Ontario Pension Benefits Act Simplified the Unlocking Process for Financial Hardship

Effective January 1, 2014, people who need access to their locked-in retirement funds due to financial hardship can apply directly to the financial institution that holds their funds, rather than to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).  In addition, the asset test that determines how much can be unlocked from an account, has been replaced with a maximum withdrawal limit.

Quick Facts

  • Locked-in funds are amounts transferred from an Ontario registered pension plan into an Ontario locked-in account (Locked-In Retirement Accounts, Life Income Funds and Locked-In Retirement Income Funds) where they are held to provide income in retirement.
  • Forms required to make a request are found on the FSCO website (www.fsco.gov.on.ca)
  • Program criteria under which an applicant can apply has been consolidated into four categories: rental or mortgage arrears, medical expenses, payment of first and last month’s rent and low income.
  • An individual will not be able to make more than one application under each of the four financial hardship criteria per year.
  • If you are contacted by a former plan member for more information, direct them to the financial institution holding their funds.