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Government Assistance for Seniors With Low Income in Canada 

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Many seniors with low income in Canada depend on government benefits for seniors in their old age to help pay for their basic expenses. 

Find out the benefits for seniors 65 and older in Canada, including who is eligible, how to apply for these government assistance programs, and how much you can get.

Key Takeaways

  • Seniors with low income in Canada receive various government benefits, including the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • For 2024, the maximum monthly CPP amount eligible seniors receive if they start their pension at age 65 is $1,364.60.
  • The monthly OAS pension benefits for low-income seniors aged 65 to 74 are $713.34 and $784.67 for individuals 75 and over. 

What is Considered Low Income for Seniors in Canada? 

Low income for seniors in Canada refers to earnings below the program’s maximum annual income threshold based on marital status.  

Low-income seniors are those who have a total annual income of $21,624 or less and couples with a combined annual income of $51,840 or less. 

These amounts are based on GIS eligibility and whether or not a spouse is eligible for benefits.

Benefits for Seniors 55 and Older in Canada 

The federal government provides assistance for older and low-income individuals. Below are the three top benefits for seniors 55 and older in Canada.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Individuals who contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) during their working years, whether employed or self-employed, are entitled to a retirement pension benefit. 

The CPP is a monthly taxable payment that replaces a part of your income when you retire. It complements Old Age Security (OAS). If you qualify for the CPP, you will receive the CPP retirement pension for the rest of your life.

For 2024, the maximum monthly amount you can receive if you start your pension at age 65 is $1,364.60. In October 2023, the average monthly amount paid for a new retirement pension (at age 65) was $758.32. 

Everyone who has contributed to the plan is entitled to receive this monthly benefit regardless of the years they have worked. The amount you receive depends on your earnings and contributions.

Sign in to your My Service Canada Account to get an estimate of your monthly CPP retirement pension payments.  

If you are qualified for this benefit, submit your application for it in advance of when you want your pension to start. This is to ensure you will receive your CPP retirement pension in the month of your chosen start date. 

The monthly amount you receive will be based on your average earnings throughout your entire life, your CPP contributions, and the age when you want to start receiving your CPP retirement pension. You can choose to start receiving it as early as age 60 or as late as age 70.

Unlike some of the other senior benefits on this list, CPP is not subject to clawbacks based on your income level. As such, it is available to low- and high-income retirees.

The following are the CPP payment dates in 2024:

  • January 29, 2024
  • February 27, 2024
  • March 26, 2024
  • April 26, 2024
  • May 29, 2024
  • June 26, 2024
  • July 29, 2024
  • August 28, 2024
  • September 25, 2024
  • October 29, 2024
  • November 27, 2024
  • December 20, 2024

Old Age Security (OAS)

The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly payment for individuals 65 or older. Regardless of whether you have never worked or are still working, you will receive the OAS pension. There is also no requirement to make contributions. 

There are four types of OAS benefits available:

  1. Basic OAS Pension
  2. Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
  3. Allowance
  4. Allowance for the Survivor

The table below shows the monthly OAS pension amount you may receive:

AgeMaximum monthly payment amountMaximum income recovery threshold to receive the OAS 
65 to 74$713.34Less than $142,609
75 and over$784.67Less than $148,179

You will receive your first OAS payment either on the month after you turn 65 or on the specific date that you have selected. 

You can choose to delay receiving your OAS pension payment for up to 60 months (or five years) after you turn 65. The longer you delay receiving your payment, the larger your pension payment will be every month. 

The payment schedule for the OAS pension is the same as the CPP.

Next Payment Adjustment – April to June 2024

Changes in the Consumer Price Index resulted in a 0.8% increase in OAS benefits for the January to March 2024 quarter.

The new benefit amounts for the next quarter will be available at the end of March 2023. 

Government officials conduct a quarterly review (January, April, July, and December) of the OAS benefit amounts to ensure they keep up with the inflation rate. 

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a non-taxable monthly benefit for low-income Old Age Security (OAS) pensioners. 

