What You Need to Know About the CPP Survivor’s Pension

What You Need to Know About the CPP Survivor’s Pension

Recent events in my life have me considering some of the financial consequences when a spouse dies. While my wife is very much alive, I have been thinking about some of the financial difficulties that can come when your spouse or common-law partner passes on.

In order to help you deal with some of the financial changes you are likely to see in your life, the Canada Pension Plan offers specific benefits. One of those benefits is the CPP Survivor’s Pension.

What is the CPP Survivor’s Pension?

This pension is designed to be paid to the spouse or common-law partner of someone who has passed on. So if your partner is deceased, you are entitled to a pension if your partner contributed to the CPP. This pension can help replace some of the income you might miss with the passing of your partner. It can’t replace your partner, but it can help ease some of the financial consequences of his or her passing.

How Much is the CPP Survivor Benefit?

How much you receive from the pension depends on three main factors:

  1. Whether you already receive some type of CPP benefit, either disability or retirement.
  2. How old you are.
  3. How long (and how much) the deceased contributed to the CPP.

The first calculation is made based on how much the deceased would have received as a retirement pension had he or she been age 65 at the time of the death. From there, the formula is adjusted according to different circumstances. For those under the age of 35 with no children, there is no pension paid until you become 65, or until you become disabled. If you have children, an immediate survivor’s benefit is payable at any age if the survivor is looking after a dependant child of the contributor. It’s a good idea to check with Service Canada to get an idea of what, exactly, you can expect, depending on your age and the age of the deceased at the time of death.

It’s also important to be aware of what to expect if you are widowed more than once. If you have had more than one partner who has died, you will only be paid one pension. The CPP Survivor’s Pension in this case is paid according to which amount is the greatest. Additionally, even you are separated from a former partner, you might be eligible for the Survivor’s Pension if the deceased had no cohabiting common-law partner or spouse at the time of death. You will also continue to receive your pension if you remarry (although, if your new partner passes, the CPP will determine which Survivor’s Pension you will receive).

For ease, your CPP Survivor’s Pension will be combined with other benefits that you are eligible for. This means that this benefit will be combined with your retirement benefit or your disability benefit. The total amount you received for all of your combined benefits can be adjusted, based on your circumstances. If you are receiving a full retirement or disability benefit, you will not be able to receive the full survivor benefit.

Look into your options if your loved one was a CPP contributor. Chances are that you are eligible for a benefit that can help your financial situation.


  1. Bryan Jaskolka

    Thanks so much for sharing this info. You’re right, it’s not pleasant to think about but unfortunately, it’s a possibility we all might face at some point. I’m sorry for whatever it is you’re going through. Based on your last couple of posts, it’s obviously something that’s troubling your mind quite a bit.

  2. Kevin Watts @

    Great information. I did not know much about CPP Survivor’s Pension. Thanks for sharing the information with us.

  3. Dennis Tin

    Good Article, it would be interesting to know the mathematics and to know if it is based solely on the number of years of marriage or the entire (deceased) pension.

    • Doug

      Dennis – The amount of the survivor’s benefit is based on the entire contributory period of the deceased contributor, not just on the number of years of the marriage.
      If youre really interested in the mathematics, read this article:

  4. Alan Lukachko

    My wife died at 52, when I was 47. I received a Survivor Pension at that point. At age 60, I chose to receive an early Canada Pension Plan Benefit. The full Survivor Pension continued. At age 65, when I started to receive the Old Age Security Benefit, they reduced my Survivor Pension. In my case by $105 per month. When I inquired why, they quoted some law or regulation that reduces the Survivor Pension on receiving the Old Age Security benefit. They also send me a several page detailed calculation on how it was reduced. Since my wife contributed to CPP, the monies have been in vested. Had she live to 65, she would have received a full CPP benefit. Even though the Survivor benefit is a fraction of the CPP benefit, I still don’t understand the reduction at age 65. I’m still confused.

  5. Doug


    I don’t know that I can really explain the “why”, but I can clarify a couple of points for you.

    First, when you turned age 60 and started receiving your own CPP retirement pension, I can guarantee that you did not continue to receive the same amount of survivor’s pension. There is a complex formula for calculating a “combined benefit” (what Service Canada calls it when you receive a survivor’s pension as well as a disability or retirement pension), but you never receive all of both.

    Second, your survivor’s pension would have been recalculated at age 65, regardless whether you were receiving your own CPP retirement pension and regardless whether you were eligible for the Old Age Security. Sometimes this recalculation results in an increased survivor’s pension, and sometimes it results in a decrease. When you’re receiving a combined benefit, it usually results in a decrease of about $100.

    If you want to fully understand the various calculations, read this article:

  6. Leah Christie

    Hi Doug, not to sure if this is still an active link… My common-law spouse was 46 years old when he passed away in 2012 – I was 31 years of age. almost 5 years have passed and I am now 35, turning 36 in April. Will I be eligible for any type of benefit? We did not have children together, and I am not disabled.
    Hope you can clarify!

    • Doug

      Hi Leah – No, you won’t be eligible for a CPP survivor’s pension until you turn age 65 or when you apply for your own CPP (if earlier than age 65).

  7. Karin

    My husband was killed in a vehicle accident in 1989, he was 26. I was 22. I do get a CPP survivor’s benefit. We had no children either.

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