Disability Pension Program
A CHANGE TO DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR TEACHERS
As of August 1, 2014, disability benefits for Nova Scotia teachers are now provided from the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union (NSTU) Long Term Disability (LTD) Insurance plan. Prior to this, disability benefits were provided as disability pensions through the Teachers’ Pension Plan (TPP).
- If you are currently in receipt of a disability pension through the TPP, you will continue to receive your disability pension payment from the Plan.
- For teachers who were on unpaid sick leave as of June 30, 2014, you may still be able to qualify for a disability pension payable from the TPP; however, no applications for disability pensions may be accepted after July 31, 2016.
- For teachers whose unpaid sick leave began after June 30, 2014, you must apply for disability benefit support through the NSTU LTD Insurance plan.
How does this impact my Pension Plan contributions and pensionable service?
If you begin receiving disability benefits from the NSTU LTD Insurance plan, you will be required to make pension contributions to the TPP, and these will be matched by your employer. This means that you are able to continue to accrue pensionable service while in receipt of your disability benefits.
This represents a significant improvement over the previous arrangement, where a teacher receiving a disability pension through the TPP, would have their pensionable service essentially frozen at the time that the disability pension began being paid. In essence, the amount of service would remain at the amount the teacher had attained prior to having become disabled.
Can I purchase service for any time that I am not covered?
If you are receiving disability benefits from the NSTU LTD Insurance plan, you may be able to purchase pensionable service for the time that you were absent from duty on unpaid sick leave.
Contingent upon being approved to receive disability benefits, you may be able to purchase this service without having to return to work for 50 days.
If you wish to purchase service, but have not been approved for disability benefits under the NSTU LTD Insurance plan, you will still be required to return to work for 50 days prior to being able to purchase that service.
For more information on this change and other 2014 Teachers’ Pension Plan changes, please refer to the following link: http://www.novascotiapension.ca/teachersplan/news
The Teachers’ Pension Plan Trustee Inc. oversees and manages the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Pension Plan. The Trustee Board has reviewed the Teachers’ Pension Plan’s disability pension program, with a focus on compliance with the Income Tax Act and ensuring that pension benefits are consistent for all pensioners.
These changes impact the following areas:
- Eligibility to Apply for a Disability Pension
- Self-Assessment and Medical Review Requirements
- Compliance of the Disability Pension Program and the Teachers’ Pension Plan
Eligibility to Apply for a Disability Pension
(as per section 17 (7) (a) and (b) of the regulations)
In order to apply for a disability pension, partial or total, you must first be eligible. The Nova Scotia Pension Services Corporation (Pension Services Corp.) verifies the eligibility of all applicants at the time of application. If an applicant is eligible to receive a regular unreduced service pension, having enough years of service and age to be eligible, they are not eligible to apply for a disability pension. Rather, Pension Services Corp.’s client service consultant will help them to apply and prepare for a regular unreduced service pension.
Self-Assessment and Medical Review Requirements
(as per section 17 (4) (a) (b) and (c) of the regulations)
Applicants or pensioners already in receipt of a disability pension shall provide to the Plan administrator such medical reports and participate in such independent medical assessments as may be required in the absolute discretion of the administrator at least bi-annually, or more frequently as the Plan administrator may request. Such reports must be completed by a medical doctor licensed to practice in Canada, and must be provided up to the date the applicant/disability pensioner attains age 65.
The medical report shall be in the form and contain the information necessary, as determined by the administrator. The report must provide a confirmation of whether the applicant is able to perform the regular duties of his/her employment, and shall include information to assist in the accommodation of them in the workplace, if applicable.
If an applicant/disability pensioner fails to provide all the necessary information required by the Plan administrator on a timely basis and in the form and manner specified by the Plan administrator, payment of a disability pension may be delayed, suspended, or denied.
Effective July 1, 2011, the Pension Services Corp. will no longer administer the medical reviews as required by this section; rather, the firm of Morneau Shepell will now provide all medical adjudication services. If you are contacted by a Case Manager from Morneau Shepell, please continue to work with them as you would have with your prior contact at the Pension Services Corp. Morneau Shepell's phone number is 1-800-465-5812.
Compliance of the Disability Pension Program and the Teachers’ Pension Plan
(as per Section 13 (1), 16 (2) (3) (4) and (5); 19 (4) (5) and (6) of the regulations)
The Income Tax Act requires that pensions be integrated when the plan member reaches, or would have reached age 65, and is able to also benefit from the Canada Pension Plan. As a result of the change in legislation, we have reviewed every disability pension currently in pay.
In those instances where the current disability pension payment does not comply with the requirements of the Income Tax Act and the Plan text, we adjust the payment amount to comply with these requirements.
For those disability pensioners who are not yet age 65, there will not be any change to the disability pension payment amount, at this time. In future, when age 65 is attained or would have been attained by the original pensioner, in the case of survivor pensions, the disability pension payment will be reviewed to ensure that it complies with the Plan rules and the Income Tax Act, and may be reduced.
In the event that any disability pension payment amount must be reduced, upon attainment of age 65, we will provide at least 60 days’ advance notice of the change.