After more than three decades working for the Income Security Programs department of the federal government, Fanny Bay resident Doug Runchey wants to put his expertise to good use.
Runchey, who moved to the Comox Valley 10 years ago, has started his own business — DR Pensions Consulting — offering advice to help people make the best decisions on their Canada pensions and to help them get the benefits to which they are entitled.
Runchey gained a reputation as a whiz with numbers in his previous job, creating some of the spreadsheet tools that the federal government telephone centre personnel used in their work when answering questions about the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS).
In his new business, he will provide detailed calculations to answer virtually any Canada pension-related question.
One of Runchey’s standard services is to help answer the question, “When should I start taking my CPP?”
Canadians can decide to start receiving their CPP any time between 60 and 70. The longer a person waits, the higher the monthly benefit.
Runchey can calculate the amount of their monthly benefit at any age from 60 to 70, the age at which they would ‘catch up’ if they delayed taking their benefit, and the cumulative lifetime amount for any starting age.
The Service Canada website provides some basic information to help people make this decision, but Runchey provides up-to-date and accurate information that takes into account information that Service Canada does not consider.
In the course of answering questions for people already taking their CPP, Runchey has encountered a number of cases where people were not getting the amount of CPP to which they were entitled. Generally this was when they had started taking their pension several years earlier based on earnings to that date and the government hadn’t taken later earnings into account.
With Runchey’s help, the people were able to get their pensions adjusted and received retroactive pay. He now offers an audit service to check that people who are receiving the CPP are getting the amount to which they are entitled.
Another standard service for Runchey is calculating what the result would be if a member of a separated or divorced couple applied to share CPP credits for the years that they were married or lived together. In cases where one partner stayed at home to raise children, the CPP credits for those years will still be shared.
However, the child-rearing years may later be ‘dropped out’ when that person’s CPP benefit is calculated, due to the CPP child-rearing provision. Thus those CPP credits are lost to the ‘couple’ and go back to the CPP.
The result of the credit split then may be that one partner’s pension increases but the other’s decreases by a larger amount. This can represent the loss of a significant amount of money, for example, up to $150 a month for the rest of the person’s lifetime.
Runchey has worked with individuals and family law lawyers to recommend alternatives for couples who would have suffered this kind of loss had a credit split been done.
When he is not doing calculations, Runchey answers CPP-related questions on forums such as the Canadian Money Forum, writes pension-related articles for the www.retirehappy.ca website, and provides his expertise to other financial writers and financial planners.
— DR Pensions Consulting