Do You Have A Locked In RRSP?

Locked In Retirement Accounts (LIRAs) were created to transfer vested pension funds that you take with you if you leave your employer prior to retirement, such as when you change jobs.

The commuted value of the pension is transferred to a locked-in plan and must remain locked-in to be available when you retire to provide a lifetime income.

Generally, accumulated savings in a Locked in RRSP cannot be to transferred to a regular RRIF or withdrawn as a lump sum. They are transferred to a Life Income Fund, a Locked in Retirement Fund or a Life Annuity.

Do You Have a Locked In RRSP?

Do You Have A Locked In RRSP?

Pension Legislation

All the provinces and the federal government have different rules with locked-in accounts regarding minimum withdrawals and the age you can start to withdraw the money after transferring to a LIF. One difference from regular RRIFs is that there is a maximum amount that can be withdrawn annually so as not to deplete the account too soon.

Different provinces have different names for their plans.

  • Locked in Retirement Account / Locked in RRSP
  • Restricted Locked-in Savings Plan
  • Life Income Fund
  • Locked-in Retirement Income Fund (Newfoundland)
  • Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (Saskatchewan and Manitoba)
  • Restricted Life Income Fund

The legislation applies to the province where the pension was set up. So, if you worked in BC and your company’s Head Office is in Ontario, you likely are under Ontario legislation. Some people, such as government employees, may be under federal legislation. Don’t assume you know. Ask your former employer or consult your pension agreement for details.

Unlocking The Funds

One of the major problems with a locked-in account was that people did not have access to their money if they really needed it. Because of the subsequent pressure put on the governments, many provinces have now introduced rules to permit a little more flexibility.

Related: Unlocking funds from a LIRA due to financial hardship

Some provinces provide for a one-time unlocking of funds.

  • Albertans over the age of 50 can unlock up to 50% when their funds are transferred from a LIRA to a LIF. This money can be transferred into an RRSP, RRIF or taken in cash.
  • Manitobans have a similar option but must transfer the unlocked money to a PRIF
  • Ontarians can unlock up to 50% within 60 days of transferring their money into a LIF.
  • In New Brunswick, individuals can unlock up to three times the maximum annual withdrawal of a LIF up to a limit of 25% of the value of the LIF.
  • Individuals with federal pensions can do the same as Albertans but must be age 55 or over.

This is a one-time opportunity. You can unlock less than 50% but you won’t be able to take the remainder at a later date.

The benefit to unlocking the funds is that you have more flexibility to withdraw the funds when you want them without being limited to the maximum amount. If the money is transferred to an RRSP there are no immediate tax consequences.

If you already have a LIF or LRIF and you live in Ontario you can also take advantage of this option if you wish. Decide fast though. The deadline to act is April 30, 2012 and then the opportunity will be lost.

Other Ways To Access a Locked in RRSP

If you have a small balance in your LIRA you may be able to withdraw all the money. Most provinces allow this but may have different dollar amount and age restrictions. Make your request at your financial institution.

Likewise, you may be able to claim financial hardship. You may need the money for medical expenses or rent payments, for example, but be prepared to prove the need. However, not all provinces offer this option.

Taxes and Fees

Be aware of any fees that may be charged by your financial institution or the investments (such as some mutual funds) when withdrawing from your locked-in account. Also, income tax will be withheld at the time of withdrawal and you may have to pay additional tax when you prepare your tax return.

Keep in mind that withdrawing any money may affect your eligibility for government benefits.

In Conclusion

Consider your options when looking into withdrawing from your locked in RRSP. They are intended to provide you with retirement income for life and withdrawals could have a negative impact on your future.

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  1. Ellen on January 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

    This is an excellent article – thank you! I’m in Ontario and have an LIF/LRIF, but never really thought much about. It’s nice to know what my options are.

    • Boomer on January 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      @Ellen: The changes to locked in plans were much needed.
      When I worked for the bank some of my clients had paid into their company pension plans for years and then were “early retired”when they were in their 50’s. They were very much restricted by the maximum withdrawal amounts allowed at the time even though the commuted values at first glance seemed quite substantial.
      They had financial problems when there were no other resources available to them – too young for government pension plans and having difficulty finding other work because of being deemed “too old.”

  2. Marypat on January 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Do you know where we can get information about our locked in RRSP? Is there a government website that outlines the details? I believe ours is an Ontario plan as it was from Nortel. Thanks for any info you can give me.

    • Boomer on January 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

      @Marypat: First you should find out what you can from your pension documents you would have received when you left Nortel and then check with your financial institution.
      If there’s no help there go to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario –

    • Lyla on April 14, 2017 at 4:59 am

      I would like to know what my restrictions are in relation to a locked in rsp that I currently have? My former employer was the TD Bank and upon recent conversations with one of their advisors I have been told that I cannot do anything with it until I reach the age of 71… that just does not seem right ….that I will now have to stay employed with my new employer until I am seventy one? Had my position with the TD Bank not been cut just after their merger with Canada Trust I would have been elligible for retirement at 62. Something really seems wrong here. Plus would it not be governed under Ontarios rules as head office for TD Bank at that time was Ontario so would I not be elligible for one time maximum 50% withdrawal?

      • boomer on April 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        @Lyla: Banks are under federal legislation. After age 55 you can convert your LIRA to a LRIF. You then have 60 days to take advantage of the unlocking option to convert 50% of your LIRA to a regular RRSP. This would be a direct transfer of funds and doesn’t affect RRSP contribution room.

  3. wanda jurewicz on January 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Do you know where we can get information about our retirement plan in Quebec? Is there a government website or something else that outlines the details?

  4. Bob on April 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    If I had my LIF transferred directly to an RRSP in early 2012 and accordingly received an RRSP contribution slip for the 1st 60 days of 2012, can I claim all or part of the RRSP contribution against 2011 income, in spite of the fact, my T4 slip won’t be received until the 2012 tax year? I don’t have any RRSP room, but don’t think this matters for a direct transfer, and my 2011 is substantially higher than expected 2012 income.

  5. Boomer on April 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    @Bob: A contribution slip in the first 60 days of the year can be used for either the current year or the previous year. The amount will offset the T4 and won’t have any bearing on RRSP contribution room because it is a transfer.

  6. Bob on April 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

    To clarify the original question: The T4-LIF will not be received until 2013 (for the 2012 tax year). The RRSP contribution slip has been received in the 1st 60 days of 2012. Can I use the RRSP deduction against other 2011 income, a higher income year and then deal with paying the tax on the T4-LIF next year? OR do they HAVE to offet each other as a direct transfer? Thanks for your help!

    • Boomer on April 25, 2012 at 8:10 am

      @Bob: They do offset each other, but in my opinion I don’t believe they both have to be claimed the same year. As long as you realize that you will be taxed the following year.
      If in doubt, call your taxation office (please let me know if I’m wrong).

  7. Helen Hoganson on July 21, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Hi Boomer,

    I am trying to unlock + cash-in the funds from my locked-in RRSP.

    This RRSP originated from my company pension funds while I worked + resided in BC. I still work + reside in BC.

    The company’s Canadian Head Office was (is) located in Toronto + they were (are) a worldwide organization.

    I worked for the company from 1992-98 + when I left their employ, the pension funds were set up in a LIF account in Alberta.

    On an aside – their current Market Value would qualify for unlocking under the federal option for ‘small balance unlocking’ (up to $25,050 for 2012) — if they were federally regulated. I am 58 years old.

    When I spoke to my financial institution (here in BC) to arrange unlocking, their records did not indicate jurisdiction (federal/provincial). It was then that I contacted the original investment company (in Toronto) + discovered the LIF was set up in Alberta. They will be providing me with written confirmation of same.

    Apparently, these funds were transferred over to my current financial instution (from the original investment company) in 2004.

    After reading your article, I am a little more hopeful of my prospects to successfully unlock these funds, but ask now for a bit more clarification/direction, as follows:

    My question:

    Under which province’s legislation does unlocking my locked-in RRSP fall?

    . BC (where I currently work + reside; and where I worked + resided at time pension set up)?

    . Alberta (where the LIF was set up)?

    . Or, Ontario (where our Canadian Head Office was + where I expect the pension was set up — although I will obtain confirmation of this)?

    If possible, could you please respond with your thoughts/suggestions through my email?

    Thank you for your assistance.


  8. Kevin Guy on August 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Hi I have a locked in rrsp and was wondering if I could access the funds.It originated as a union pension in Ontario and was turned over to a locked in rrsp. I now live in NL.How or can I access this money.

    • Boomer on August 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      @Kevin Guy: Briefly, for Ontario plans:
      – You need to be at least 55 years old,
      -Total funds in ALL locked in accounts must be less than $20,040
      OR within 60 days of transferring to a LIF you can withdraw up to 50%
      OR life expectancy is 2 years or less
      OR experiencing financial hardship such as low income, facing eviction, medical treatment expenses, etc.

      For more information go to
      You need to complete the appropriate form and take it to the financial institution that is holding your LIRA.

      • ab on February 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        some one know if there is a agency that can help me to unlock my rrsp?

  9. Linda on August 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I got my LIF in 2011 but my financial advisor didn’t unlock
    50%, as we had discussed. She is no longer with my bank & I have a new advisor. He said there is nothing he can do about unlocking 50% of my funds. I’m very upset….is there anything I can do since my bank messed up.

  10. Linda on August 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    PS: I live in Ontario

    • Boomer on August 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      @Linda: I think your only recourse at this time is to contact your bank’s complaint department or ombudsman’s office. Their purpose is to try to resolve customer concerns or complaints. They can also refer you to additional help.

      Check with your bank (or it’s web site) for the phone number or email address.

      Good luck.

  11. mongo on August 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Hi I’m 27 yrs old. I transfered my military pension to a locked in rrsp when I left after about +3yrs. I reside in Alberta, is that $$ pretty much going to sit there until I am older or is there Any way to access a portion of this, say to pay off a line of credit? The total amount is less than $20,000. thanks

    • Boomer on August 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      @mongo: I’m assuming that your military pension is federally regulated. Unfortunately for you the regulations are pretty strict and you can’t access your funds – regardless of amount- until you are at least 55 years old.

      The only exception to unlocking a partial amount is claiming financial hardship, but the requirements for this are very stringent.

