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Locked-in retirement account (LIRA)

Earn interest on your funds from your former employer’s pension plan in a locked-in retirement account (LIRA).

If you're a Desjardins member, book an appointment on AccèsD to open your LIRA.

Not a member? Schedule a call to book an appointment.

What is a LIRA?

A locked-in retirement account (LIRA) is an individual plan you use to transfer over the accumulated funds in your former employer's pension plan. For example, you might want a LIRA if you leave your job. The funds you invest in a LIRA continue to grow tax-free until they're withdrawn.

A LIRA is a locked-in account, meaning you can't make contributions or withdraw your money until retirement. Depending on the field the former job is in, where it's located and applicable laws, the locked-in plan may be a locked-in retirement savings plan (LRSP) instead.

LIRA benefits

Tax-sheltered investments

Your money grows tax-free until retirement.

Investments for your goals

When you transfer your pension funds to a LIRA, you can choose the types of investments you want.

Money set aside for retirement

The money you invest in your LIRA is specifically for retirement income. You'll grow your money with peace of mind that your retirement goals are within reach.

LIRA rules

LIRA eligibility

  • You're no longer participating in your employer's pension plan
  • You received money from the pension plan of your former spouse's or common-law partner's employer after getting separated or divorced

Up to age 55, your employer generally gives you the option to transfer your pension's value to a LIRA if you leave your job. After age 55, you might be able to transfer part of your pension to a LIRA depending on the pension plan's regulations.

LIRA withdrawals

You can't withdraw money directly from a LIRA. You must first convert your LIRA to a life income fund (LIF) or an annuity.

You'll then have 2 options for withdrawals:

  • Through the LIF, you withdraw the money you need on a regular basis, between the minimum and maximum required amount.
  • With the life annuity, you pay a lump sum for it and then receive steady income for the rest of your life.

The terms and conditions for LIF withdrawals depend on the plan's jurisdiction. You can transfer the funds in a LIRA to a LIF at any age.

LIRA income, paid directly from a LIF or an annuity, is added to your taxable income.

Exceptions for unlocking a LIRA before retirement

You can't make withdrawals from your LIRA before retirement, but there are some exceptions. For example, you may be able to withdraw money if:

  • You have a critical illness that reduces your life expectancy
  • You're experiencing financial hardship
  • You've lived outside of Canada for over 2 years
  • You have a low balance in your LIRA

The rules for exceptions depend on the plan's jurisdiction. Speak to your Desjardins advisor for more information about LIRA withdrawals.

How to open the LIRA

1. Contact your advisor

Make an appointment with your advisor to open a LIRA. Your advisor will transfer over the pension funds using the information your former employer provides.

2. Choose your investments

According to your savings goals and investor profile, your advisor will help you choose the right investments for your LIRA. The only deposit or transfer is made when the LIRA is opened.

3. Plan your withdrawals

We'll also help you create a withdrawal plan for you to save on taxes and still achieve your goals.

LIRA investment options

Find out which investments you can hold in your LIRA.

Regular Savings Account

Save for short-term goals with no minimum deposit required.

Learn more about Regular Savings Accounts.

Guaranteed fixed-rate investments (term savings)

Enjoy a known return on your investment from day one. Both your capital and interest are guaranteed.

Learn more about Guaranteed fixed-rate investments (term savings).

Market-linked guaranteed investments

Harness the growth potential of stocks without risking your capital.

Learn more about Market-linked guaranteed investments.

Desjardins Funds

Invest in innovative and competitive fund portfolios tailored to your profile. 1

Learn more about Desjardins Funds.

Guaranteed Investment Funds Helios2 Contract 

Earn interest while protecting your estate and your savings. 2

Learn more about Guaranteed Investment Funds Helios2 Contract.

Interested in self-directed investing?

Whatever your level of investment knowledge, we offer everything you need to make informed decisions and invest on your own with confidence:

  • No-fee online transactions for stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
  • State-of-the-art trading platforms
  • Comprehensive training
  • Powerful analysis tools

Respon­sible invest­ment pays off

Commit to a sustainable and equitable economy by investing in businesses that value the environment, the community and diversity. With our socially responsible investments, you benefit from good potential returns while taking action for the future.


When should I withdraw money from my LIRA?

You must transfer all the funds in your LIRA to a LIF or convert them into an annuity no later than December 31 of the year you turn 71.

If you have other sources of retirement income you can access, such as another retirement savings plan or income from a rental property, consider using those funds first so you can keep generating income in your LIRA. If you need the money in your LIRA, you can convert all or some of it into retirement income.

Speak to your advisor about your retirement savings and withdrawal options.

Should I convert my LIRA to a LIF or an annuity?

When the time comes to convert your LIRA into retirement income, LIFs and annuities each have their own advantages and conditions.

With a LIF, you choose and manage your investments. Your withdrawals can vary from year to year, according to your needs and the minimum and maximum required amount.

You don't manage your investments with an annuity—you purchase one then receive income from it. Your investments are protected from market fluctuations and you get steady, guaranteed income. This makes it easier to budget.

You could also choose both options so you benefit from the flexibility of a LIF and the stability of an annuity. Your advisor can help you come up with a withdrawal strategy for your specific goals.

What happens to my LIRA in the event of death?

Upon your death, your LIRA balance goes to your spouse or common-law partner tax-free, under certain conditions. If you don't have a spouse or common-law partner, the balance goes to your beneficiaries or estate.

LRSP vs LIRA: What is the difference?

Depending on your employer's activities and where you were working, there are different locked-in plans you can open after leaving your job: 

  • A locked-in retirement account (LIRA) for jobs under Quebec or Ontario jurisdiction

  • A locked-in retirement savings plan (LRSP) for jobs under federal jurisdiction 

Speak to your advisor when you change jobs to learn more about transferring your pension funds to a locked-in plan.


Book an appointment to open your LIRA

On AccèsD

Book an appointment on AccèsD if you're a member, and meet with an advisor online, in person or over the phone.

Explore other useful savings plans for retirement


A life income fund (LIF) lets you transfer your money in a LIRA or LRSP for your retirement income.
Learn more about LIF


A registered retirement income fund (RRIF) converts some or all of your RRSP funds into retirement income.
Learn more about RRIF
Desjardins Funds are not guaranteed, their value fluctuates frequently, and their past performance is not indicative of their future returns. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Desjardins Funds are offered by registered dealers. DFS Guaranteed Investment Funds are established by Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company. Helios2 and DFS Guaranteed Investment Funds are registered trademarks of Desjardins Financial Security Life Assurance Company. The Desjardins brand is a trademark owned by the Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec, used under licence.