The nature of an inquiry or complaint determines whether a plan beneficiary should contact the pension plan administrator (administrator) or the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) for assistance.
Questions for the Administrator
The administrator maintains all data on a plan beneficiary’s entitlements under the pension plan. Therefore, questions or concerns about the plan beneficiary’s entitlements under the plan, or the provisions of the plan, should be directed to the administrator. These include, but are not limited to, the following matters:
- the name and registration number of the pension plan;
- brochures or other information that describe the pension plan;
- contribution requirements;
- the pension formula and calculations;
- annual pension statements;
- termination options;
- the retirement age and options;
- plan beneficiary designations;
- survivor benefits; and
- spousal benefits.
Questions or concerns should be sent to the administrator in writing, either by letter or e-mail. The plan beneficiary should ask the administrator to provide a written response. The administrator should be able to provide the written response within 30 days of receiving the inquiry. For details on how to contact the administrator, see How to Contact the Pension Plan Administrator.
If the plan beneficiary is unable to resolve an issue with the administrator, or has concerns about contacting the administrator directly, he/she may write to FSCO for assistance. For more information, see How to Send an Inquiry or Complaint to FSCO.
Questions for FSCO
FSCO does not keep personal data about individual plan beneficiaries. Therefore, FSCO staff are unable to answer questions about a plan beneficiary’s individual benefits and entitlements. If the plan beneficiary would like FSCO to contact the administrator on his/her behalf, he/she must provide FSCO with written authorization to do so (pension and privacy laws require FSCO to obtain the plan beneficiary’s consent). When FSCO assists a plan beneficiary, its objective is to ensure that the pension plan is being administered in compliance with the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) and regulations, and the pension plan.
Plan beneficiaries may also wish to contact FSCO about the following matters:
- the minimum standards that apply to registered pension plans in Ontario;
- inquiries about an administrator (e.g., contact information);
- a complaint or concern that cannot be resolved with the administrator, or that was not addressed to the plan beneficiary’s satisfaction (e.g., a concern relating to his/her pension benefits under the pension plan);
- the administrator is not responding to the plan beneficiary’s questions or concerns; or
- the administrator’s misconduct or breach of the PBA and regulations.
To learn how to file a complaint or make an inquiry with FSCO, see How to Send an Inquiry or Complaint to FSCO.
Questions about Personal Financial Matters
There are some questions that neither FSCO nor the administrator can answer. The following are types of questions that require the plan beneficiary to make a personal choice. These questions may have an impact on or deal with personal matters. Some of these questions include:
- which investments should be selected for a defined contribution account;
- which termination options should be selected (e.g., whether to take a pension or transfer the commuted value to a locked-in retirement account);
- which survivor options should the retiring member and his/her spouse choose (e.g., joint and survivor annuity or single life annuity); or
- whether or not to consent to a surplus sharing agreement (e.g., for a plan that is distributing surplus assets).
For these types of questions, plan beneficiaries are encouraged to seek expert and independent advice from various professionals (e.g., financial planning consultants, lawyers who specialize in pension law, actuaries, accountants, etc.).