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When a spouse loses their partner, benefits are available to them through the government, such as the CPP Survivor’s Pension.

What is the CPP Survivor’s Pension?

Thanks for your email, Kevin. Losing a spouse or common-law partner is one of the most challenging experiences we can face in our lifetimes. The Canadian government does offer a benefit payment program under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) program for surviving spouses that could be payable to you if you qualify. It is called the CPP Survivor’s Pension, and it is a monthly payment paid to the survivor that helps to cover the pension payment the deceased would have received while still alive.

Who can qualify for survivor benefits?

The CPP Survivor’s Pension benefit is only payable to select Canadians. To qualify, the applicant must be legally recognized as the common-law partner to or married to the deceased. For married people, both people’s names are on the marriage license. And to be deemed common-law, partners must be two people in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. The Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union form needs to be completed to declare a common-law relationship.

How much is the CPP Survivor’s Pension?

The amount varies from couple to couple, as the survivor’s benefit payment is based on a calculation of a variety of factors, Kevin. Here’s what you need to calculate how much you may receive from a survivor benefit:

  1. The CPP benefit amount that the deceased received before they passed away or would have received by age 65.
  2. The surviving spouse’s age. If they are older than 65, then they will receive 60% of the CPP pension listed in step 1. If they are younger than 65, they will receive a flat-rate portion and 37.5% of the CPP pension from step 1.
  3. This final step depends on whether the surviving spouse already receives other CPP benefits. For example, if they already receive a disability pension or the CPP retirement pension, they cannot accept the full survivor benefit. The payment is combined with other benefit payments. How much is paid depends on the type of pension and the maximum benefits. The Government of Canada has published a table that outlines the different benefits and can be found on their services and benefits page.

How to apply for a survivor’s pension?

Kevin, to apply for the CPP Survivor’s Plan, you have a couple of options available to you. However, regardless of which one you choose, you can expect to receive payments approximately six to 12 weeks after Service Canada receives your application.


You can apply for the benefit by logging into your My Service Canada account and completing the application form. From there, you can drop off the requested additional information and documents to a Service Canada office closest to you. Remember that when dropping off paper documents, you should write both your and your spouse’s social insurance number (SIN) on every page, so the forms can be tracked to you.

By mail

You can print the application form found on, the federal government’s website. Fill it out and put it in an envelope along with all the required documents listed, and drop off or mail the package at the provincial or territorial Service Canada office closest to where you live. Don’t forget to include both SINs for you and your spouse on every page. And like with anything involving money, be sure to send it via registered mail if you’re not able to hand deliver it.

If more than 12 weeks have passed since you applied and you have no word from Service Canada, contact the Canada Pension Plan (1-800-277-9914). As of the date of this publication, the hold times were averaging about an hour. So, if you do call, I recommend settling in with a snack when you’re in the mood for elevator music.

Should you apply for the survivor benefit?

Kevin, the good news is that the CPP Survivor’s Pension is available to those who have lost their spouse or partner, and it can help with the loss of household income. With a little bit of homework filling out forms, you should see your payment come to you after approximately six to 12 weeks.

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