We all hope to have a sizeable nest egg by the time we reach our golden years. However, for various reasons, that will not be possible for all of us. Fortunately, the Canadian government offers various forms of financial assistance that senior citizens can use to get by.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
Some jobs include a company pension plan; this federal program acts as a monthly supplement to that or as the sole employment pension for Canadian workers who have now retired. The CPP applies across the country, with the exception of Quebec (which was the Quebec Pension Plan and performs a similar function).
To qualify, you must be at least 60 years of age, at which time you can receive reduced benefits, if you so choose. 65 is the standard starting age, though you may start as late as 70 with increased benefits.
CPP does not start automatically; you must be a least one month past your 59th birthday to apply and for your benefits to start in 12 months. You also must have worked in Canada and made at least one valid contribution to CPP.
Old Age Security (OAS)
This is the country’s largest pension plan. As with CPP, it officially commences at age 65. The month after your 64th birthday, you will receive a letter from the government stating that you are now eligible to receive OAS. If you wish to commence your monthly payments, fill out the requested information and send it back.
Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
If your income falls below a certain annual threshold, you qualify for additional financial assistance from the federal government. The GIS acts as a monthly, non-taxable benefit to Old Age Security (OAS) pension recipients who have a low income and are living in Canada. It is not necessary to apply for the GIS; the government automatically reviews income totals from your tax forms and will alert you as to whether you qualify.