What are my Retirement Income Options?


Retirement Income Options are strategies that provide you with a retirement income paycheque from the funds saved during your working years.

  • Registered Retirement Income Funds The most common retirement income option is a retirement income fund (RRIF). It is like a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) in reverse. It has the same tax-deferred growth, flexibility and choices you had in your RRSP, with the added benefit of being able to withdraw a retirement income and have the flexibility to determine the amount of income you withdraw each year (where a minimum annual amount is determined by a federal government schedule).

When you need to begin receiving income, or at the latest by December 31st of the year you turn 71, you must convert your RRSP to a RRIF. A RRIF is designed to provide you with income while keeping the assets retained in your RIFF tax-deferred.

  • What are the types of Locked-in Retirement Savings Plans (LRSPs)? Locked-in RSPs originate from Registered Pension Plans (RPPs) which are plans where funds are set aside by an employer, and/or employee, to provide a pension when the employee retires.

If you are a member of a fully vested Registered Pension Plan (RPP), once employment is terminated, the proceeds of your RPP will be considered ‘locked-in’ and must be transferred into certain ‘Locked-in Plans’ which include the following Locked-in RSPs and Locked-in Retirement Income Options:

  • LIRAs and LRSPs Locked-in Retirement Accounts (LIRAs) and Locked-in RSPs (LRSPs) are registered retirement savings plans which are established by the transfer of locked-in pension fund assets from a Registered Pension Plan (RPP) or another locked-in retirement savings or income plan (such as a LIRA, LRSP, Life Income Fund (LIF), Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (PRIF) or Locked-in Retirement Income Fund (LRIF).

Tax on the interest you earn in these plans is deferred until you withdraw the funds, and are only accessible prior to retirement age under certain conditions. Upon reaching retirement age (most are at 55), you can transfer the plan to one or more eligible Retirement Income Options available for a regular RSP.

LIRAs and LRSPs must be converted to a Retirement Income Option such as an Life Income Fund (LIF), Locked-in Retirement Income Fund (LRIF), or a Prescribed Retirement Income Fund (PRIF) before December 31st of the year you turn 71.

  • Life Income Funds (LIFs) Life income funds are purchased with a Locked-in RRSP (LRSP). You are required to roll over your LRSP assets into an annuity (Life Annuity in some provinces) or a Life Income Fund (LIF) by the end of the year you turn 71. You will have the ability to withdraw an income and you maintain the flexibility and choices you need within prescribed limits similar to a registered retirement income fund (RRIF). However, the minimum and maximum withdrawal schedule for a LIF is calculated differently and changes each year.
  •  Locked-in Retirement Income Funds (LRIFs) Locked-in Retirement Income Funds are purchased with a Registered Pension Plan (RPP) or a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA).

A LRIF is different from a Life Income Fund (LIF). The maximum payments are based on the investment returns, not your age or current interest rates. And there is no requirement to purchase an annuity at age 80. LRIFs are only available in certain provinces.