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Canada Pension Plan Survivor Benefits

(Information courtesy of Service Canada)

Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits are paid to a deceased contributor’s estate, surviving spouse or common-law partner and dependent children. There are three types of benefits:

The Canada Pension Plan death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment made to the deceased contributor’s estate. If there is no estate, the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the surviving spouse or common-law partner or the next of kin may be eligible, in that order.

The Canada Pension Plan survivor’s pension is paid to the person who, at the time of death, is the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased contributor. If you are a separated legal spouse and there is no cohabiting common-law partner, you may qualify for this benefit. If your deceased same-sex common-law partner contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, you could be eligible for survivor’s benefits.

The Canada Pension Plan children’s benefit is paid to a dependent natural or adopted child of the deceased contributor, or a child in the care and control of the deceased contributor at the time of death. The child must be either under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university.

To qualify for any or all of these benefits, you must have contributed to the CPP for a minimum number of years. Your spouse or common-law partner and children must also meet certain conditions.

Frequently asked questions:                                                                              

Can I receive combined retirement pension and survivors benefit?

If you are receiving a monthly survivors benefit from the Canada Pension Plan and you apply for your CPP retirement pension, you will receive a combined monthly benefit.

Similarly, if you are receiving your CPP retirement pension and you apply for a survivors benefit following the death of your spouse or common-law partner, you will receive a combined monthly benefit. To a maximum allowable amount.

Will I lose my pension if I remarry?

No. Your pension will continue even if you remarry.

Note, this is a change in the rules that took place in 1987. If you previously lost a Canada Pension Plan survivor benefit because you remarried, contact Service Canada to find out if you are now eligible.

Who should complete the application?

As the survivor, you are responsible for applying for your monthly pension. If you are incapable of applying, you may have a representative (such as a trustee) apply for you.

If you are caring for a dependent child of the deceased contributor and the child is under the age of 18, you should also apply for the children’s benefit on behalf of the child. However, children under age 18 who are living on their own may complete their own application.

Dependent children who are between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university should apply for the children’s benefit themselves.

The executor, administrator or a legal representative of the estate should apply for the death benefit. If there is no estate, the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the survivor or the next of kin may apply, in that order.

How do I apply?

You must complete an application. The kit contains the information and instructions as well as a list of documents you will need to include with your application.

It is important that you apply for this benefit as soon as possible.

For information and a link to the application kit, visit


  1. Natalie Dalton  October 19, 2011

    Interesting information. I have been looking into a canada pension plan but I didn’t know how all the benefits worked for my survivors. I am glad to know that if I end up remarrying I won’t lose my pension.

  2. Barbara Talbot  March 31, 2012

    I would like to know how to add the person I co-habitate with can receive my Canada Pension Benefit when I am deceased? Please advise me of the details on how I can make these arrangements.

    Thank you.

    Barbara Talbot

  3. Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
    Jennifer ( Founder)  April 3, 2012

    Barbara in order for a common law partner to receive the CPP Survivor Benefit they need to complete the Application for Survivor’s Pension. There is nothing that you must do prior to the death. On the application there is information they will need like your SIN and legal name and other information. As well they will be required to sign declaring that all information is true.

  4. Dora  June 26, 2012

    In a case where one was once widowed, receives a survivor’s benefit, has remarried, is also receiving the cpp pension, and the new spouse dies, would this person receive additional benefit after being widowed again.

    • Ted  July 29, 2012

      I would like the answer to this question as well

    • Profile photo of Janet
      Janet  March 12, 2013

      You can only receive a survivor’s pension from one spouse, but they will pay the larger. Go to this link to see the details.

    • Carly  July 23, 2015

      My answer is NO! The governments answer is : yes, you will receive a combined pension. meaning they will give you bits and pieces of all the pensions you are entitled to, but not their full amount.

      for instance;

      I am a widow. I became disabled a few years back. Now I am entitled to a disability pension. My widows pension and my sons survivor benefits have been cut back as we aren’t allowed to “double dip” was the words the government used. We are only allowed to have a certain amount of money per month. (which is less that if I were on welfare)

      So for instance
      if your widows pension is $600
      and your other pension is $800

      You will only receive $1200 regardless. (depending on your situation)

      EVEN THOUGH your widows pension/survivors benefits are based on YOUR SPOUSES INCOME, an income they would have received had they lived long enough to retire.

  5. jean  November 8, 2012

    Can you please let me know why we have an age limit on when you can be a widow in Canada. This just sound absured… Who decided that you have to be 35 before you could collect widows pension.

