Canadians are eligible to elect their CPP benefit as early as age 60 and as late as age 70. If you elect your pension prior to age 65, your CPP benefit is reduced by 7.2% per year for each year prior to age 65. If you defer taking CPP after age 65, your benefit is increased by 8.4% per year for each year that you wait beyond age 65.
Factors to consider in CPP timing:
Cash flow needs - Do you need the cash flow now?
Life expectancy - lower than average life expectancy is an argument to take CPP early, and the converse is true for higher than average
Security – Delaying CPP results in a higher, fixed and inflation-protected income stream for as long as you live, which those without defined benefit pensions may find appealing. Those already with a reliable inflation-protected defined benefit pension may want to take CPP early to either spend it and/or invest it.
Fairness – Do you strongly resent the idea of delaying CPP but then passing away early, having not collected your “fair share” of CPP?
The value you place on younger retirement years - Some people value having more cash flow in their younger retirement years.
Employment income - In the case that you do work past age 65, you would generally delay CPP for tax purposes and to generate a higher future CPP payment.
Legacy goals – Delaying CPP means that you will be drawing down more of your personal wealth in the early years, which may affect your goals of leaving behind an estate.
Retirement timing - Your CPP is partly based on how many years you contribute. If you retire early, you may have more years of zero income going into the calculation.
Getting the information you need:
The CPP decision is highly personal and involves weighing factors both objective and subjective. Here are some tips to help make an informed choice:
Open an online My Service Canada account where you can find personalized CPP projections. Keep in mind that these estimates are calculated using lifetime average earnings, and may be skewed for those retiring early or for those expecting a different income than their past average.
For even more personalized figures, contact Service Canada at 1-800-454-8731 where you can ask a representative about different scenarios. For example, “If I retire at age 57, how much would I receive at age 60, 65 and 70?”
You can also speak to a Certified Financial Planner® about how CPP fits into your larger financial picture.
This information is of a general nature and should not be considered professional advice. Its accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed and Queensbury Strategies Inc. assumes no responsibility or liability.
Morgan Ulmer CFP®
Certified Financial Planner® professional
Morgan is with Caring for Clients, a fee-for-service financial planning firm. She is as comfortable working on complex financial planning engagements and retirement planning as she is helping young adults understand budgeting and debt management.