Unlocking pension funds due to financial hardship
I recently came across someone who was financially impacted by the recent economic downturn. Although they were not over the age of 50, they were desperate to access their Locked in Retirement Account (LIRA).
With a little research I found this information right off the government of Alberta Website.
If you are facing a situation of financial hardship, you may apply to the Superintendent of Pensions, no more than twice in a twelve-month period, for a release of some or all of the funds in your LIRA or LIF.
There are a number of situations of financial hardship:
- You or your pension partner risk eviction from your principal residence due to overdue rent, or you have received notice that if payment is not made, the Sheriff will seize your property to reimburse your landlord for rent arrears.
- You or your pension partner risk foreclosure of a mortgage on your principal residence due to a debt secured against that residence.
- You or your pension partner require first and last month’s rent (or security deposit) on a principal residence.
- You, your pension partner or dependent face medical expenses that are not covered by any insurance, and a physician certifies that the treatment, medication or medical aid is reasonable to treat the illness or disability.
- You require alterations to your primary residence to adapt to your disability, or your pension partner’s or your dependent’s disability.
- Your estimated income for the next 12 months is less than two thirds of the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE). (For the year 2010, your expected income is less than $31,467.)
- Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has started legal proceedings against you to pay overdue personal income taxes.
- You are a registered debtor under the Maintenance Enforcement Act of Alberta and child maintenance payments are in arrears.
- You find yourself in a situation of financial difficulty that does not fall under the above categories, but that the Superintendent considers would reasonably qualify as financial hardship.
You do not have to provide information about your other assets or prove you have no other assets to qualify for a financial hardship withdrawal,
however, certain documents, specific to each circumstance outlined on the previous page, must be included with the application form.
- A copy of the eviction notice / distress for rent document. If you live in Alberta, written confirmation from the Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Fund, denying your request for funding through that program.
- A copy of the foreclosure notice.
- A copy of the lease/tenancy agreement, including the monthly rental cost (and/or the security deposit) of the rental unit, and a letter from the Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Fund, confirming that your request for funding through that program was denied.
- A copy of the invoice or estimate for medical treatment or medication, and a physician’s written opinion that the treatment is reasonable for the patient.
- A copy of the cost estimate to alter the primary residence; a copy of a physician’s opinion that the you, your pension partner or dependant has a disability; and a written confirmation that the alterations are not covered by public health care, private insurance or other Government programs.
- Completion of the Statement of Expected Income section of the application.
- A copy of the Writ of Seizure or Requirement to Pay (RTP), issued by Canada Revenue Agency with respect to your personal income tax arrears.
- A copy of the Maintenance Enforcement Order or statement of arrears from the Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program.
- Your written explanation detailing the specific hardship and the costs that you face, including copies of invoices, statements, or other documents as proof of the financial hardship.
Along with your completed application, you must also include a copy of the most recent statement of your locked-in account. There is no charge to make an application. If your application is successful, you will receive written consent from the Superintendent of Pensions to a release of funds from your LIRA or LIF due to financial hardship. This consent must be presented to your financial institution holding your locked-in funds in order to have the monies released.