  6. carol  January 18, 2013

    i liketo found out if i remarried would i still get the widows pension

  7. Profile photo of Sadie MacPherson
    Sadie MacPherson  February 19, 2013

    I agree Jean. I am 28 and widowed and was just looking into applying for the pension benefit when I found out I had to be 35 to be Eligible. I’ve been looking ever since and it would seem that there is nothing available to help young widows. Astonishing!

    • Carly  July 23, 2015

      When did this come into effect? I was widowed when I was 25. I received my widows pension and my sons survivors benefits immediately.

      I am fighting the government on pension issues. I would love to hear what you are going through.

  8. Laura  February 26, 2013

    I am a widow receiving CPP and survivour benefits. I will be 65 in 2014. I ahve been told when I apply for OAS I will lose my surviour benefit and will only receive CPP and OAS. What happens to the money that my husband paid into CPP for 45 years do I not continue to receive this.

    • Profile photo of Janet
      Janet  March 12, 2013

      Applying for OAS has nothing to do with the amount of CPP you will receive. You can receive both your CPP retirement pension as well as the CPP survivor benefit but up to a certain limit. You will only lose the CPP survivor benefit if your CPP retirement benefit is the maximum that can be received. I agree that this seems punitive if you both contributed for years.

      • Muriel  March 1, 2015

        Hi ,my first husband died 10 years ago and I have been receiving the survivors benefit . I remarried ,and I still receive the survivors benefit . My husband will be turning 65 in less than 5 years ,does this affect my benefit? I do not get my OAS untill I’m 67 due to the change the government made ,so when I turn 67 will I lose the survivors benefit ? I do not qualify for Canada Pension

    • Randall  January 17, 2014

      I am in a similar position. I turn 65 in two months (mar 2014). My mother still receives her survivor benefits. She is 88. It would seem that the Harper governments initiative to save money led to the decision that people who turn 65 were no longer entitled to survivor benefits. I guess the dead can not object and survivors like you and I are not in the majority. I have not noticed that they cancel any MP or former MP benefits for people over 65.

  9. Renee  March 10, 2013

    That’s not true, I am 34 and am receiving survivor Benifits

  10. Cecilia  March 25, 2013

    Can you collect EI and a widow’s pension? I am losing my job at the end of the year.

    • julie  May 2, 2015

      Yes, Cecilia, you can still collect both EI and your pension. I am doing that right now…hope this helps. By the way, I’m also remarried and still get my Widows pension.

  11. Profile photo of Cindy Bailey
    Cindy Bailey  May 25, 2013

    I had the same thing happen. My husband was diagnosed and died in 3 mos. and the doctor I worked for part-time only a few hours a week was retiring his office. I couldn’t even qualify for unemployment ins. But I don’t know the answer I bet you can.

  12. Julia  June 21, 2013

    My husband died at the age of 34, I was 33. I am 37 now and I receive Widows pension and my son gets CPP after my deceased husband.
    Do I still receive widow’s pension if I ever decided to remarry?
    Thank you,

  13. Susan  July 7, 2013

    What is the difference between widows security benefits and widows allowance.

    • Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
      Jennifer ( Founder)  July 11, 2013

      The Survivor Benefit is the name of the benefit paid by CPP to the surviving spouse. It used to be referred to as “Widows Allowance” but the name was changed because it applies to widows and widowers.

  14. Jo-Ann  October 18, 2013

    I met my husband when I was 13..We lived common law for 13 years .. Married in 1991 and separated in 2003.( not legally).
    He passed away in July 2013 the age of 56..
    He lived common law for 3 years with a girl he met.. .before he died..
    We were still legally married when he died
    Why is it after 25 years I can’t receive any of his CPP…??…and she receives everything??
    We remained friends and I loved his dearly…It doesn’t seem to make sense??

    • Lorraine  December 4, 2015

      You should have fought this and even got a lawyer to look into it, because the same situation happened to me in 1996 and I got my survivors benefit, we separated in 1993 and he died in 1996 he was living with some one at the time but I was was his legal wife, I received my benefits and still do now and even when I re married I did.

  15. marie  November 4, 2013

    I have been receiving the survivor benefit for 25 yrs. I would like to apply for the allowance for the survivor as I am now between 60 – 65 and retired. If I was in a common law situation for a period of three years, but now am not, do I still qualify for this allowance?

  16. Sandy  January 18, 2014

    Would my children loose their benefit we in with a new partner?

  17. Sherri  March 21, 2014

    I would like to ask a complex question. My children’s grandmother left their grandfather and 3 young children about 57 years ago. She divorced him not long after and remarried. He brought the children up and had a senior position in the government. Sadly he died in his early 50s about 1978. He never remarried. She is still alive. The second husband is dead. She is trying to get some of her first husband’s pension. Is this feasible? I think the children should receive any monies.