The tables below show the GIS amounts from January to March 2024:

If you are a single, widowed, or divorced pensioner

Your situationMaximum monthly payment amountAnnual income threshold
If you are a single, widowed, or divorced pensioner$1,065.47Less than $21,624

If you have a spouse or common-law partner

Your situationMaximum monthly payment amountMaximum annual income threshold
If your spouse/common-law partner receives the full OAS pension
$641.35

Less than $28,560
If your spouse/common-law partner receives the Allowance
$641.35

Less than $39,984
If your spouse/common-law partner does not receive an OAS pension
$1,065.47

Less than $51,840

The supplement is based on income and is available to Canadians who meet the eligibility requirements.

Qualified individuals already receiving the OAS may need to apply for GIS since the government may not have enough information to automatically enroll qualifying Canadians. 

You will typically receive your first payment after you turn 65. The amount you get will depend on your income, whether you are married or have a common-law partner. 

Applying for the GIS requires that you apply in writing using the Application for the Guaranteed Income Supplement form

You can opt to receive your payment by cheque or direct deposit to your bank account in Canada.

The payment dates for CPP, OAS, and GIS are the same. 

Other Benefits for Seniors

The CPP, OAS, and GIS are just three of the various federal government benefits that Canada provides for seniors. There are also provincial government benefits for seniors.

How to Qualify for Seniors Benefits

Qualifying for seniors’ benefits requires that you meet several requirements. Prepare the following as well before beginning the application process:

  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Information about where you have lived since age 18
  • The date you would like your pension to start
  • Information about where you have lived since age 18
  • Information about your spouse or common-law partner, such as SIN and date of birth (if applicable)
  • Your reduction in employment or pension income (if applicable)

How to Qualify for Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

To qualify for the CPP benefit, you must:

  • Be at least 60 years old
  • Have made at least one valid contribution to the CPP

Eligible individuals must send a filled-out application to receive the CPP benefit. You can complete the application form online and submit it electronically. 

How to Qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) Pension

To receive the OAS benefit, you must meet the following:

  • If you are a resident of Canada:
    • Be a Canadian citizen or a legal resident at the time the government approves your OAS pension application 
    • Have resided in Canada for at least ten years since age 18
  • If you are living outside Canada:
    • Have been a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada on the day before you left Canada
    • Have resided in Canada for at least 20 years since age 18

How to Qualify for Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

To qualify for the GIS, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be 65 or older
  • A resident of Canada
  • Earning below the maximum annual income threshold for the GIS based on their marital status
  • Currently receiving the Old Age Security pension

How to Apply for Government Benefits for Seniors

To apply for the government benefits for seniors, follow this procedure:

  1. Decide when you want your pension to start.
  2. Submit your application online or through a paper application. 
  3. Receive a response from Service Canada. 
  4. Review your application status at your “My Service Canada” account or contact the agency. 

FAQs

What benefits do I get when I’m 60? 

These include Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor, and Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Other benefits are CPP Post-Retirement Benefits (PRB), CPP Survivor Benefits, CPP Death Benefit, and International Pension Benefits.

Who is eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement? 

Recipients of the Guaranteed Income Supplement are individuals who are 65 or older, live in Canada, and receive the Old Age Security (OAS) pension. Their income must be below $21,624 if single, widowed, or divorced. The complete list of requirements is on this page

Are seniors getting any money from the government? 

Yes, they are getting money from the government in the form of seniors benefits. Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) are among the primary benefits that the government provides to them. 

Related: What you need to know about inheritance tax in Canada

Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

About Savvy New Canadians

Savvy New Canadians is one of Canada's top personal finance platforms. Millions of Canadians use our site each year to learn how to save for retirement, invest smartly, maximize rewards, and earn extra cash. We have been featured in prominent finance media, including Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC, MSN, Wealthsimple, and TD Direct Investing. Learn more about Savvy New Canadians.

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1 thought on “Government Assistance for Seniors With Low Income in Canada ”

  1. Gravatar for Gregg

    The income threshold for GIS qualification is way to low. With inflation and cost of living, it should be double the current rate. I’m sure it hasn’t been increased in many years.

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