Seniors -> Old Age Security Pension
Federal 2021 Budget Proposals:
COVID-19 Update: On May 12, the Prime Minister announced a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension, with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the GIS. This means, of course, that high-income seniors will also be receiving the $300 additional OAS payment. However, although the PM indicated it will be tax-free, we'll have to wait for the legislation to see if it will be clawed back. As per One-time tax-free payment for seniors, seniors eligible to receive the OAS or GIS in June 2020 will receive the tax-free payment. As per a June 4, 2020 announcement, the payment will be received during the week of July 6th.
The Federal 2016 Budget cancelled the provisions in the Old Age Security Act that increased the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS benefits from 65 to 67 and Allowance benefits from 60 to 62 over the 2023 to 2029 period. The Budget also announced that the Government is looking at how a new Seniors Price Index that reflects the cost of living faced by seniors could be developed to be used as the index for increasing the OAS and GIS.
The Canadian Old Age Security Pension is available to Canadian citizens or legal residents age 65 or older, who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after age 18. If you spent time outside Canada working for a Canadian employer, this may still count toward your time lived in Canada. For Canadian seniors living outside Canada, the OAS is still available for those who were Canadian citizens or legal residents at the time they left the country, as long as they lived at least 20 years in Canada after age 18. If you have lived in Canada for 40 years after age 18, you should be eligible to receive the maximum pension.
Service Canada also provides the ability for recipients of OAS or CPP benefits to view and update their personal information online.
Canada has social security agreements with many other countries, so those not qualifying for the OAS as above may still qualify for some type of pension. See the Lived or Living Outside Canada - Pensions and Benefits information on the Service Canada website for further information.
Proactive enrolment was implemented in a phased-in approach starting in 2013, eliminating the need for many seniors to apply for OAS and GIS. Service Canada sends a notification letter to those who can be automatically enrolled. The letter is sent the month after you turn 64. See Automatic Enrollment for Old Age Security Pension on the Government of Canada website.
Service Canada has an Old Age Security program toolkit - Your complete guide to Canada's Old Age Security program. The "interactive" option is a pdf file which you'll download. You can click the links to get to different sections. On page 6 you can click Yes or No to questions which will help determine if you are eligible for OAS, and if you are, you can carry on to the next page, which determines if you are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
For contact numbers or application forms to apply for the OAS, see Old Age Security Pension on the Government of Canada website, and scroll down to "How do I apply?".
If you are eligible for OAS, and have lived in Canada for at least 40 years after turning age 18, you will receive the full OAS pension. If you left Canada to live elsewhere, or you haven't resided in Canada for the full 40 years, the OAS amount is calculated at 2.5% (1/40th) of the full OAS pension for each complete year of residence in Canada after age 18. There are other complications to the calculation for those not always resident in Canada - see How much could you receive on the Government of Canada website.
OAS monthly payments are adjusted quarterly, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. For current average and maximum payment amounts, see the Old Age Security Payment Amounts on the Government of Canada website.
OAS payments are considered taxable income. If your income exceeds the threshold, some or all of your OAS may be "clawed back". See our article on the OAS Clawback.
Since July 1, 2013, the Government allows for the voluntary deferral of the OAS pension, for up to 5 years, to receive a higher, actuarially adjusted, annual pension. The OAS pension will be increased by 0.6% for each month that it is deferred past the usual starting age of 65. This is 7.2% for each full year that it is deferred. If it is deferred for the maximum length of time, to age 70, it will be increased by 36%. See Deferring Your Old Age Security Pension (scroll down) on the Government of Canada website. This may be a good thing to do if your income will still be in the clawback range past age 65.
If you are already receiving your OAS pension and decide that you should cancel it in order to defer it, you can request this if you've been receiving it for less than six months. See Federal Court decision Pike v. Canada (Attorney General) 2019 FC 135 re a person who waited too long to request this.
You can request that tax be deducted from your OAS payments, by visiting the My Service Canada Account (MSCA), or by completing the Request for Voluntary Federal Income Tax Deductions form (ISP 3520). If you previously requested voluntary tax deductions, you can also change or stop the deduction amount using one of these methods. These methods apply to voluntary tax deductions from Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payments as well, but there is another method to change tax deductions related to the OAS clawback/recovery tax, which is not voluntary.
Government of Canada ResourcesContact Old Age Security
How is my pension calculated? Check to see if you will receive the maximum OAS.
Old Age Security Act and Regulations
Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) benefit rates - includes OAS and GIS, in Excel format
Revised: April 20, 2021
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