What Is the CPP Death Benefit and Who Should Apply?

What Is the CPP Death Benefit and Who Should Apply?

One of the difficulties that come when a loved one passes away is taking care of all the financial issues associated with the situation. It’s not usually something that you want to deal with, but the reality is that you need to do what you can to get your loved one’s affairs in order. Additionally, since there might be costs related to the death of your loved one, it makes sense to look into what avenues you have in terms of defraying those costs.

The Canada Pension Plan offers a death benefit to be paid out if the deceased has been a contributor. While you might not be feeling particularly good about applying for this death benefit following on the heels of someone close to you, it is still a good idea to make the effort. Here are some of the things you should know about the CPP death benefit:

Who Receives the CPP Death Benefit?

First, understand who is eligible to claim the CPP death benefit. If the deceased has an estate, the benefit is paid to the estate. In these cases, the administrator named by the court, or the executor of the will, is who applies for the benefit.

However, there are cases in which the deceased does not have an estate. In these situations, the CPP death benefit can be paid to one of the following three entities:

  1. Whoever paid for the deceased’s funeral expenses. The death benefit is mainly designed to offset funeral expenses, so it makes sense that it would be paid out to the person or institution who covered these costs.
  2. Surviving partner: The spouse or common-law partner left behind by the deceased can also apply for, and receive, the CPP death benefit.
  3. Next of kin: Finally, if the other two circumstances aren’t met, the deceased’s next of kin can apply for the death benefit.

Often, someone who receives the death benefit meets more than one of the requirements above. If there is a surviving partner, it makes sense that he or she likely paid for the funeral, so claiming the benefit can help ease some of the financial burden associated with the passing of a loved one.

Eligibility Requirements

If the death benefit is to be paid out, certain requirements must be met. The deceased has to have contributed to the CPP for at least three years. Additionally, if the contributory period for the deceased exceeded nine years, contributions must have been made in the lesser of either one-third of the calendar years in the contributory period or made a contribution in at least 10 calendar years.

If the minimum is made, a death benefit paid on behalf of the deceased can be expected. This benefit depends on a number of factors but is capped at $2,500 for 2013 (the average payout as of July 2013, according to Service Canada, was $2,282.58). You might not be eligible to receive the maximum amount of the death benefit, but if you disagree with the amount you are sent, you are allowed to appeal.

If a loved one has passed on, you need to do what you can to ease the financial strain, and that might include applying for the CPP death benefit.


  1. Lorraine Johnson

    My father passed away in May 2015. He paid CPP premiums for many years. He had prepaid his funeral expenses but there was still the cost of the luncheon and headstone to take care of. Are receipts required to get the CPP death benefits? Isn’t it enough that he paid CPP premiums for all those years.

    thanks, Lorraine Johnson

    • Sharon Kobe

      Receipts are not required for the CPP Death Benefit. What you receive is dependent on how much your father paid in. The funeral costs are not relevant.

  2. Coleen Szura

    My senior brother suffering from dementia is separated from his wife and living with me. As his present POA do I have to apply for his benefit to come to me when he passes? I ask because in their separation agreement the court awarded his wife his life insurance benefit from Chrysler’s leaving no monies to cover funeral costs. I just want clarification here as they are separated but not divorced. Thank you for your time.

    • Sharon Kobe

      The person paying for funeral costs is entitled to apply for the CPP Death Benefit.

      • Rozalia Kotack

        My husband of 51 years died and I’m still waiting for death benefits for 6 months, we live in texas

  3. Nicola

    My mother never worked but did recieve Canada pension , would that qualify for any benefits ?

    • Sharon Kobe

      If your mother never worked, her Estate would not be entitled to the CPP Death Benefit.

      • Dwight Clarke

        Now does this apply to everyone? As I was told that people on Welfare are entitled to the death benefit? If this is true then how are they elgible for it if they have never paid into Cpp?
        Also, if this is true, then why is a housewife who stayed at home and raised the future of our country not eligible? This sure does not seem fair, and the housewife seems to be discrimated against
        Please clarify for me

  4. Ed Dever

    Beware, you might think that you are getting the death benefit to help pay for funeral expenses but in reallity the CRA will want taxes on the amont. Even though , supposedly it was designed to help offset funeral costs but the CRA will not allow you to reduce the benefit with those funeral costs, they want their taxes first nd the bill can come 2 or mor yaers later

    • Carrie

      For someone in receipt of social assistance and who never worked – there is an application through Social Services to help cover funeral expenses. It is capped at a certain amount through.