  18. Carol  March 23, 2014

    Is a person still considered common law if living in shared accommodation and living financially independent in a platonic relatyionship

  19. Rosemary  March 31, 2014

    I am still confused, I am receiving the Survivors Pension, and also applied for my CPP, but I don’t know if I have been getting the CPP widows pension, how do I know if I have been receiving this?
    And it is my understanding that they cut off your Survivors Pension (benefit) when you start to get OAS, is this the case??

  20. Anna  April 4, 2014

    I was widowed at age 38.. I rec’d a reduced Amt of survivors pension because i was younger than 45. Well i am now 45! So does my survivors pension increase now?

  21. leanne  April 10, 2014

    Hi, I was 34 with children when I was widowed in 2005 so I do collect survivors pension. However, I read somewhere that because I was under 35 at the time of bring widowed, that once my youngest child turns 18 (later this year), that I will no longer receive my survivors pension afterwards. Is this true?

  22. elena  May 18, 2014

    I am receiving survivors benefits my question is will I receive until the day I die?

  23. john  May 19, 2014

    hi sadly my wife died in 2002 I receive a widowers pension from her employment which is through Canada life, if I remarry ,would I still be eligible for this . thankyou

    • Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
      Jennifer ( Founder)  June 27, 2014

      You would need to follow up with the company to know for sure if you would still receive the pension after remarriage. All company pensions are set up differently with different benefit periods and survivor options to choose from.

  24. Linda Pitawanakwat  July 3, 2014

    I was wondering when you how old you have to be before you loose you CPP allowance?

  25. Courtney  August 30, 2014

    I am 28 and my husband passed away almost 3 years ago I am looking to get remarried and my fiance wants to legally adopt my children would they loose their orhpan benefits? or can I just legally change their name and not have them adopted??

  26. brenda  January 29, 2015

    after you apply for survivor benefits how long should or does it take to receive? still waiting since oct 2014

  27. Ann  February 2, 2015

    I am currently receiving Survivor’s pension and am in a common-law relationship. We are now pregnant and expecting very soon, I have no other children. My question is what happens to my Survivor’s pension if I was do die? Would my new spouse be entitled or my child for that matter or does this pension cease to exist upon my death? Might seem like a ridiculous question but thought I would ask.

  28. sherry  February 20, 2015

    I will be moving to Vancouver bc will my widows allowance continue

  29. Russ Hall  February 27, 2015

    Great information. How come my mother gets her survivors pension cut by 2/3 without notice and we can not get through to Service Canada Pension people on the phone to question the issue? Call the O Canada number and they give me a snotty run around with no alternate contact.

  30. Hope Way  September 9, 2015

    What if you have been on Ontario Works and your spouse has just passed? We were separated and he was working…do I still qualify for the survivors pension as we were still married?

  31. Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
    Jennifer ( Founder)  September 11, 2015

    Every person’s situation is different. You should call Service Canada to find out what you are entitled based on your specific situation. Their number is 1-800-277-9914.

  32. Michelle  November 12, 2015

    We are legal guardians of a minor child.
    Her grandmother had legal guardianship of her but passed away in 2012
    The minor child is receiving child survivors benefit.
    We are int he process of legally adopting her.
    We have been told she will no longer get this benefit. Is that true?

    Her grandmother, when divorced from her husband went after her husbands pension, hence her receiving and making her grand daughter eligible for survivor benefit.

    Can the pension go back to the grandfather or does she keep getting it or does no one?

    • Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
      Jennifer ( Founder)  November 15, 2015

      I am looking into some additional details and then I should have some guidance for you.

      • Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
        Jennifer ( Founder)  November 27, 2015

        It sounds like the minor child you are adopting would satisfy the definition of “Child of the Contributor” at the time of death. So based on the research that I have done it would look like the Children’s benefit should continue. However to know exactly based on the specific situation you should call Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914.

  33. Sandra  November 18, 2015

    Phew! I had no idea about a widow’s pension etc. I was married in 1987 and my husband passed away in 1994. What do I qualify for if anything?

  34. Sandra  November 18, 2015

    I was married in 1987. My husband passed away in 1994. What if anything am I entitled to receive. I heard nothing about a widow’s pension etc. until today.

    • Profile photo of Jennifer ( Founder)
      Jennifer ( Founder)  November 20, 2015

      You should contact Service Canada to find out what you may be entitled. If your husband was working and paid into CPP over the years then you should be entitled to receive a Survivor’s Benefit. You can reach Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914. When you call you should have yours and your husband’s Social Insurance Number for them to look up your specific information.


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