Government benefits (CPP, OAS, GIS)

The federal government offers retirement benefits based on your income and/or the amount you contribute during your working years. You don’t get these benefits automatically – you have to apply for them.

3 main government benefits

  1. Canada PensionPension A steady income you get after you retire. Some pensions pay you a fixed amount for life. Others save up money for you while you are working. You use that money to create income after you retire.+ read full definition Plan/Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) – You can receive monthly payments starting as early as your 60th birthday. What you get depends on what you paid into the plan while you were working. You must be 59 or older and apply 9 months before you retire. Learn more about CPP/QPP and how to apply.
  2. Old Age SecurityOld age security Canada’s largest public pension program. You qualify if you are age 65 and you have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after age 18. You may pay tax on your OAS income.+ read full definition (OASOAS See Old age security.+ read full definition) – You must be 65 or older to receive payments. You don’t have to live in Canada, but you have to be a Canadian citizen and have lived in Canada for a certain number of years after age 18. What you get depends on your other income and how long you’ve lived in Canada. Learn more about the OAS.
  3. Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)Guaranteed income supplement (GIS) Extra money from the government for people with low¬ incomes who get Old Age Security. What you get depends on your income or your joint income if you have a spouse or common-law partner. GIS is not taxable.+ read full definition For lower-income Canadians 65 and older. What you get depends on your income (and your spouse’s if you have one). It pays out a maximum of $15,000 (couples might get more). Learn more about the GIS.

Are you eligible for a senior’s tax creditTax credit The amount you can deduct from your income when you file your taxes. This lowers the tax that you owe.+ read full definition?

As a senior, you may qualify for certain tax credits. You may also be able to claim expenses like medical costs and caregiver costs.

Key point

When you retire, you’ll likely be entitled to at least some federal government retirement benefits. But you won’t get them if you don’t apply.

Fast fact

You can start receiving CPP payments any time after age 60. But your monthly payment is smaller if you start receiving it before age 65.

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