  5. Jorge

    Informative article. Just wondering where one sends this request (by letter or email??) and to which address?

  6. Jim Nelson

    Thank you Tom so many people overlook or don’t realize they can apply for this benefit.

  7. Irene

    MY husband worked until 1993 in Canada then due to his co. closing had to move to the US to find work. Would he be eligible for CPP or OAP

    • Sharon Kobe

      CPP is something you and your employer pay into. Regardless of where you live at the time you apply, you are still entitled to what you paid in. With respect to OAP: If you are living outside Canada, you must:

      1. be 65 years old or older;
      2. have been a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada on the day before you left Canada; and
      3. have resided in Canada for at least 20 years since the age of 18.

  8. Deb Taylor

    My mother’s estate was denied the CPP death benefit because according to their records she only made contributions in a six year span; 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974.
    They have stated that to be eligible the deceased must have made valid contributions to the CPP plan in at least eight years between January 1966 and August 1987.
    They also have said they have considered the child-rearing provision to determine the eligibility.

    • Carolyn shymko

      Is this true? We are dealing with this very issue at this time. Our mother also raised 7 children.

  9. victor

    our mom passed away in january 2016.
    my sister and i were the executors of her estate.
    she contributed to cpp for at least 25 to 40 years of her life.
    we were unaware of this cpp death benefit.
    is it too late now in december 2017 to apply for it?

    • Sharon

      They like you to apply within 60 days of death, but if I were you, I would go ahead and apply anyways. I don’t think the application will be denied.

  10. Pat

    My mothe in law just passes away in another country. Her daughter was receiving her pension here in Canada. Mother in law was aware of this. Can my sister in law still collect this. She has not contributed to the funeral cost. There are 2 other siblings.

  11. Lesha Laronde

    MY dependent son and I receive CPP benefits for the death of my first husband. My common law husband recently passed away. Are either my son and I eligible for his CPP benefit? My common law spouse died without a will and I am the named executor do the estate. Can I apply for his CPP as the executor?

  12. Jodie

    My father passed away a week ago, today my sister(executer) applied for the CPP death benefit today. There are no assets in my Dads estate. The waiting period for the benefit is currently 20+ weeks. By this time the memorial with be over for my Dad, and his funeral paid for. What legally can the death benefit be used for.

    • Sharon

      If the funeral costs were paid for with funds other than your father’s funds, the CPP Death Benefit will be paid to the person who paid those costs. If he prepaid his funeral costs, the cheque will likely be payable to the Estate, in which case they would need to go towards paying any debts that he left before they could be used as a distribution to his beneficiaries.

  13. Penny Fitzpatrick

    My mother passed away Dec 30, 2017. She did not work in the past, however, she pension shared with my dad for many, many years. My dad was denied death benefit. Why? Should we appeal?

    • Sharon Kobe

      No, you should not appeal. The CPP Death Benefit is based strictly on contributions of the Deceased through employment. If she did not work, she did not contribute, so there is no benefit payable.

    • Barbara

      My mom just passed away..she was a homemaker .raising my sister and myself .. is there a death benefit that we should be applying for .. please help us

  14. Christine Fisher

    I received my dad’s death benefit when he passed away October 2017.
    I paid for his cremation out of my pocket so is the death benefit mine to keep and then I pay the taxes on it or does it go into my dad’s estate?

    • Sharon

      If you paid the funeral expenses, you get to keep the CPP Death Benefit, but must claim it on your income tax return.

  15. Brenda

    My brother passed away Feb 2018. I had gotten a letter from the CRA stating the CPP Death benefit was approved and we had to submit a tax return. 2 days later we rec’d a cheque for $2500 and have not filed taxes as of yet. I do not know when the last time he did file them as he had not been working for several years and had a zero income. Can I cash the cheque ? Or will they ask for the $$$ back if I file the taxes ?

