Financial hardship unlocking

Publication type
Frequently asked questions
Locked-in retirement funds
Defined benefit plans
Defined contribution plans
  1. For withdrawals based on medical or disability-related expenditures, for whom do the expenditures have to be made?

    The Pension Benefits Standards Regulations, 1985 provide that the fund holder must be the one that expects to make the medical or disability-related expenditures; they do not specify for whom the expenditures have to be made and could include, for example, expenditures for a spouse or dependent.

  2. What is considered a medical or disability-related expenditure?

    The expenditures must be on a medical or disability-related treatment or adaptive technology that a physician certifies is necessary. Medical or disability related expenses for the purposes of determining the amount of funds that can be unlocked should be the same as those considered eligible medical expenses on your tax return. It is up to the physician to certify that the treatment is required and the form of that certification is left to the physician.

    More information regarding eligible medical expenses can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) website and questions should be directed to the CRA at 1-800-959-8281.

  3. What is the 30-day time limit for financial hardship withdrawal(s)? When do the 30 days begin?

    Financial hardship unlocking is available from a locked-in registered retirement savings plan, a life income fund, a restricted life income fund or a restricted locked-in savings plan. Generally, withdrawals for financial hardship reasons can be made once per calendar year.

    However, whether the person has one savings plan or multiple savings plans, it is possible to withdraw funds from these savings plans more than once in the same calendar year as long as this is done within 30 days of the first withdrawal (subject to the maximum dollar amount permitted by the Pension Benefits Standards Regulations, 1985 – refer to the chart in question 2).

    An application to unlock funds from one of these locked-in retirement savings plans requires the person to certify that he or she has not previously made any withdrawals from these savings plans in the current calendar year other than a withdrawal(s) made within the last 30 days of the certification (if any).

    There is no authority given to the Superintendent of Financial Institutions under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 or the Pension Benefits Standards Regulations, 1985 to provide extensions to this 30 day time limit.