In order to ensure that the Trustees apply consistent and equitable rulings in deciding upon any contentious claims lodged by the “spouse” of a deceased member, the following guidelines shall be used by the Trustees in determining whether the “spouse” claiming the benefit is entitled to such benefit.
- Did the member elect to participate in the optional spouse’s benefit?
- Was the “spouse” nominated by the deceased member in writing?
- Is there evidence of a relationship between the deceased member and the “spouse” where such relationship was of a long term nature and built upon mutual dependancy and trust? Examples would include joint bank accounts, joint ownership of property, and long-term cohabitation etc.
- Is there any other evidence of a relationship such as a nomination of the “spouse” as a beneficiary in terms of the deceased member’s last will and testament?
- Was the “spouse” recorded as a beneficiary in terms of the deceased member’s medical plan?Note: In cases where the medical plan makes no provision for a member and spouse of the same gender, such absence of recognition as a “spouse” shall not prejudice, reduce or limit the rights of the “spouse” under this practice note.
- Had the deceased member and the “spouse” drawn up any other legal document which would support the claim to spouse’s benefits?
- Based on the balance of positive (or negative) responses to questions (b) to (f) is the “spouse” entitled to a benefit?