      You can get information at

      • mongo on September 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

        thanks for the reply

      • mike on January 13, 2015 at 2:11 pm

        Is the RRSP transferable to a family member who is over 55yrs?

        (Then get the money after from them)

  12. Gordon Kilpinen on September 3, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Hello. I am currently working and living in the Yukon since 2009. In 2011 I transferred my BC pension into an RRSP (locked in) at RBC as of September 2011, I had to terminate my position in BC so I could transfer my pension to my new home. RBC will not allow me to transfer any money into a Federal RRSP stating that it falls under BC Regs. But FIC states that because I was working in another province when I terminated employment that the locking – in regs do not apply to me, but instead the regs of the Yukon where I am now living and working…So who can assist me with this???FIC won’t help neither will BC Pension???
    Please help…

    • Boomer on September 3, 2012 at 11:07 am

      @Gordon Kilpinen: Company pensions – and their subsequent locked in RRSPs are regulated by either provincial or federal legislation usually depending on where the head office of the company is located.

      RBC is correct in that you can’t change this. You can however transfer your account to the Yukon for easier administration. It’s only when you start withdrawing the funds that you must abide by BC pension legislation no matter where you live.

  13. Stephanie Northcott on September 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I have a locked-in RRSP. I was wondering if it is possible to transfer it to my husband. Whether it is a partial amount or all of it.
    I thank you for your time and help =)

    • Boomer on September 12, 2012 at 8:06 am

      @Stephanie: RRSP’s are not transferrable – locked in or not. The only way it can go to your husband is on your death if he is the beneficiary.

  14. Stephanie Northcott on September 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    My locked in RRSP is now with BMO. My husband does business with RBC. We live in Alberta. Thanks.

  15. Jean Night on September 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I will be leaving my employer shortly to move east. I have locked in pension funds that will need to be transferred. It is under Federal as I worked in banking. I am 54 this year. I may need money when I move to set up house, etc. Will I be able to do this before 55 or do I have to wait til after I turn 55, under Financial Hardship rules?

    • Boomer on September 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

      @Jean Night: Financial hardship rules are pretty strict and you need documented proof. Go to to see if the rules will apply to your circumstances.

      Good luck.

  16. Tazz on October 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I have a Lira account purchased in Alberta in my bank right now from a former plan. It is just under $49,000. I also have one just under 5,000 purchased in Ontario.

    Can you please advise if there is any way to get access to this money?

    I’m 49, 50 in August and we are on the verge of financial issues. We have two credit cards going into collection. We do make good money, but a events and bad choices have cost us dearly.

    Can you please provide me with any advise you may have?

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      @Tazz: Go to and download the Alberta Financial Hardship Application Form and read it carefully to see if you might qualify for a partial unlocking. Briefly, the usual situations are low income, eviction or foreclosure,or medical expenses.

      I don’t know if you will be successful. Good Luck.

  17. IanJ on November 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Hi B&E,
    My financial advisor has notified me that there will be a $500 min annual charge for handling my lif & rrsp investments (all in bond funds). Do you know of any reputable institutions who will manage my money without additional fees? (ie: for a share of the interest on my capital)

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      @IanJ: Most financial institutions will handle RRSPs free of charge if held in mutual funds (or a small fee if not their own funds). Discount brokerages will waive their fee (about $100 annually) if the total of all accounts is greater than $50,000 – $100,000.

      Do you need your financial advisor to manage your accounts and provide ongoing advice and other services? If not, drop him and go to your own financial institution first to see if they can provide the service you need. Some advisors provide excellent service that is worth the fees they are paid but if that’s not what you require there’s no point in paying so much.

  18. Garnet on November 8, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Hi there, I have a lira from the closure of John Deere Welland Works
    in 2009. The amount is under 10,000. I have been living in
    Saskatchewan for 3 years now. I have read in the legislation that
    early this year there was a window that allowed you to withdraw a
    portion of the funds. I stumbled upon this today so obviously too
    late. I also read that the financial institution was required to
    inform us of these changes, and after talking to several former
    co-workers I’ve learned that they did not do this for any of us. Just
    wondering if I was correct in what I read, and if there’s anything I
    can do about it at all. I don’t need the money, have excellent income
    and great company paid pension, but If I had the choice I would have
    moved it to my daughters resp. Thanks for any advice….even if I’m up
    the proverbial creek without a paddle.

    • Boomer on November 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      @Garnet: Personally, I would never rely on my financial institution to advise me on any changes in legislation that would affect my holdings. I think, by law, they are only required to advise on changes to fees and terms and conditions to their own products.

      I’m supposing your employer was in Ontario (?). Ontario allowed the unlocking of up to 50% of a LIF up to April 2012 so yes, you are too late for that. Otherwise, if you are older than 55 you can unlock a plan if less than $20,040 or $9,600 for all ages. Go to for further and/or updated information and an application form. Be aware you will still be required to pay tax on unlocked funds.

      • Garnet on November 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

        Thanks for the quick reply….it would have been nice….but I guess I have something to look forward to for the next 23 years haha.

        I do have another question; I am just getting started with investing and have an rrsp, resp, and tfsa. I would like to “play” around with stocks a little. Could you recommend some reading or books that would help someone who is very fresh and little to no knowledge? Thanks

        • Boomer on November 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

          @Garnet: Here is a list of good beginner investing books:
          Wealthy Barber
          Wealthy Barber Returns
          Millionaire Teacher
          The Millionaire Next Door
          How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents

          To find your investment style check out these websites:

          Good luck with your investing.

  19. chris on November 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Hi, I have a lock-in RPP with great-west Life, in Ontario. I’ve
    recently changed jobs so now I have my options with what I can do with my fund.

    My question is, is there anyway to unlock any of this fund.

    I am in a bit of debt so this would help greatly.

    • Boomer on November 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

      @chris: I would contact Great West Life directly. You may be able to take the cash depending on the amount and whether it has vested (usually 2 years). You will have to pay tax on the withdrawal.

      Another option is to transfer your RPP to you new job and carry on, or transfer to a locked in RSP. can give you further information.

  20. Diane on November 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Our original investments thru our advisor was in segregated funds.

    When my husband passed, it was at the very end of the lock-in.

    I met with the advisor to transfer the investments to my name as I was sole beneficiary and he invested everything in segrated funds again!

    Was this in my best interests? Also I have continued a RRIF which we had previously been getting for a couple of years from FEL and since my husband’s death I am now being charged a fee on each withdrawal from my RRIF.

    Thank you for your advice and time.

    • Boomer on November 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      @Diane: Ask your advisor for the reasons why he made this investment – make sure you understand how it benefits you. In my opinion you should definitely get a second opinion. Find a fee based financial planner who will take a look at how your portfolio is structured and give you some advice.

      If you set up a RRIF withdrawal schedule – monthly, quarterly, annually, whatever works for you – there should be no fees for the minimum required amount. Some financial institutions will charge for withdrawals over the minimum limit, so if you need more, make a one time annual withdrawal to minimize the fees.

      Any amounts over the minimum are subject to withholding tax which is claimed as tax paid on your income tax return. It is not a fee, so check to see if this is the case.

  21. Brent Petch on November 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Shame on the locked in mutual funds in BC i am in serious financial distress but in BC i lose everything before i can withdraw a small amount from my money. what kind of system do we have when in will be homeless but hey that’s ok I’ll have money when I’m 55 big deal locked in mutual funds should be accessible in any province in Canada when there is financial distress wtf is going on with BC.

    • Boomer on November 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      @Brent Petch: What people don’t seem to realize is that these funds were set aside by your employer to provide pension income when you retire. If it was still in the pension fund you wouldn’t have access to the money anyway until then. When you leave the company you are given the option to administer the funds yourself instead of leaving the money in the pension plan. This doesn’t mean you can access it whenever you like. It still has to perform it’s original function – pension income. That’s why it’s locked in.

      I’m sorry that you are in financial distress. I hope you are able to find a solution.

  22. M. KHAN on December 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Boomer, i used to work for a union company in Alberta. Certain amount of my hourly wage was being accumulating in a pension plan managed by a company out of B.C. I was laid off after working with the union company after 4 years. The Pension management company informed me to either leave the funds with them and it’ll grow or take it out. so i took the funds out of the management company’s account and had to place the funds in to a locked-in RRSP in my bank. I am a Precious Metals investor i physically hold silver and gold bullion in my possession. I would like to purchase silver bullion with the Locked-in RRSP and physically hold the bullion my self. i was informed by my bank that i won’t be able to do that or buy certificates for silver. Is there any way i could purchase precious metals as an investment and hold it myself.

    • Boomer on January 3, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      @M. KHAN: Physical gold, silver and precious metals that you have in your possession are not eligible investments for RRSPs. You can hold shares in the form of ETFs and mutual funds. (Keep in mind the higher MERs of mutual funds).

      Example are:
      Royal Canadian Mint (TSX -MNT)
      SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE-GLD)

      Central Fund Canada (TSX – CEF.A) is one fund that holds actual gold and silver in its vaults.

  23. Ben on January 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I have a LIRA account currently with RBC in the amount of $40,000. I want to move this into a questrade LIRA account and invest in safe ETF’s. However, I am not sure if I can rebalance within a LIRA account (ex. sell some stock ETFs and buy some bond ETFs). Would I be allowed to do this since apparently I cannot add or subract from this account? Given that I have decades before I turn 55, what would you recommend I do with this money? Mutual funds? ETF’s ? GIC’s?

    • Boomer on January 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      @Ben: If you want to open a self-directed LIRA account you will be able to purchase and trade any eligible investments within the account. You just can’t add any more money to it.

      When you open your account, make sure you have all your pension paperwork handy as you have to give info on which province your ex-pension is legislated under.

      Which investments you hold in the plan depends on your overall financial situation, you tolerance for risk, etc.

      What is your investment style?
      In general, unless you have a very low tolerance for risk, I would not invest totally in GICs as the low interest rate will hamper growth.
      You could choose 4 or 5 diversified ETFs and hold them indefinitely, rebalancing periodically. Or you could purchase strong dividend paying stocks and reinvest the dividends.

      One point to keep in mind is whether the discount brokerage charges an annual RRSP fee. Typically, in most cases there is a $100 fee for accounts below $50,000.

  24. Christian on January 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    LIRA withdrawal

    My sister received approval to withdraw the max yearly allowed of $25,050 (for financial hardship reasons) from funds she has in a LIRA account.

