Estimator link. This will direct you to the Pension Estimator sign on page, where instructions for obtaining your user ID # can be found. To receive your password, select Forgot your password or don’t have one yet and follow the instructions. Your password will be sent to your UWindsor email address. Once you have your user ID # and your password you should be able to enter the tool without any difficulty. If you experience problems, contact the Department of Human Resources for assistance.  
 
I would like to change my email address. Is this possible?
You are not able to change your email address unless your employment ends and you elect to retain a deferred pension entitlement. Your UWindsor email address is your official email address for University correspondence and resides in the Pension Estimator as part of the member identification and security control process.
 
I am a member of the Retirement Plan for Faculty and Certain Employees, but also have a pension benefit from a time period when I was a member of the Employees’ Retirement Plan. How do I access my records by Plan?
Upon sign in, the Pension Estimator will know you have two active records, one for each Plan. You will see an option to select your record by Plan on the far left of the main tool bar, once you have signed on to the tool. Keep in mind, future service accrual will only take place in the Plan you are currently enrolled in.
 
I am an active member, who also has a deferred pension benefit from a previous period of service. Can I access both records? 
At the present time, deferred member access is not yet available. We expect this phase of the project to be completed by the fall of 2017. Deferred members will be contacted and provided with all the information they will need to access the system once this phase of the project is complete. 
 
How can I get an estimate of how much I will receive from the Pension Plan when I retire?
You can receive an online estimate of your pension income at retirement by using the University of Windsor Pension Estimator.
 
If you are planning to retire within the next year, you can request a more precise pension quote by contacting the Department of Human Resources via an email at pensions@uwindsor.ca.
 
How accurate are the results from the Pension Estimator?
While the University of Windsor makes every effort to provide you with reliable resources, it’s important to note that the results from the Pension Estimator are forward looking, and therefore, must be considered estimates only. Your pension benefit can be determined with certainty only on the actual date that you retire, leave the University, or die. You should think of the results from the Pension Estimator as a tool to use in your overall financial planning, and not as definitive data.
 
In creating a pension estimate, assumptions on inflation and salary increases are used. What is the relationship between them? 
In today’s economic environment a future inflation assumption of 2.5% is considered reasonable and has been selected for estimates. The inflation rate will affect values used in pension calculations, such as the projected YMPE (refer to YMPE in the Pension Estimator glossary) used in the calculation of contributions and in the benefit formula, as well as in calculating Income Tax Act maximum pension limits for future years. 
 
The salary projection assumption will increase your existing salary rate by the inflation rate of 2.5% plus the % amount you select. For example, if you select a salary assumption of Inflation + ½%, your existing salary will increase by 3% to the effective estimate date you select.
 
I will be retiring shortly. Will I be able to access the Pension Estimator after retirement?
Retirees are able to access the Retiree Resource Centre. Retirees can view their personal data including spousal and beneficiary designations, the form of pension chosen at retirement, and the results of each annual indexing calculation. Retirees having difficulty accessing the Resource Centre should contact the pension office at ext. 2048 or by email to pensions@uwindsor.ca. 
 
I’d like to learn more about my Pension Plan. Where should I look?
Additional information can be obtained by consulting the “My Pension Plan” section in the Pension Estimator. You can also consult the formal Plan document and a comprehensive glossary section, also located within the Pension Estimator.
 
Who do I contact if I have questions about the Pension Estimator or about my results?
If you have any questions about using the Pension Estimator or about the results contained in an estimate, contact the Department of Human Resources via an email at pensions@uwindsor.ca.
 
I have questions that are more complex. Where can I obtain more information specific to my situation?
The Department of Human Resources can assist you with questions or concerns specific to your situation. We encourage you to contact us via email at pensions@uwindsor.ca and we will set up a time to meet for a face to face discussion.