What senior benefits do you get in Canada?
Though you may still feel young at heart, you’re officially a senior to the Canadian government once you hit 65 years of age. But don’t worry – there are three major benefits and perks that come with assuming the “senior” mantle. Here’s a look at the benefits seniors 65 and older are entitled to, a basic overview of applying for those benefits, and helpful links along the way.
Let’s start with Old Age Security (OAS). It’s a monthly benefit paid out to seniors 65 and older who are either Canadian citizens or legal residents and have lived in Canada for at least 10 years since the age of 18. Your employment history isn’t required in order to receive OAS and you don’t need to make ongoing contributions.
The amount of OAS you receive each month is determined by how long you’ve lived in Canada after turning 18. OAS benefits are also adjusted quarterly and if there are increases in the overall cost of living.
The Old Age Security application process takes place one of two ways:
- You may get a letter from the government the month after your 64th birthday informing you that you’ve been automatically enrolled in OAS. In this case, you wouldn’t need to apply on your own.
- Alternatively, you may get a letter prompting you to apply for your OAS pension. You can do this in person at a Service Canada location or online by creating a My Service Canada account.
Next, let’s look at the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). It’s part of OAS and functions as a monthly, non-taxable “top-up” program for seniors with lower incomes. In order to get GIS, you need to already be receiving OAS, live in Canada and have an income lower than the government’s threshold.
Just like OAS, you may be automatically enrolled to receive GIS, or fill out a Guaranteed Income Supplement application form at your local Service Canada location or online.
A closer look at your Canada Pension Plan benefits
Another major benefit that kicks in is the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). But unlike Old Age Security or Guaranteed Income Supplement, CPP is a program that you contribute to throughout your working years.
You can start claiming reduced CPP benefits from the time you turn 60, or wait until your 65th birthday for the full CPP pension. Seniors might also decide to delay when they start receiving their CPP pension by up to five years so they receive a higher monthly benefit.
To qualify for CPP you need:
- To be at least 60 years of age
- Have made at least one valid contribution to the CPP during your working years
Currently, the absolute maximum monthly amount of CPP you could receive at age 65 is $1,154.58. Though, the average across the board is about $679.16 per month.
Keep in mind – the amount you receive depends on how much you and your employer contributed, the number of years you contributed and at what age you decided to start collecting CPP benefits.
All in all, there are plenty of federal benefits available to seniors 65 older that will help keep you financially stable and secure well into your later years. To learn more about what benefits you might be eligible for, check out the Canadian Government’s benefits finder page here.