    In order to minimize withholding taxes she asked the bank to deposit the money to her account in 5 monthly payments of $5,000 which would cost her 10% in withholding taxes.

    The bank refused saying they could only do a one time withdrawal which would cost her 30% in withholding taxes.

    Is the bank making this up or are they following government guidelines? Is there anything at all my sister can do to minimize withholding taxes short of reducing the LIRA withdrawal to $15,000 which is the point at which the bank increases withholding taxes from 10 to 30%?

    • Boomer on January 3, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      @Christian: Normally you can withdraw RRSP funds in increments of $5000 to reduce the withholding tax. In your sister’s case I would suspect that for the special reason of financial hardship, only one withdrawal is allowed.

      Financial institutions must follow government guidelines and they can be quite strict.

      Did she make the withdrawal in 2012? If so, she will likely receive all the tax withheld when she files her income tax (do it soon). Otherwise, unfortunately, she’ll have to wait until next year to be reimbursed.

      • Christian on January 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm

        Thanks Boomer

        My sister spoke with someone over at the government offices (the people who approved the LIRA withdrawal).

        They indicated that she could either withdraw the $25,050 in one lump sum and take the 30% withholding tax hit OR opt for 12 equal monthly withdrawals which would reduce withholding tax to 10% on the first $15,000.

        Option #2 while attractive from the tax rate perspective is not acceptable because my sister needs to withdraw the amount in 5 monthly installments of $5,000 (NOT 12).

        Looks like she’s been ‘snookered’ as are most people when it comes to cashing RRSP’s and, in this case LIRA, funds and having to cough up 30% in withholding taxes and then wait a year for the tax refund.

        This is a game the government’s been playing for years. I myself was hit hard (RRSPs) over 20 years ago and my father was hit in the 1960’s and 1970’s !

        Nothing new or surprising in the end. It’s easier for the government to levy 30% from someone who can’t afford to argue and fight back than from someone who can!

  25. Phil on February 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Hi Boomer, I have a Locked In RRSP (LIRA I think) from working with a major airline for over 16 years – which was federally regulated. I left there four years ago and was repeatedly told I could not access these funds in any way except being of proper age or financial hardship. However, I’ve been looking into this more and some financial specialists say that it can be access for specific investment purposes. I do have my financial investor currently managing the funds but I still cannot access them. Is there any way to access these funds towards purchasing a home or even an investment property? If so who could I contact because no one seems to be aware, yet others say it is possible.
    Help please.

    • Boomer on February 19, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      @Phil: As mentioned, you can’t access locked in funds earlier unless the amount is small or you are suffering from financial hardship – the rules depend on the provincial (or federal) legislation for your plan.

      You can however purchase the same investment vehicles in a LIRA as you can with a regular RRSP. This can include holding a mortgage on your residence if you have enough funds available. There are restrictions and costs involved and you need to open a self directed account. Ask your financial institution if they offer it. Research it carefully to see if it will work for you.

      Check out

      There’s less flexibility once you have to convert to a LRIF. By the time you celebrate your 80th birthday, you must purchase a life annuity from the remaining funds.

  26. Tony on March 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Boomer. I’m confused about something I read on a govt site. If I was to w/d locked in rsp’s due to Financial Hardship, what is the tax calculation, assuming 30%. Assume I w/d $20,000. Is the tax taken FROM the $20,000 therefore netting about $14,000 or is it taken from my rsp in ADDITION. In other words $20,000 to me and $6000 wd on top of that? Thanks for your help!


    • Boomer on March 3, 2013 at 11:24 am

      @Tony: The tax comes off your withdrawal amount. So, if you need $20,000 you would have to withdraw approximately $28,600.

  27. liam on April 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm


    I have a locked in rrsp 85000.00 with cibc was in contact with an investment company in Montreal which said the could cash it in for 50% of face value but i had to transfer it to National bank,Ive done this but im having trouble making contact with them again my friend did this last year and got about 20000.00 from them do you know of companies that offer this

    • Boomer on April 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

      @liam: Sorry, I know of no reputable companies that will cash in locked in RRSPs except for the situations I’ve mentioned above. This money was originally set up to be a pension plan on retirement and the government rules are very strict to keep to the original intention.

  28. Ryan on April 21, 2013 at 8:34 am

    laid off from a telecom organization in 2011 and my pension was transferred to a locked in rsp, however due to financial situation need to be able to take some funding out… is it possible? i live in ontario and under 55 years of age.

    • Boomer on April 21, 2013 at 9:38 am

      @Ryan: Look at your documentation to see if the pension regulations are federal or provincial (Ontario). Check the appropriate website (mentioned above) to see if you qualify for any withdrawals.

      Good luck.

  29. Dee on April 29, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I took an early retirement at age 57 and was in a contributory defined benefit pension plan since 1980. I am in Ontario and the pension is also registered in Ontario. I have build up a good sum in Pension and 50% in what they called it cummulated fund. I have been given a choice to transfer to annuity at 2.3% for 1st 10 yrs and 3.6% for next which I think is too conservative. To transfer out to other opportunities, I have to take the cummulated funds as an income and pay higer percentage of taxes on it, while the locked in pension funds will be allowed to transfer intact. Are there options available to trasnfer out while keeping the tax rates at minimum….Thanks…Dee

    • Boomer on April 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      @Dee: I’m not sure what you mean by “cummulated fund” but generally your options at early retirement are as follows:

      – You can remain in then company plan and start receiving your monthly pension income immediately, or you may be able to wait until 60 or 65 to take the income (sometimes not)
      – You can transfer the accumulated company pension plan funds to a locked-in plan (LIRA) or an annuity.

      Funds in a LIRA must be converted to a life income funds (LIF) or an annuity by December 31 of the year you turn 71.

      If you choose the LIF you a subject to minimum and maximum annual withdrawals. By age 80 you much convert the remaining funds into an annuity.

      In any event any money you receive as payment or withdrawal (whether LIRA, LIF or pension or annuity) is taxable at your marginal tax rate.

      Dee if I’m missing something here about your situation, please clarify.

  30. Joe on May 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm


    Last year in November I left my job and transferred my RPP out to an RRSP with TD Waterhouse. I think I messed and and didn’t transfer it to a locked-in RRSP. TD Waterhouse still accepted the transfer from the pension company. I only learned about having to transfer to a locked-in RRSP account today.

    What course of action should I take to rectify this situation? I’m in BC.


    • Boomer on May 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      @Joe: You should have received some documentation from your workplace when you elected to transfer the RPP. It would have stated that it can only be put in a locked-in account. Look at your statement at “account type” in the top right hand corner.

      If there has been an error and there’s a TD Waterhouse office where you live, go directly there with the paperwork.

      If not, and you have to deal with a TD bank branch, I would call Waterhouse first and explain the situation and tell them you will be forwarding your documents (make sure you photocopy everything first) and then follow up with them.

      If the money is not in a locked-in account – they were the ones who messed up and they should rectify it at no cost to you.

  31. Christine on May 27, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Good morning. I ‘retired’ ‘resigned’ from Calgary Board of Education at 54 and 3/4 in June of 2010 JUST prior to my 55 birthday.

    Therefore, I chose the option to pull my ‘small payout’ LAPP pension.

    It was $43,000 after 17 years part-time. I got 10 percent immediately. Now I am allowed to ‘unlock’ 50 percent.

    I’ve been working on it with TD since October 2012. I am working with the manager of the branch, and they thought at first it would be 2-3 weeks. They needed to convert the LIRA to an RRSP,, then to a SIP, then to a RIF; then to an LIF (37,458), and I will get min $1135.10 per year, max 2637.06!

    I continue to sign forms, and ask questions, but still don’t have my $19,000 to buy BCE and Telus ! I could be successful in next two weeks.

    Any comment? You people rock ! Thank you.

    PS – Someone should start a business doing this. It seems quite difficult, even for a knowledgeable bank. If you need further info, just ask.

    • Boomer on May 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      @Christine: Pension plans can be very complex and no two are alike in the details. They are regulated by the government so you know what that means – reams of paperwork. Their complexity is often beyond the understanding of most bank branch employees.

      I’m assuming you are waiting for the amount of money you are able to unlock. I would try to get answers from your plan administrators. They are the ones who are supposed to be the experts.

      Thanks for your support.

  32. Laurie Boone on June 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Hi, I have a locked in RRSP lira i think which i earned via the Onterio Teachers Pension
    It is held in Newfoundland.
    I am living in England and have done so for 10years or so and am now a non resident of Canada can i unlock this fund under the non resident of Canada rule?
    many thanks for any advice that you can provide
    kind regards

  33. Keith on July 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    I have a locked in RRSP that I have been trying to withdraw money from as things are tight financially and having a son with a disability and the bank told me I couldn’t.

    So if you could help me out please that
    would be great. My RRSP is around 22,000 as right now.

    • Boomer on August 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      @Keith: You need to look at your documentation to see under which province (or federal) the pension regulations are under.

      Then go to their web site (there are several different ones in the comments above – find the one that applies to you). Check out the requirements for financial hardship to see if you qualify. If you do print out the application form and take to your bank.

      I hope you are successful. Good luck.

  34. Michelle on August 7, 2013 at 10:22 am

    My ex spouse and I settled on an RCMP Division of Pension. In the package it states that I am entitled to half of his pensionable contributions but once the application is approved, the sum which is approx. $28000 must be transferred into a locked in retirement vehicle. Is there any way around this or once transferred can I move it to another fund that I have access to? I was under the understanding that it was to be moved into just a regular RRSP account that I could access for debt repayment or a home down payment.


    • Boomer on August 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      @Michelle: It is my understanding that these pensions have a provision for survivor payments, so a Division of Pension after divorce is to provide income for you after you retire. That’s why it must be in a LIRA and subject to all LIRA (federal pension) regulations.

  35. San on September 28, 2013 at 3:21 am

    I resigned from federal crown corporation and transferred the pension money to a LIRA. If I become a non-resident, and unlock, can i transfer the funds to a RRSP? or will it be taxed when I unlock?


    • Boomer on September 28, 2013 at 11:04 am

      @San: If you become a non-resident you can’t put the money in an RRSP. In any case it will be taxed on withdrawal.