    • Sharon

      CRA doesn’t usually have anything to do with the CPP Death Benefit other than when it is claimed on an individual’s tax return or an Estate’s Trust Return. Are you sure you are not confusing CRA with the entity that sent you the cheque and said you needed to claim it on your income tax return? If the cheque is payable to you, nobody will be asking for it back. If it is payable to the Estate, it should form a part of his Estate and be used to pay his liabilities, if any. If the Estate is an insolvent one, there is an order of priority in which creditors are to be paid. If you are the Executor of his Estate, you should make yourself aware of the order of priority. Funeral costs, for example, would get reimbursed before CRA would see any money. CRA is actually relatively low on the food chain when it comes to insolvent Estates.

  16. Paula

    My son died august 2017 he was only 21 years old he was a student, only worked part time . Summer jobs. Does we qualify for the death benifit?

    • Sharon

      The CPP Death Benefit is based solely on what is paid into it. Your son likely paid something, but not much. There is no harm in applying to get whatever his Estate may be entitled to. Sorry to hear you lost your son at such a young age.

  17. Sandi Favel

    Hi: My husband is an Indigenous man belonging to a First Nations Reserve in Canada. His reserve paid his funeral costs. I applied to receive his CPP Death Benefit. Am I eligible to receive it or does it go directly to his reserve?

  18. beridiano peralta

    My client was a CPP beneficiary who after living in Canada moved to Paraguay where she died a few years ago. Her pension has been credited to her account with Canada Trust and transferred to a designated bank in Paraguay to date. As I am an attorney at law and have been advising the deceased in the matter concerning her CPP benefits, and did not report her death yet, and in order to fill in the Application Form For a Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit, I would appreciate to know the steps to take in order to report the death and whether the amount balance deposited so far with TD Canada Trust could be considered as an estate of the deceased to be claimed by a next-of-kin. Best regards.-

  19. Gretchen

    Dad passed away this past summer. CPP required that we send in original receipt and proof of payment for funeral expenses before they would process the death benefit.
    CPP has been very responsive to our various applications – they to us 6-12 weeks and so far have responded within those guidelines.


    My mother-in-law recently passed away. She was a homemaker and never contributed to CPP. However, she did work in Canada and England prior to marrying and raising 4 children. She was also the beneficiary of a survivor benefit when her husband passed. Is there a possibility we are eligible to receive a death benefit?

  21. Barb

    My brother passed away 2 weeks ago without a will or any money – he had been on Social Assistance for the past several years. He was also estranged from the entire family except for myself. Unfortunately we had lived at one end of the country to the other from each other. I have been trying to move forward with a cremation but have yet to hear back from Social Services as to whether they will cover his final costs for cremation. If they won’t I will have to apply for a Letter of Administration in order to try to get death benefits for his cremation and final resting place which I will pay for myself. Wanting to be clear – if Social Services covers the costs to cremate him, would that make me ineligible to request his death benefit to cover costs of burial of his ashes at a later date when I can travel to collect them? Thanks.

    • june forth

      if you live in canada call tranquility funeral services and explain your situation they will tell you what your options are they are wonderful people

  22. deborah walter

    my husband and i are common law 15 plus yrs now he’s 76yrs old and poor health iam 48yrs old and confused with what should be addressed and how now to make things easier with knowing what i can apply for as well as if at all. now can these forms be given to both of us and filled out as far as can be with information asked for? and will i be intitled to my husbands pension ccp etc.being commonlaw? does he need to put me down on these as his benificary? and if so how would he go about doing so? thank you d. walter

  23. Star

    My husband works for 4 yrs.and received letter that he is not qualified for a death benefit…I read 3 yrs. of works are needed to qualify.How true is this ?

  24. Sharon Fairfax

    would like to enquire my spouse died recently and he was 81 and I am almost 75. We are/were on the monthly cpp benefit. In trying to do my budget, see if I need to move etc. I am interested on the death benefit and if there is a portion of his cpp that will be turned over to me. I will be under 25000 a year and well below yet with just my OAS and My own CPP, not a lot, income and a small work pension he had just so I can start watching for a new apartment that won’t be too much to live in.

  25. Devona

    I’ve bought a prepaid burial plan yrs ago. Would my son be entitled to apply for the death benefit on my behalf?

