Planning to Retire?
Are you thinking of retiring? Before you start the retirement process, you’ll need to make sure you meet the basic eligibility criteria. Luckily, there are only two: you must be at least 55 years old and be vested with enough pensionable service. Next, you’ll need to choose your termination date and inform your employer’s human resources personnel.
Choosing a Termination Date
Generally, if you are a teacher who works 10 months of the year (including modified school calendars) and you would like to retire at the end of the school year, you would choose June 30 as your termination date. If you are an administrator (such as in Central Office) who works 12 months of the year, you will use August 31 as your termination date to receive a full year of pensionable service.
A lot of plan members who work a 10-month year ask if they will receive their deferred salary for the summer months if they choose June 30 as a termination date. The answer is yes and ATRF takes that into consideration when we calculate your pension.
Those summer paycheques and pensionable service are included in your calculation to give you a full year of service if you terminate on June 30. You will get your first pension payment in July. If you’re an administrator working a 12-month year and you resign prior to August 31, you will not receive a full year of pensionable service.
Don’t forget that the Education Act requires that you give your employer at least 30 days of written notice of your intention to resign. So, if you want a termination date of June 30, you will need to give notice no later than May 31. Once you notify your employer’s human resources personnel, you will then need to apply directly to ATRF for your pension. Your employer is not applying for you as part of your resignation process – you need to do this directly with ATRF. Also, it’s important to apply for your pension before signing a new teaching contract if you are planning to continue teaching while receiving your pension. If you do decide to return to teaching while on a pension, you will no longer accrue service, that would normally count towards your pension.
When applying for your pension online, simply sign in to your MyPension account and select Apply Online from the Member Menu. Once your pension option package is ready, you will receive an email notification that it is available in your Secure Message Centre and you will be able to complete your pension election within MyPension, significantly reducing mailing time. If your pension election is received by early July, you should receive your first pension payment at the end of July.
Applying by Mail
If you prefer to complete your forms by hand, you can obtain the Pension Application on our Planning Your Retirement page. ATRF will mail your pension option package with additional forms for you to complete and return to start receiving your pension. If you’d like to skip the mailing, you can quickly and easily submit your application online instead through MyPension.
If you are considering purchasing service , including substitute service, you can apply to purchase your service at the same time you apply for your pension, but ensure ATRF receives both applications before your termination date. Since it typically takes three months to process your pension from start to finish, and purchasing service requires additional time for processing, starting earlier is recommended. However, you can apply only up to 120 days before your termination date. To avoid additional time for mailing, apply online through MyPension.
Join a Webinar or Book an Appointment
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed trying to remember all these steps, we understand. There can be some complexities around retirement, and that’s why ATRF has a Steps to Retirement checklist that may be helpful to you.
We also regularly offer live, online webinars through Zoom called Steps to Retirement that give detailed information about the retirement process. Register for a webinar through MyPension.
ATRF also has pension counsellors available for personalized appointments to discuss your options with you over the phone, video, or in-person. You can conveniently set up an appointment online through MyPension and selecting MyAppointment.