Desperate for money

Question: I will be 63 this year. I took an early Canada pension and I am making maximum withdrawals from my RRIF, in which I have about $22,000. When the electricity charges came in I was in immediate trouble. I started living on my credit cards; needless to say the balance has gone up quite a bit. I was unemployed for over a year, not much out there for a 63-year-old. I thought I could access some cash from my RRIFs to tide me over, but the Credit union told me I can’t, I could only collect the maximum interest. I am in so much trouble that some of my friends told me I can ask for permission from the government to take out more. I do live at home, the house is owned by my wife. Is there a way out for me? I wrote to Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) about two weeks ago, but I doubt if I will ever get an answer, they never answer their phones. Please let me know. – W.H.


This sounds like a pretty serious situation, and you are obviously very upset and concerned by it. My first piece of advice is not to let this affect your health. There are always solutions to financial problems, however tough they may be.

Let’s start with your retirent fund. You say you have a RRIF, but if that’s the case you can take out as much money as you want (taxable income, of course). You may in fact have some kind of locked-in account, such as a Life Income Fund (LIF), which does have restrictions. So that’s the first point to check.

If you have a locked-in plan., you may be able to access extra money from it, if certain conditions are met. This is nothing to do with HRDC, it’s a provincial government matter. So don’t waste your time with them.

If you live in Ontario, contact the Financial Services Commission of Ontario at  Click on Pensions and then on the section titled Access to Locked-In Accounts for details.

If you live elsewhere, contact the agency that administers pensions in your province. – G.P.