  26. Marg Hanson

    My 96 year old mother in law passed away last month. Her estate was denied the cop death benefit as she only contributed for five years. She also raised 7 children. A close relatives mother passed away a few years ago and had never worked but raised 5 children and her estate received the full benefit. Why would this be?

    Thank You for your time. Marg Hanson, Alberta

  27. mike cormier

    my wife died feb,21 this year.she worked 5 years strat,cpp.and was turnd down.why.

  28. Jessie Val

    Im the next of kin, son of my mom, the eldest one and lives with me when shes still alive, widowed before she died and shes been receiving pension OAS and CPP for about 6 yrs or so and i believe shes contributing CPP when she was still living and working…i paid for the funeral, AM i eligible to apply for the CPP benefit? If so when to apply? Before 12 months after she died? What about after a year she passed away, still possible to apply for the benefit?

  29. Vera mugford

    My husband passed away end of Feb we were still married but separated he had a girlfriend but did not live together I am getting his cpp pension I was told you have all the information so I do not have to sent in the death form in this correct

  30. Joy

    My husband and I are separated not divorced we live in different provinces he’s not in a good state of mind living in a home. Am I entitled for his benefits in future if anything happens

  31. Margaret Moise

    My husband hasn’t worked in over 33 years, he gets cpp monthly would he be eligible for a death benefit when he passes

  32. Pauline Wessell

    My ex-husband passed away in November,2018 and his sister received 1/2 of his CPP Death Benefit to help with his service and she told me that I was entitled to the other 1/2 —how do I go about receiving it?

  33. Cleo Gardiner

    My husband has (end stage) cancer. We became common law Apr 2 2009 and were legally ma?ried Apr 2,2019. If he passes before 9 mos. Of ma?riage am I eligible for death or survivor bemefits?

  34. lissa

    my brother who passed away had been on ODSP for the last 10 or so years. would ODSP have collected the CPP death benefit or should i , as next of kin , apply for it?

  35. P moyer

    A friend and co worker of mine is got 6-24 months to live she needs a kidney transplant but does not qualify she has rented a room shared accomidation for 6 yrs .. she has no estate as she is on ccp disability since she was 45 double amputee .. her Cpp was so small in contributions that ministry tops her up every month… we went together to make her last requests at a funeral home and she put my name down as the person to take care of her final requests .. I will b paying out of my tiny disability pension for some kind of memorial service .. do I qualify for any portion of the 2500 death benifits …

  36. Anna

    You state “…The deceased has to have contributed to the CPP for at least three years….” My husband died in May 2018. I was told that I was not eligable for the CPP benefit because my husband had not paid into CPP for TWENTY years! (He has paid into CPP for over 3 yrs) I asked and re-checked but they came back with the same answer at Service Canada. This caused significant hardship. Why would they tell me I was not eligable???

  37. Kayla collins

    My daughter father passed away when she was 6 weeks old….. he was only 21 so it is unlikely that he contributed much into cpp…. is there any benefits that she would be entitled to… any help would be much appreciated….
    One stressed out momma

  38. Barry

    I am the estate of my late mother. I am her oldest son and was granted this in court. My question is, I never applied for the death benefit and she passed away in 2013. She took her own life at the age of 52. She was a nurses aid for 10years and has paid into her CPP every since. Would I be entitled to collect the death benefit?? I have filled out the forms and sent in proof of death, all of the documents required. I signed and sent it in this year.

  39. Barry

    Next question, is it to late for me to get the death benefit?? Also would I get the max payout of 10,000 for her contribution for her 10 year period

  40. Barry

    Hi, my name is Barry. My mother passed away in 2013. She has contributed over 10 years of her life. She has paid a big large sum into it. I was granted threw court for my mother’s executor or estate. Is it to late for me to collect the death benefit? I also paid out of my own pocket. She committed suscide so I didn’t bother sending in the forms for it. Spent some years trying to get my self together after what I saw and had to deal with.

  41. Mellonie

    I was married to my husband for 16 years. He passed away 14 years ago I wasn’t sure if I could apply for this. He wasn’t remarried
    I am remarried can I still apply for his cpp benifits

  42. Mellonie

    Sorry I was married for 16 years then got a divorce. He passed away 14 years ago. I am remarried now. Can I still apply for his cpp benifits

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