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Is it possible to access lump sums that are in a locked-in plan?

L-plans – Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRAs), Life Income Fund (LIFs), and Locked-In Retirement Fund (LRIFs) – are sum transfers from private sector Registered Pension Plans. These transfers occur usually when you change jobs. The money is locked in and should you wish to withdraw some, you will face special limits on your withdrawal – hence the “L” meaning locked in.

L-plans fall under provincial jurisdiction with the exception of certain industries such as banks and broadcasting where federal regulations apply. The legislation varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and does change from time to time. There is increasing pressure being placed on legislators and regulators to allow people to make lump sum withdrawals from LIFs and LRIFs. For example, if there is evidence of a serious medical problem that will reduce life expectancy, lump sum withdrawals are now widely allowed. The first step to take is to determine under which jurisdiction your pension plan is governed and to contract the appropriate regulatory body for the most current information. You should be leery of anyone who tells you that they have a way to unlock your L-plan tax-free. There have been numerous fraud cases so before you sign any papers, contact the pension regulator that governs the plan to see if the deal is legitimate. Remember that L-plans were designed to provide a stream of income in retirement. In most jurisdictions the earliest retirement age is 55, defined as 10 years before normal retirement age. Bookmark: The Pension Puzzle: Your Complete Guide to Government Benefits, RRSPs and Employer Plans
Bruce Cohen and Brian Fitzgerald Etobicoke, Ontario, John Wiley and Sons