  36. Jean on October 10, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Hello, I have a locked in RRSP that was from the company I worked for back in 1990. I was told that I could not receive it until I am 65 because the company provided it. However, I had heard that I can.

    I would like to know if this is true as it has to do with needing it for Health reasons that are not covered by OHIP. Could you please let me know if I can or cannot go into it. I am now 54 years old.

    • Boomer on October 10, 2013 at 10:41 am

      @Jean: I’m assuming that your locked-in plan is under Ontario pension regulations.

      Go to their website at Click on Pensions, then Locked-in accounts. You will find information and forms – “Pension Unlocking:Non-Hardship” and “Financial Hardship Unlocking Forms.” These will provide you with the information you need. Good luck.

  37. Brian on February 13, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Hi, I am turning 55 in November. So, if I retire in June 2015(I’m in Alberta)I’m only able to take 50% out of my Company Pension?

    • Christine Tremblay on February 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Hey, Brian.
      I RESIGNED / RETIRED early from Calgary Board Ed when I was 54 years old.
      Therefore, I was able to PULL MY PENSION out $40,000 after 17 years (i was part-time).
      I pulled it out, it HAD to go into a LIRA.
      Then I was able to unlock 50% with a lot of grief, bank not too knowledgeable about HOW to do it.
      It was hard for them and me. It is now finally done, I got my $19,000, took 10,000 in 2013
      and they took 20 percent for tax.
      THEN I took the other 9,000 in 2014 (last week).
      NEXT comes the $1,000 a year for 20 years
      for the ‘other’ fifty percent !
      Any other ??, just ask.

  38. Sarah on February 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Can you claim your locked-in RRSPs when doing your income tax return? Thanks

    • Boomer on February 27, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      @Sarah: No. The contribution was already made with pre-tax income with your employer.

  39. armaan on March 31, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hello Boomer,

    I will be moving to another company and my pension plan is with Manulife. What would you suggest with the money i have in my manulife account?

    I would like to keep most of my banking and investment at one or two places. so please advise.

    • Boomer on April 7, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      @armaan: You have 2 options here armaan. You can leave it with Manulife if you are satisfied with them – they will switch you to a locked in plan that is separate from your employer’s plan. Alternatively, you can take the commuted cash value and open a locked in RRSP with any financial institution (take your paperwork with you) and then you will be able to purchase any investments of your choice.

  40. mark on April 18, 2014 at 8:14 am


    I have about 125,000 in a LIRA. I”m only 47 and lost my job. I have no guarantee of making money and am submitting a financial hardship form in Alberta. It says I should qualify for 26,000 payout. Is this correct and am I able to submit this claim as I have no guarantee of a job in the next 12 months.


    • Boomer on April 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      @mark: One situation under the “Financial Hardship” LIRA unlocking rules is:

      “Your estimated income for the next 12 months is less than two thirds of the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (i.e. less than $35,000 for 2014).

      If this is the case, submit your form to the Superintendent of Pensions with the necessary documentation. You can apply twice in a twelve month period. They would determine how much you can access.

      For further information go to

  41. Ken on May 1, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I moved to Europe and now a non-resident of Canada. I have RRSP that expired with CooperPacific Mtg of Victoria, B.C. and they will not cash in my $20K due to their financial issues and will only pay me out when its in their best interest. Do I have any legal rights to push for withdrawal?

    • Boomer on May 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      @Ken: You can unlock LIRA funds after two years of becoming a non-resident. Go to
      for how to do it. Once you have the documents competed take/send them to your financial institution and they have to release the funds.

      If for some reason they refuse, unfortunately, you may have no other recourse except to take legal action.

  42. Narci on May 28, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Hello Boomer!

    I have a quick Q
    I was working for a company and when they kick us out they transfer our pension money into a locked-in account. Now I am working for another company and they also have the pension plan is there a way that I can combine both because, when I will be leaving this company I will then have 2 small locked-in pension somewhere.

    and thank you for the good advised that you provide.

    Narci PS: I confirmed I am NOT a spammer…lol

    • Boomer on May 29, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      @Narci: You can combine your pension monies as long as they are both under the same Pension Legislation e.g. both Ontario, or both federal, etc.

      It will be indicated on your pension documents.

      If they are different, the funds will have to be kept separate.

      (I also have to confirm I’m not a spammer 🙂 )

  43. salim kabir on June 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I need help from who is generous to help me my RRSP contribution and Group retirement plan DCPP from my employer.I will 60 years next January.I want go on early retirement due to my health condition as I had twice heart attack.Much appreciated.

  44. sher on July 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    The new bc pension act will allow for withdrawal under financial hardship i keep being told its not in force and that the new regs are being written does anyone know when this may happen i have been waiting over a year and am currently on income assurance and have lost my home and anything i owni ave tried to understand the new lelegislation and follow the changes and it’s so confusing i do not understand when it will actually be effective i am desperate for help i worked fir bc government and have 80 00 locked in with my bank who knows.less information about the new changes coming than i do

    • Boomer on July 28, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      @sher: As far as I can determine, current BC pension legislation does not provide for taking money out of a locked-in account for financial hardship reasons.

      Unfortunately, new regulations have not yet been written and passed into law.

      I’m so sorry for your predicament.

  45. sam on July 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I recently lost my job and now need to make a decision on what to do with my locked in rrsp- the option to keep it there and get an annual payout once I hit 65 or to move a portion tax free and take the remainder in a payout.
    I am not sure what to do… have been there for almost 25 years and never gave it any thought before this.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Boomer on July 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      @sam: You need to think about what would work best for your situation. Possible options are:
      1. Take a monthly pension payment at age 65 which is guaranteed for life. You may be able to take a reduced monthly amount at an earlier age. How old are you now? Are you likely to get other employment before “retirement?” Would a guaranteed monthly income be beneficial to you?

      2. Switch commuted value to a locked in RRSP. How are you at building and managing a portfolio yourself. Can you manage the funds to secure a regular income at retirement without outliving your money?

      3. Payout of funds. Payouts are immediately taxable unless you have contribution room in your regular RRSP. Will you need the money to live on? Can you defer some of the payment over 2 or more years to reduce the tax hit?

      This is a big decision to make. I wish you luck.

  46. wondering on July 25, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    My father passed away this spring and left a locked in RSP with my brother and I as beneficiaries. This asses was outside his will deliberately. Now his current wife (not my mother) is withholding this asset from us, saying that as the spouse she has to sign off on this (even though it clearly states us as beneficiary, and is mentioned in my father’s will as being separate from the will). She refuses to sign off to allow us to inherit this locked -in RSP. We all live in BC and the locked-in RSP is also in BC. Can she do this?

    • Boomer on July 28, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      @wondering: Designating a beneficiary of locked-in account is restricted by the pension legislation which covers the plan.

      Unfortunately, as you have recently found out, if there is a surviving spouse, the account will pass to the spouse who must waive their spousal entitlement as set out by the Pension Benefits Standards Act, regardless of any other beneficiary designation that may have been made.

  47. giftmarket on August 5, 2014 at 7:50 am

    What’s up colleagues, its fantastic post on the topic of cultureand completely defined, keep it
    up all the time.

  48. Lobi on August 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I must say reading this thread on Locked In RRSP’s has been more informative than anything i’ve found online.
    One question or two. I have recently resigned from my position with a former employer in BC and which I reside. I got my termination letter from the Pension Plan (MPP) and I took the Commuted Value and partial cash pay out. I took the forms to TD and they filled out and submitted it to the MPP people to move it to my TD account. I have a fairly good investment knowledge and in the process of diversifying the Locked In RSP. I am in the works of purchasing a small private placement with a public company. They are offering warrants with the private placements. My question is: If the stock does well and I choose to exercise my warrants. I fill out the warrant form, give the cheque to the company, and they will give me a certificate of shares for the exercised warrants. Are these certificates available for deposit to my free trading (non-rsp) account? Or would they be only for deposit to the locked in RSP?
    Thank you for your time and advice.

  49. Boomer on August 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    @Lobi: Generally warrants are “attached” to the particular stock. They would still be part of your Locked-in account if exercised.

    This is my opinion and and I have not found any literature to substantiate it. In your case I would question your TD representative to be certain of staying within the rules.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    • Lobi on August 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks for you time. I did ask my TD person and they had no clue. Another issue is if I give the company say $25,000 to exercise a warrant (100,000 shares @ 0.25) for 100,000 share certificate. Would the $25,000 paid for the warrants be considered a RRSP contribution since the 100,000 shares are being force put into an RRSP? But the money is going directly to the company and they cannot issue RRSP contributions slips. No one seems to know this answer. That seems to contradict itself if it has to go into a RRSP account if the money paid to exercise the warrant cannot be used as a RRSP contribution.

      • Boomer on August 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

        Lobi, go directly to the source:

        The site can be hard to navigate so you can also call the enquiries line, 1-800-959-8281.

        Please share your answer when you get it.

  50. David Peirce on August 14, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Hi there, I in a case of financial hardship and have been for quite a while.I defaulted on loans from the bank where i have a locked in RRSP. If I unlock it will the bank take their money even if the debt is written off?

  51. Boomer on August 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    @Dave Pierce: Unlocking funds loses the protection from creditors provided to locked-in funds. Even though your loans were written off, the bank may still try to collect from you.

  52. dale on August 29, 2014 at 7:57 am

    We have to advise IWA by Aug 31 or asap whether to leave vested funds-(approx. 7-8 years valued at $400-$500/month @ retirement) with them till retirement, or transfer out into a LIRA.

    We are trying to get the answers we need to make the best decision we can for the short, medium, & long term. We are also currently looking at a wholesale change for all our finances to simplify & consolidate our varied fragmented holdings but need to act on the pension vesting immediately.

    I currently contribute to a 3 year defined benefit pension with the BC government while my wife has a DC plan with her company.

    Can you add any of your expertise to advise what may be in our best interest as this time? Ie Pros & cons of leaving it with IWA Vs transferring out??? Our thoughts are to LEAVE these holdings with IWA based on their level of professional & expertise.

    Obviously time is of the essence-Email at your earliest convenience with thoughts-Any & all info emailed is most appreciated!!! Any other advise relating to our review of holdings is welcome as well.

    Thanks In Advance

    • Boomer on August 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

      @Dale: I always wonder why people leave these decisions to the last minute and then panic.

