Government Benefits for Canadian Seniors That You might Miss Out On

Most Canadians who have worked and contributed to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) are eligible for benefits when they retire, if they become disabled or deceased. To help you understand if you are qualified, we have compiled a brief summary explaining government benefits for eligible Canadians.

Retirement Pension

The CPP provides a monthly benefit to eligible Canadians who have worked in Canada and made a contribution to the plan. You may begin receiving benefits at age 65 but this pension is available early at a reduced rate at age 60 and likewise at an increased rate if deferred to age 70.

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Before deciding when to receive your pension, one important consideration will be how much you have contributed as well as how many contributions you’ve made. Most Canadians over age 18 earning more than $3500 per year must contribute to CPP with employers paying half and you contributing the other half. Self-employed persons are responsible to pay the full contribution each month.

Pension Sharing and Credit Splitting

Pension sharing is an option in which couples that are married or common-law may voluntarily share their CPP retirement pensions. In Credit Splitting, contributions made by the couple may be divided equally after a separation or divorce.

Old Age Security (OAS)

The Government of Canada funds the Old Age Security pension program and you must apply for the OAS monthly benefit. It is available to Canadians at age 65 that meet the legal residence requirements of Canada. Criteria for eligibility includes being a legal resident at the time your OAS is approved and that you have resided in Canada for at lease 10 years after you turned age 18. For Canadians living in another country, you must have been a Canadian citizen or legal resident before leaving Canada and you must have resided in Canada for at least 20 years after age 18. More information is available on the Government of Canada Website.

Guaranteed Income Supplement

If you are living in Canada and have a low income, you may be eligible to receive a non-taxable monthly Guaranteed Income Supplement that can be added to your OAS benefit. Individuals between age 60 and 64 with a spouse receiving a GIS, or if you are widowed, you may also be eligible to receive this benefit.  

Post Retirement Benefit

If you are employed while receiving your CPP retirement pension you may increase your retirement income with a lifetime benefit called Post Retirement Benefit (PRB). You may be eligible if you are age 60 or 70, making CPP contributions, receiving CPP or QPP. To receive this benefit, both you and your employer must be making contributions, and if you are self-employed you must be making the full contribution. At age 70 you will no longer contribute.

Disability Benefit

If you have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan, and become disabled, the plan may make monthly disability benefit payments to you provided that you cannot work at a job on a regular basis. If you have dependent children, they may be eligible to receive benefits.

Death benefits - Survivor’s Benefit

A death benefit is a one-time payment to, or on behalf of, the estate of a person who contributed to the CPP. You may be eligible for a CPP monthly Survivor’s Benefit upon the death of a spouse or common-law partner. An International Survivor’s Benefit may be paid to Canadians who have worked or lived in another country.

Veteran’s Affairs Canada Death Benefit

For members of the Canadian Forces that have died in the line of duty, Veteran’s Affairs Canada may offer a lump sum payment to the estate of the individual.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

The Decedent Estates program manages the estate of a deceased First Nations individual who lived on a reserve before their death.


Note: If you are a resident of Quebec, please visit Régie des rentes du Québec for info about benefits and pensions under the Quebec Pension Plan. 

Written by Alice Lucette

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