      Your choices depend on your temperament.
      1. If you want a steady guaranteed income for life, stay with the pension.
      2. If you think you can manage the funds in a LIRA and want to withdraw money as needed (within the mandatory guidelines) go with the commuted value.

  53. John Z. on September 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I have a question regarding my LIRA account. I left Canada in 2010 and I’m living back to my home country. This year I was asseset by CRA as non-resident in writing and along with the forms from FSCO I applied to RBC for unlocking my LIRA account. Is more then 3 months since then and I have no answer from them. Trying to phone them didn’t help too much ..they said are still waiting an answer from head office.
    Any of you have any adwise what else I can do ? Is this a normal waiting time ? In FSCO forms I read that in 30 days I should get an answer but seems to be not the case here.
    Thanks in advance for any piece of information !

  54. Wendy on January 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Hi, I have moved to the UK in 2009 and want to cash out my LIRA of about $34000 held in Canada. Can I apply for the reduced rate of withholding tax 15% instead of 25%? Thanks!

    • Boomer on February 5, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Hi Wendy. As far as I can determine, the 15% tax is only for “periodic pension payments” such as regular payments from a LRIF.

      A full withdrawal is subject to 25% tax.

  55. Garnet on January 5, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Hello, love the information in this site. I have a LIRA in ontario from the John Deere closure in 2009. At the time, the money was placed into a Lira with an investment company in ontario. I have been living in saskatchewan for over 5 years, and have not been receiving statements from the investment. I contacted the office, and they claim there is no address or email on file. I gave it to them AGAIN, but still receive nothing. I bank with bmo, and would like to move that money to a lira with bmo so I can watch it better. Is this allowed? What approach do I take? Thanks in advance….

    • Boomer on February 5, 2015 at 11:07 am

      @Garnet: I hate to hear about people having these kind of problems.

      Take your original pension documents and the last statement you received from the investment company (you just need the address and account no.) to your BMO branch. Open an account with them and they will initiate the transfer. Depending on the investments held within it will take 2 to 8 weeks to transfer.

  56. lucy on February 4, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I have a total of 44,800 in 3 different rrsp (gic’s) with cibc. I recently withdrew some for hardship which a lot of tax was withdrawn, I’m wondering if there are any other options to withdraw more.

    • Boomer on February 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

      @lucy: You can withdraw as much as you like but withholding tax will always be taken by the bank. You claim it as taxes paid on your income tax return for the same year. Depending on your income you may get some or all of it paid back to you.

  57. Rachel on February 9, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Question for anyone out there. I left the Federal Government and was required to lock in a big amount of my pension. It was considered income for the year, yet RBC says they don’t provide T4s as it’s not income to them as I didn’t receive the money when i had to sign the papers to invest it in the first place. It didn’t “belong” to them until I signed it over Well according to H&R Block, they’ve been having this problem lately with early retirements and it is a fight to get the banks to provide a T4 fir the locked in amount. It has been done however with TD and CIBC, but I want to know what kind of fight I will have from RBC. Have any of you had to do this?

    • Mariam Abdi on May 31, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Rachel, I just stumbled upon your comment as I was looking for answers to my situation- which is identical to the one you have/had (and it’s with the same bank too)!!
      Did you find a solution?? can you please let me know what was done in your case? Many thanks!!

  58. Lisa on February 20, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I have a question. My husband released from the military, secretively, back in 2008, before we were divorced. With his release he was given a cheque, and funds to put into a locked in RRSP. When we went before the court regarding finances, he denied to the court that he had this locked in RRSP. He is significantly in arrears with his child support, to the tune of over $60,000 so the courts applied the share of my pension he was entitled to, to his arrears. Thjey then gave me a court order to have his child support arrears removed from his locked in RRSP. He resides in Ontario and I reside in BC. The Locked in RRSP is held in Ontario. Now, the enforcement officer from ontario has advised me that I have to wait til he is 55 before we can access the funds, but by that time he won’t even have enough funds in there to cover the arrears. Is there a way that will benefit both him and I? Him where his arrears debt will be nil so the credit reporting, garnishment and lein on his locked in RRSP are ceased, and me where I am finally able to collect the half of his pension I am entitled to along with the arrears of child support he owes? Is there a clause somewhere that assists me with that??

  59. Lisa on February 20, 2015 at 11:25 am

    To add to that, I am still in the military and the date that my ex husband turns 55 is in September 2031, yes, 2031! The judge has added that there will be 3% per annum added to the arrears until they are paid off as well, so his 60,000 arrears will turn into $99,303 by the time we can even collect, which is almost $10,000 over the total amount in his locked in RRSP.

    • Boomer on February 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      @Lisa: Provincial rules for unlocking differ in what they allow. I think what you need here is legal advice. Good luck.

  60. Lisa on February 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Would provincial rules apply with a federal government pension that was moved into a locked in RRSP though?

    • Boomer on February 20, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      @Lisa, some provinces allow unlocking for spousal or child maintenance enforcement orders, but, unfortunately, federally regulated pensions do not allow this option.

  61. peter on February 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I work for a railroad and I am looking at quiting my job. I am in a DC plan. If I put the money into a LIRA at what age can I transfer it into a LIF? I am currently going to be 51 and I live in Alberta

    • Boomer on February 27, 2015 at 10:15 am

      @peter: In Alberta you can transfer a LIRA to a LIF at age 50.

  62. Sharon on February 27, 2015 at 8:49 am

    In Jan. 2015 , I transfered my pension from a SK Health company and locked it into a RRSP, with RBC in Alberta. I’m moving back to SK . Can I take any amount out for a downpayment on a house or do I have to wait until I’m 55.

  63. Boomer on February 27, 2015 at 10:26 am

    @Sharon: You can unlock a small LIRA (less than 50% or YMPE – $26,800 for 2015) but otherwise you have to wait until you are 55.

  64. Jennifer on March 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I recently went through a divorce and part of the settlement was that my ex-husband had to sign his RRSP and LIRA account over into my name.

    My question is… can I claim these amounts as a contribution amount on my tax return? Technically the money was never mine and now it is (we didn’t have joint accounts they were solely in his name) . I can’t seem to get a straight answer out of any accountant I speak to.

    Any advice would be appreciated. (I live in BC)

    • Boomer on March 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      @Jennifer: This is considered a transfer, even though it’s from one name to another, so you can’t claim the amounts as contributions for income tax purposes.

  65. Raj on March 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Hi in 2014, I switched jobs. I had a Registered Pension Plan with my previous employer through Sunlife. In past years when I was with my old employer I noticed that my contribution would show on lines 20 & 52 of my T4. However, for 2014 when I got my T4 from my old employer lines 20 & 52 were blank.

    I did transfer my funds to a LIRA in November of last year. Is this why? Am I able to report my contributions for 2014 any where on my Tax Return to receive a deduction on my taxes.

    I live in Ontario. Your advice is much appreciated. Thank you.

  66. Jodi on March 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm


    I am wondering what the regulations in Saskatchewan are to claim financial hardship to withdraw a LIF worth $25,000.00.
    Also, what procedures would one take to start this process?

    Your response in greatly appreciated.

  67. Lex on March 8, 2015 at 10:50 am

    So if i live in a province/territory where the unlocking is age 55 and i move to Alberta where the unlocking can occur at age 50 would i be able to access my locked in RRSP at age 50 in Alberta even though the lock-in occurred in a different province/territory?
    Thanks for your time,

    • Boomer on March 8, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      @Lex: No. Your funds remain under the original pension legislation.

  68. Candace on March 9, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I have a locked in retirement fund from being a former employee with the government of Canada. I’ve been looking at the federal rules for unlocking the money due to financial hardship but when I look there is a link for former government of Canada employees being directed to call treasury board (
    So my question is: are there multiple federal laws outlining federal locked funds? Are former government of Canada employees under a different set of rules?
    Please help!

    • Boomer on March 9, 2015 at 9:10 am

      @Candace: Federal rules apply to all federally regulated pensions. It looks like they just changed their website to the one you were directed to.

  69. Randy on March 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    I left my work and converted my pension into a self directed LIRA with options trading attached at age 40. I am on track to have well over 1 million at 55. At 55 can I transfer to a LIF and then unlock 50% directly to my RRSP within 60 days? My RRSP contribution is maxed out each year. Will I have to pay taxes at 55 on 500,000? What is the max yearly payout on the remaining 500,000 in the LIF? Can I continue to self direct the LIF investments?


    • Boomer on March 20, 2015 at 11:15 am

      @ Randy: Yes, at age 55 or older when you convert to a LIF you are eligible for a one-time unlocking of 50% to your RRSP. You don’t require contribution room if it is your own RRSP and it’s not taxed until you start making withdrawals. You can continue to self-direct your account.
      Note: If you are married, before unlocking pension benefit funds you are required to provide written agreement from your spouse or common-law partner.

      Here’s a good link for minimum and maximum withdrawals:

      (I am not affiliated with this company)

      • AFD on September 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm

        On the point of the transfer to the RRSP from the LIF. What are the pros and cons using your one time act of moving 50% from the LIF to the RRSP. Is this a good strategy? What are the implications? I can seem to find much information on this point. I’m assuming the transfer can be “in-kind” and I don’t have to sell the assets.

        • Denis on September 22, 2017 at 8:05 am


          Yes in kind. The advantage is that a RRSP is more flexible.

          I think that you can transfer 50% to RRSP without converting LIRA to LIF but may be wrong. Otherwise disadvantage is that you need to start taking income from LIF.

          I am looking at doing this if I don’t have to convert to a LIF as I don’t need the money at this time.

          • boomer on September 22, 2017 at 10:49 am

            Denis, you are correct that putting 50% into an RRSP makes it more flexible because there is a maximum withdrawal limit. However, you do have to convert to a LIF in order to do this.

  70. Michelle on March 30, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Thank you for posting all of these questions and answers. Very informative as I have been trying to get information but the government websites are too generic and I don’t trust bank employees to know anything.

    I have a federally regulated locked in rrsp from a former employer. I have been out of work for almost a year and must consider taking some courses to increase my chances of gaining employment. My income for the year will be almost nothing.

    Any idea if this would constitute low income for financial hardship? Finding what they consider financial hardship is almost impossible.

    Thank you!

    • Boomer on March 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      @Michelle: For federally regulated pension plans a withdrawal can be made once a year for financial hardship (low income).

      The allowed withdrawal amount is on a sliding scale based on your expected net income for the year up to a maximum income of 75% of the YMPE ($40,200). The maximum amount of withdrawal is 50% of YMPE or $26,800 if you have 0 income.

      To download the application form go to

  71. Linda on April 3, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Hello, what is the max amount one can draw due to hardship in Sask?
    My research suggested $25,000.00 but my advisor at Sunlife thinks it can only be $10,000.00.
    Thank you in advance

    • Boomer on April 4, 2015 at 9:37 am

      @Linda: According to

      “Saskatchewan does not permit unlocking of pension money to alleviate financial hardship.”

      Only 3 provisions area allowed – shortened life expectancy, small amount or non-residency.

  72. Lauraine on April 7, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I am a beneficiary of a locked RPP. Can I have the money, or do I have to wait until I’m 65yr. (In alberta) I’m 35, single mom.

    • Boomer on May 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Hi Lauraine: The amount of the fund must be transferred to a LIRA for the surviving spouse. In Alberta it can then be converted to a LIF or life annuity at age 50.

  73. archie on April 28, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I’m trying to access my locked in account in my bank account. I have like $4400.00, the thing is I took some portion of it already back in March 2015 and I like to take the remainder out, due to I’m relocated and I’m unemployed as of today. Is there a way I can access that money?

    • Boomer on May 7, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      Hi archie: Withdrawals for financial hardship can only be done one per year. If the maximum permitted amount wasn’t withdrawn then, another application can be made within 30 days of the first withdrawal.

      You MAY be able to unlock the remainder under the “small balance” rules, but you have to be age 55 or older.

  74. sweet on May 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I am from Toronto. My late husband had a RSP-lock in’s funds but no beneficiary designated. Would I automatically become the beneficiary, or the Estate would be the beneficiary? He had a lot of debts like outstanding credit cards payments. Do I need to cash the lock in RSP to pay the debts or legal fees to declare him bankruptcy? How would it affect the income tax on myself or the estate?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Boomer on May 7, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      @sweet: Locked in funds automatically pass to the surviving spouse.

      However, the money must be transferred to another LIRA, LIF or life annuity.
      Applications to withdraw the funds are the same as for the annuitant:
      -small balance
      -financial hardship
      -one time unlocking of 50% on transfer to LIF

  75. Alan on May 21, 2015 at 3:10 am

    Hi Marie / Boomer,

    Thanks for the helpful article and comments section.

    If I was terminated by my employer (with a defined benefit pension plan) this year and elected to received a lump sum amount that I then transferred to RBC as a locked-in RRSP, can this amount be claimed on my 2015 income tax return?

    Thank you.

    • Boomer on May 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Hi Alan: Sorry about your termination.

      Your lump sum pension benefit was originally made with pre-tax money, so it can’t be claimed as an RRSP contribution on your tax return.

      • Alan on May 21, 2015 at 8:38 pm

        Hi Marie / Boomer,

        Thanks for your prompt response and concern. I actually found new employment about a month ago.

        Really appreciate your time and help.

        • Boomer on May 22, 2015 at 11:19 am

          Thank you Alan, and good luck to you.

  76. Cindy on May 31, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I have a locked in RRSP from a Crown Corporation in BC, does it make any difference if they had early retirement benefits starting at 50?

    Can I use any of he funds as a down payment to purchase a home?

    Is it on your 55th birthday or the year in which you turn 55?

    At 55 can I withdraw 50 or 100%?

    Thanks for the help

    • Boomer on July 31, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      @Cindy: You need to check with the pension administrator to see if you can access the funds at 50, usually you can if employees can take their pension early.

      Locked in funds can’t be used for the Home Buyers Plan.

      You access in the year you turn 55 and there is a minimum and maximum amount you can take out.

  77. JP on June 5, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I will be moving out of Canada. I understand that I am allow to withdraw fund from my locked in RRSP after two years with 25% withholding tax. What happens if I decide to move back to Canada at later date, say 10 years later. Do I have any tax obligation at that point?

    Thank you!

    • Boomer on July 31, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      @JP: No, you will be all paid up.

  78. laudi on July 31, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Good Morning, I live in British Columbia and I would like to know what my options are for unlocking or accessing the money in my RRSP.

    I quit my job and my pension was cashed out and put in an locked in RRSP with London life. I currently have a new job and pay into a pension plan. Is there any way I can access this money. I am only 46 and not ill. Can I transfer it ? What are my options. Can I sell the RRSP?

    Thank you,

    • Boomer on July 31, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      @laudi: Unfortunately, your locked in RRSP can’t be accessed until you are 55 or 60 depending on provincial pension legislation.

      You can transfer it from London Life to another financial institution, but it remains locked in.

  79. BC RESIDENT on August 7, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    I have a Locked in RRSP worked in BC
    I turn 55 next year can I take it out 50 %
    tranfer intoa RRSP and take out- need help!!!

    • boomer on September 8, 2015 at 10:52 am

      @BC RESIDENT: In some instances this is allowed. You need to contact your pension representative.

  80. douglas on September 8, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Hello there :
    I live in Nova Scotia i have a locked in grsp with a company in Saskatchewan i want to use the funds for first time home owner. I am wondering if it is possible for me to access these funds for my down payment.

    • boomer on September 8, 2015 at 10:54 am

      @douglas: Locked-in funds are supposed to provide you with a pension, so, no you can’t access the money for the Home Buyers Plan.

  81. Pauline on September 18, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    My husband has a locked in mutual fund RSP of 60,000.00. He is 51, and we have alot of credit card and line of credit debt. We are considering bankruptcy to get out of the mess we are in, we both work but are only able to make minimum payments etc. We live in Nova Scotia and can see this money there but are unable to access it. The RSP money came from a former employer.

    Do you have any advise on what we could do?


    • boomer on September 19, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      @Pauline: I’m sorry.

      Unfortunately, your situation does not qualify your husband for any unlocking provisions by the Nova Scotia Pension Benefits Act.

  82. Hardship Looms on September 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Due to health reasons I was unable to work and did not have anyone to help with financial responsibilities. Due to this I now carry an arrears in child support (Ontario resident) … I am healthy now and back to work part time, and would very much like to pay it off in full (I am now making the full, agreed upon monthly payments) before I lose my driver’s license, which I need for work. If I lose my license, I lose my job and essentially my residence. My main concern is paying this arrears off in full. I carry a balance more than double the amount owed, does this qualify and what form do I need to proceed with this? I don’t like having this over my head and I must take responsibility for this, it is my fault for allowing this to happen.

    • Boomer on September 24, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      @Hardship Looms: Withdrawals from a LIRA to pay child support arrears is usually allowed. Ontario residents can go to their financial institution to complete the necessary forms.

  83. Debbie on October 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

    Hi, very informative reading. I have a quick question that
    I just can’t seem to find the answer to. My husband has a pension from a co. that went bankrupt. Its 32,000. He has been offered 3 options to transfer the funds to – LIRA, LIF, or annuity. I’m surprised that he’s able to get an LIF because he’s 50, not 55.
    Now, If he transfers to an LIF, can he, within 60 days withdrawal the 50%? We’re in Ontario. I’d hate to transfer to an LIF and find out that he can’t get the 50%
    because I know it’s a one time deal. Thanks so much.

    • boomer on January 9, 2016 at 11:06 am

      @Debbie: Your husband can transfer his funds to a LIF if he is at an age where he would have been eligible for a pension from the originating pension plan. Check those pension documents to see if he could have received even a reduced pension at age 50.

  84. Lori on November 14, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I have a db from yellowpages group in ontRio. I worked in bc but it was set up in Ontario. My paperwork says it is registered in bc. Shouldn’t it be registered in Toronto? I want to tAke advantGe or transferring to lif and then being able to access a portion early. My understanding is. This can be don In Ontario but not bc? Is that correct? Is there anyway I can get it changed to fall under Ontario legislation?

    • boomer on November 15, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      @Lori: Your paperwork should clearly state which provincial legislation the pension plan was formed under. You can’t change it. You can also get clarification from your pension administrator. How to contact them should also be on your documents.

  85. Lori on November 15, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    So of in bc. No way to access these funds other than financial hardship? I make 50000 per year so I expect I don’t qualify. Is that correct?

    • boomer on November 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      @Lori: Unfortunately, that is true. Also, BC doesn’t have a provision for withdrawing due to financial hardship.

    • Nark on April 30, 2016 at 7:24 am

      Hi. For EI it says ” are there any monies received that we need to know about” or something to that effect. If I take out lira under financial hardship then do I have to answer yes to that question? And will they deduct my EI payment?

      • boomer on April 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm

        @Nark. I would say you have to answer “yes” to the question and explain. Since it is your own money I don’t think they should deduct from your EI payment but I can’t say for sure. Give EI a call.

  86. gale on January 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    I live in BC, I have a locked in lira from nova scotia that has a balance as of today of 12,000, when it was first locked in it was 8,000 in 2008. Unemployed for last 2months, applied to unlock for 0-low income. not eligible for EI, not married, sent all docs but pension people still ask for EI statement of benefits even though I sent them proof of denial of benefits, what is this? monthly credit cards and student loans piling up, this is only small amount, shouldn’t it be unlocked anyway?

    • boomer on January 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

      @gale: You should be able to withdraw some of your LIRA if your expected income for the entire year is less that $35,000.

      Complete Form 12 and submit with the required supporting documents: 12-HardshipUnlockinginstructions.pdf

      • gale on January 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        I have submitted all required forms for unlocking my lira due to hardship. still received 2 letters requesting EI statement of benefits, even though I told them in NS that I am not receiving EI, I applied and was denied and asked for reconsideration, which takes about 3-4wks to hear back from. I called NS pensions, explained this to them, was told they could make a decision if I sent them a ROE with a note to assume I was going to receive max. EI then they could “maybe” unlock my Lira, only thing is because I requested a certain amount, I may have been approved for the max amt. to unlock, but whatever, I don’t need the max anyway. So sent both ROE and letter, still waiting for response. this should not take this long. The Lira isn’t making any return anyway with TD, what happens to my LIRA if I close the account?

        • gale on January 19, 2016 at 5:37 pm

          Well, after 2 months of sending in docs and making lots of calls, the superintendent of pensions NS finally gave me the approval to unlock due to financial hardship! now to get back on track. Just have to wait for the approval letter to take to my financial institution. This has been an ordeal for sure! , but I hope others out there are successful in this as well. I have taken away a lot of info. from this site which has also helped me greatly! Thanks Boomer andEcho!!

  87. Bob Maplethorpe on January 9, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Boomer,
    I’m confident you already answered this for us above but just confirm. Money pulled out of a pension plan (MPP), here in BC and put into a LiRA self directed RSP investment account, is NOT available to use as rrsp contribution.

    • boomer on January 10, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Yes, Bob. Pension plan money put into a LIRA is considered a transfer, not a new contribution.

  88. David Dunn on January 22, 2016 at 1:33 am

    I transfered my UK pension funds to a locked in RRSP in Ontario when I moved there from the UK in 2003. I moved back to the UK permanently last year. Can I cash in the locked in RRSP after 2 years without any UK income tax liability since the Canadian government takes 25% withholding tax?



  89. Tara on February 10, 2016 at 12:38 am

    I just wanted to share my story. I have a locked in RRSP under BC legislation and successfully withdrew money. It was much easier than I expected. I declared low income as I lost my job at the end of they year and decided to return to school. The bank filled out the forms for me, asked a few questions about qualifying for Employment Insurance, which I do not and told me that the forms get sent to the ‘government’ and it would take 7 to 10 business days. The funds were deposited into my account within 48 hours. I don’t think the government approves them I think the financial institutions just follow the guidelines they have been given. A few things to keep in mind though….Had I tried to apply in December I would not have qualified as low income as my income for the year had exceeded the max allowable. The rules are pretty straight forward and from what the financial advisor told me they do not make any exceptions.

    • boomer on February 10, 2016 at 10:22 am

      @Tara. Thank you for sharing your story. BC just recently enacted legislation to allow withdrawals for financial hardship. I’m happy to hear that they made the process easy for those who qualify.

  90. Rachel on February 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    How long does it take to receive the funds die to financial hardship, assuming that the application is accepted?

  91. Joe on March 21, 2016 at 11:26 am


    I took out $ 10,000 for financial hardship in a locked in RRSP. The company took out $2,000 immediately. This was my only income for the year. I was wondering if i get the $2000 back when i file my tax return?

    Thanks for the info

  92. boomer on March 21, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Joe. You claim the $10,000 as taxable income. The withholding amount of $2,000 will go on line 437 – income tax paid. If this was your only income for the year you will be refunded the entire amount.

  93. Fred on March 31, 2016 at 9:01 am


    I worked for TD Bank and when I left them, my pension funds (Federally legislated) were put into a locked in SDRSP. I then worked for ATB Financial, which is a crown corporation of the Alberta Government. I recently left them. I believe my pension with ATB Financial is Provincially legislated. Am I able to “combine” my ATB Pension Funds (Provincially legislated) with my existing SDRSP (Federally legislated)? The amount is small and I don’t want any more accounts! Thanks

    • boomer on March 31, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      Hi Fred: Different pension legislation means different LIRAs because they have differing rules of when the funds can be accessed so, unfortunately, you’ll have 2 accounts.

  94. Glenn on April 13, 2016 at 9:05 am


    I am in Saskatchewan, 54 years old, and have 2 questions.
    I have 2 LIRA accounts. Federal is $78K and Sask is $21K.
    Can I transfer these to a family member?
    How much (if any) can I access for withdrawal when I turn 55?


    • boomer on April 14, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Hi Glenn. No, you can’t transfer them to a family member.

      To access the funds you need to convert them to a LRIF. You are able to transfer (within 60 days of the conversion) 50% of the federal LIRA to you regular RRSP and then withdraw whatever you want from there. The remaining LRIF would be subject to minimum and maximum withdrawals. At age 55 the minimum is 2.86% and the maximum is 4.592%.

      The Saskatchewan LIRA, however, could be converted to a PRIF which doesn’t have maximum withdrawals so you can take out however much you want.

  95. Janet Thibaudeau on April 13, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I live in BC. Previous employer head office in Ontario, where locked in RRSP registered. I turn 65 this year, have been unemployed for some time and am about to declare bankruptcy. Can the bank who has my RRSP, and to whom I owe money, take these funds, either before or after I declare bankruptcy? Love your website!

    • boomer on April 14, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Hi Janet. Unfortunately, if you unlock these funds they will lose the creditor protection that is provided to locked-in funds.

  96. jackie agecoutay on April 27, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I live in saskatoon and I am 54 years old 55in december. I would like to withdraw some of my locked in RRSPs to do some house renovations. My husband is terminally ill and would like to stop working to care for him but I pay the bills. Help need $$

    • boomer on April 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      @jackie agecoutay. Once you turn 55 you may be able to transfer your funds to a Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (PRRIF). There is a minimum withdrawal amount required each year but no maximum. Any money withdrawn is taxable income.

  97. Nathan Cutler on May 8, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I spent 9 years with a municipal police service in Alberta. When I left last year I moved my pension to a LIRA at Scotia Mcleod. I am now looking at buying a business in British Columbia. I am wondering if I can use my pension money to buy shares in a private corporation to help me fund the purchase? I believe you had said earlier that if I had the money in a self directed LIRA I could buy shares but not sure about a small business that I own.

    Thank You

    • boomer on May 9, 2016 at 9:01 am

      @Nathan Cutler: You are allowed to buy shares in a qualified small business corporation, however, according to the CRA not if you are a “connected shareholder” of the corporation. So, if you are wondering if your own shares in the business are eligible, the answer is no.

      • Nathan Russell Cutler on June 16, 2016 at 8:44 am

        What if my small business is a motel and has real property. Could I use my LIRA to mortgage a portion of the property? Does the mortgage need to be in first position and does it have to be insured with CMHC?

  98. David on June 16, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Hi. I’m nonresident living in the UK and have withdrawn my LIRA. 30% has been withheld. Is this 30% withheld forever, or can it be claimed back in any circumstances? If so, what might these be?

  99. Brad on June 26, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Thank you for the information here.

    I’m wondering if you could help me. I left a job in the late 90’s with a federally regulated pension plan that I moved into a locked in SDRSP. I’ve done very well with it, and now that I’m in my early 50’s looking forward to 55 and unlocking 50% which hopefully will allow me to work much less.

    Can you please tell me the steps I need to get this done…I know nothing about LIF’s and RIF’s. Is it realistic to expect a monthly payment of some sort once I am able to unlock and still work, albeit much less? If possible, can you explain how this affects income tax as well?

    Thank you very much for any help and advice regarding this.

  100. boomer on June 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Brad. You can receive the necessary forms for both unlocking 50% of your LIRA to a RRSP, and transferring the remaining funds into a LRIF, from your financial institution or investment advisor.
    You can then set up monthly payments from your LRIF (or annuity if preferred). The RRSP can be held until up to age 71 at which point it will have to be transferred into a RIF (or annuity) and be subject to minimum withdrawals.
    Any payments you receive will be taxed as income at your marginal tax rate – so it will depend on what your other earnings will be.

  101. Carolyn on August 4, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Hello. In 1999/2000 I lost my job along with several other hundred employees with a corporate downsizing/merger of BCTel/Telus Corporation. My pension was rolled/vested to a LIRA. My financial advisor says they have confirmed this is a federally regulated LIRA. From what I have read if I convert this to a LIF I should be allowed a one time 50% withdrawal from the LIF. However, the my financial advisor said says that in my case/circumstance with this pension I cannot. I do not understand why not when all my research shows that if a federally regulated LIRA I can, or is it because I reside in BC and worked in BC at the time of the pension.

    Hoping you can clear this up for me. Currently I have $ 135,000 in this LIRA and if transferred to a LIF right now my advisor is telling me today that I can only withdraw a minimum of $300/month and max of $500? Fare cry from the one time withdrawal of 50%.

    Looking forward to how you may interpret this.

    • boomer on August 27, 2016 at 10:12 am

      @Carolyn: Communications does fall under federal pension regulation. According to the Dept. of Finance: “Individuals 55 or older will be entitled to a one-time conversion of up to 50% of LIF holdings into an unlocked tax-deferred savings vehicle.” e.g. RRSP
      You need a “spousal consent” form signed to do this, if applicable.
      Forms are available with your financial institution holding the funds.

    • Denis on September 25, 2016 at 9:32 am

      I did a search and RBC has a guide on LIRAs which I will read later this week. I asked TD about my LIRA and they hadn’t a clue. I think we are on our own on this one. I think I will convert to a LIF and take the yearly payout as it was intended. As a lucky one that started to save for retirement with my first real job almost 40 years ago, don’t need the money.

  102. Shan on August 25, 2016 at 5:10 pm


    In 2012 I changed jobs and with my last employer I have RPP. I’m told these funds are locked-in and there is no way for me to take them out for down payment for a house as first time home buyer.

    My question is if I was to transfer these funds in to RRSP with TD is there way to cash them out? or what are my options (if any)

    • boomer on August 27, 2016 at 10:17 am

      @Shan: Pension funds can not be used for the Home Buyers Plan, nor can you transfer them to a regular RRSP unless you are converting your LIRA to a LIF at the minimum eligible age detailed in your pension legislation documents (eg age 55 for federal and Alberta, 60 for some other provinces).

  103. deirdre on September 11, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have been trying to do some research on this lately because my husband does have one. He left the Canadian military after 10 years of service, was able to withdraw a portion of his pension (that we used to start our own business) and the rest we had to transfer into a locked in RRSP.

    My question now is what to do going forward. He only has 10 years of contributions (minus was we already withdrew) so we clearly want to keep putting money aside for his retirement. Can (or should) we continue adding money to that same locked in RRSP and have it grow, or do we start investing in another form of savings avenue? Suggestions?

    My plan is to eventually sit down with some advisors but am trying to do as much research on my own as possible so that when that happens I am more informed and less likely to get pushed into investments that I am not comfortable with or that I do not understand. I am always scared of being scammed.

    Any advise is greatly appreciated.

  104. June on September 23, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Hi There , I have a small amount locked into a federal pension… like 1800.00 Im 55 this Nov 2016 and live in alberta … will i be able to cash it in !!!

    • boomer on September 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Hi June. You can withdraw the entire LIRA for this small amount. Your financial institution that holds the funds will have the paperwork for you to fill out. Don’t forget it will be taxable on your next income tax return.

  105. Byron on October 16, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I’ve got a fairly significant amount in a LIRA account with wealthsimple. I’m wondering if I can create a LIRA using a Participating Life Insurance policy?

    • boomer on October 16, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      @Byron. No, this is not allowed.

  106. Ron Coe on October 20, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I seem to have a problem with the wrong legislation on my LIRA fund. I worked for a company in Ontario and somehow the money from my severance pay was put into a LIRA fund but under Manitoba Legislation and not Ontario. I need some of this money and under Manitoba Legislation I am entitled to 50% and was trying to get these funds. When Manitoba Superintendent found out about this this block it. My bank is trying to get this corrected but it’s been over 20 years and no one at the company I worked for has any real information about this.
    Two things bother me about this – The money put into a LIRA fund was severance pay and not pension and the second being that I thought that if you worked for an Ontario based company the funds are only legislated in that province. My true pension with this company clearing states Ontario and not or ever been a problem.

    Can you help.

    • boomer on October 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      @Ron Coe: You need to go visit the manager at your financial institution with your severance documentation and demand that the funds be switched to the correct account (regular RRSP). See this link about how severance pay is handled:
      It sounds like the fault is with the bank and they should make all attempts to correct it. You may need to contact the ombudsman – the bank will have a pamphlet on how to do this.
      Unfortunately, this will take some time.
      Good luck to you.

  107. Irene Mcarthur on November 16, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Hello there my husband has a locked in RRSP account with RBC in Saskatchewan and we are facing many financial difficulties such as low income our son is in university in North Dakota and needs his tuition paid out other son is expecting a baby and now both of our health is going down as we are both diabetic and I have high blood pressure now – he has been trying to access his RRSP to cover his debt with RBC on top of all these urgent life changes happening – we now live in Manitoba (he’s 37) and he cannot figure out how to access his RRSP ? Is there any other avenues he can try?

  108. Irene McArthur on November 16, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Also. His RRSP was locked under the provincial legislature of Sask and is non taxable as he worked for a First Nations organization

  109. Rich on January 17, 2017 at 7:10 am

    I am 53 with ~$200k in an Ontario LIRA. I have been working outside Canada since 2007 and have received a CRA determination of non-residency. I am seeking to withdraw funds and minimize tax liability. I understand there is a 25% withholding on a lump sum withdrawal. Is waiting until age 55 and withdrawing smaller amounts over a multi-year period the best approach to minimizing tax? If so, what maximum annual withdrawal amounts (to minimize tax) and what forms are required? Thank you for your advice.

  110. Noor on February 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Hello there,

    Im in late 30s, reside in Ontario, a PR status. My husband just passed away last year from cancer in age of 50. The company want to transfer my husband pension funds with options either locked in vehicle or to buy annuity at insurance company. And I don’t know which one I have to approach. On the meantime I don’t work and still hard to cope with the lost. It is under federally legislated.

    Is there any a way to get some cash from it ?
    Do you have any suggestion should I go with or which financial institution or insurance company if there is any possibility i can get monthly income instead of.
    And i’m planning to go back to my back home.

    Could you please give me advise as I really confuse to decide and no where to go.
    Thank you so much and I appreciate any advise you can give. And It is so awesome website, i just didn’t find any similar case.
    Thanks again.

  111. Lee P. on February 22, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I live in Ontario, aged 63 and retired. I currently have a LIRA that has not been converted to LIF. I am not drawing any funds from this account. Can I make 1 time annual withdrawals from this account? if so are there maximum amounts that can be withdrawn. I plan to convert this at age 71 to a RIF/LIF and I assume I can transfer up to 50% of the value into a non Locked in plan.

    • boomer on May 23, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      @Lee P: You can’t make withdrawals from a LIRA. However, if you need the money, you could convert it to a LIF now instead of waiting until 71. For your age of 63, the minimum LIF withdrawal is 3.7% and the maximum is 5.1019%. You could transfer 50% of the funds to a RRSP for easier accessibility.

  112. Kate on May 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Hi, I live in BC and have a locked in federal RRSP. I have asked my financial institute how I can withdraw some of these funds. They told me they would have to contact my present employer to find out if this is allowed. Why is that? The locked in RRSP came from a company I left over 10 years ago.

    What is the maximum employment income considered for hardship? They did not mention and I could withdraw 50% of savings. I am over 55 years old. If I can withdraw 50% do you suggest putting it in TFSA? How do I know which to put it in a LIF,LIRA or LRIF? Thank you

    • boomer on May 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      @Kate: You don’t have to go back to your past employer. Your federal LIRA allows unlocking at age 55+ under these conditions: 1. If the balance is less than $27,650, or 2. you can do a one-time transfer of up to 50% to a regular RRSP (not TFSA) when you convert your LIRA to a LIF. You don’t have to wait until 71 to do this.
      For a financial hardship withdrawal, low income is determined on a sliding scale with the maximum withdrawal of $27,650 for $0 income. When you get to an income of $41,475 you can’t withdraw any amount.

      • Kate on May 24, 2017 at 8:25 pm

        Thank you. I have taken 50% of my locked in GIC out from Tangerine as I am older then 55 years old. They said the other 50% that is locked in must remained locked in. Is this true? Should I have told them to put the rest into a LIF? I really appreciate your help.

        • boomer on May 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

          Hi Kate. The other 50% should have been transferred to a LIF. Then starting next year you will have to start taking minimum withdrawals. The other 50% that you say you took out should have been put in a RRSP. If you took the cash you will have to pay tax on it – but maybe that’s what you wanted(?)

  113. Ray on October 25, 2017 at 2:44 am

    I’m 55 and have a locked in RRSP of 41,000 with CIBC. I’m in BC but federal rules apply – the RRSP was setup in 1992 when I left an employer with a federally regulated pension plan. I plan to unlock 50 % of the locked in RRSP and transfer it into a conventional RRSP.

    Yesterday I had a lengthy meeting with a CIBC representative. Though she was an experienced representative at this CIBC branch she wasn’t familiar with the rules that applied to my locked in RRSP. After about an hour of phone consultations and sometimes contradictory information from CIBC staff outside of the branch, the representative told me that the only option CIBC could offer was a transfer of the funds into a LIF.

    So, I’m 55 and entitled to unlock half of this Locked in RRSP, and CIBC tries to tell me my only option is a product that potentially locks in some of it until I would be 89.

    Something doesn’t smell right about this. How can it be that they can unlock it yet somehow not be able to put it into a conventional RRSP, even though OSFI and CRA rules clearly state it is allowed?

    This is not my first problem with CIBC, so I’m inclined to transfer everything to another institution and proceed as planned from there. Even so, as much as I love to hate CIBC I have some reservations about the idea of transferring to another institution – any thoughts and insights on my situation would be greatly appreciated.

  114. boomer on October 25, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Hi Ray. The only thing I can suggest is to be pro-active before your next meeting. Refer to which states the regulations regarding one time unlocking (maybe print it out).

    Also you have to have Form 2 completed which states you have spousal approval to do this, or you don’t have a spouse.

    You may have the same problem if you transferred to another FI, so I’d try this first.
    Good luck.

  115. Ray on October 26, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks Boomer,
    I have a hunch that a lot of this comes down to standardized wording in contracts – even though the regulations provide for unlocking the financial institutions aren’t obligated to provide for it in their contracts, it seems. I’m guessing that the amount of business they lose by not revising the contracts to provide for it is small, so they don’t bother.

    • boomer on October 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Ray. The pension regulations override any banking documents. On the website it clearly states that you can unlock 50% when you convert your LIRA to a LIF and the financial institution is who helps you complete the paperwork. The bank is not losing any business. You’re just switching from one type of account to another. If I were you I would pursue it until someone helps you and then, if necessary, take it to the ombudsman.

  116. Ray on October 26, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks Boomer,
    I’ve just learned that (apparently) the prospect of me transferring the plan to another institution has led to CIBC discovering that they can in fact unlock it per the rules. My wife had a similar experience with another bank. Funny how it seems lay people can often track down information online that is more accurate than what financial service reps can from their support people, and do it more quickly as well.

    • boomer on October 27, 2017 at 9:36 am

      I’m glad it’s worked out for you Ray.

  117. Clara C. Sierra on January 25, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    i reaaaly enjoy and benefit from your website Boomer. I have many doubts for my situation and keep reading in hope it may be similar as those of others. Grateful for your helpful website. Cheers Clara

    • Ray on January 26, 2018 at 2:36 pm

      Just thought I should post a followup for anyone in a similar situation
      with a federal locked in RRSP.

      In the end I was able to unlock all of it not not just the 50% I originally set out to. After the 50% unlocking I was able to immediately get the wheels rolling on unlocking the remainder as the “small balance” provision then applied.

      It dragged on for months. Each unlocking took a month for CIBC to process, during which time it sat in an locked in RLIF account that had to be set up to facilitate the transactions.

      The process dragged out so long that it went into the new year, and for whatever reason the locked in RLIF’s automatic annual minimum withdrawal payment occurred on January 1, to my dismay. I complained and the payment was reversed, and shortly thereafter the small balance unlocking was completed.

      Anyone that is forced into having their locked in RRSP temporarily transferred to a locked in RLIF should inquire about the timing and amount of any automatic withdrawals. Additionally they should be aware that the funds in the RLIF will stay locked in until the small balance threshold is met, if so they’ll want to get full details about the locked in RLIF

  118. Connor on February 25, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I recently released from the Canadian Forces and transferred to a Federally Locked In RRSP, I am now working as a Police Officer in Alberta, can I transfer these funds to my current employers pension. My current pension will accept the funds and I have already made contributions.

    • boomer on February 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

      I think you answered your own question Connor :). If your current employer will accept the funds I would transfer them if I were you to get a larger pension income when the time comes. The alternative is to leave the money in your LIRA and manage it yourself, so you would have to be pretty confident that you would be able to exceed the amount of income you could generate.

  119. Catherine on October 1, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Hi, I recently changed employers. My new employer doesn’t have a pension plan. None are federally regulated. I have about 30K sitting in an RPP with Manulife that I want to transfer and unlock partially if I can. I am 40. Would I be able to transfer the fund to an LIF then unlock the 50% as stated above or do I have to be 55 to do that? I live in Ontario.

    Thank you.

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