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Old Age Security (OAS)

Old Age Security (OAS) pension is based on age, legal status and years of residence in Canada after the age of 18. There are 2 types – a full and partial pension. If you have lived in Canada for less than 40 years, you may qualify for a partial pension. OAS is taxable. It must be applied for in writing. OAS may also be paid outside of Canada if certain requirements are met.

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to low-income Old Age Security (OAS) recipients living in Canada. (This makes it very important for people who may only qualify for a partial OAS pension to make sure that they do apply for OAS, even if it is for a small amount.) The Guaranteed Income Supplement is based on your annual income, or the combined annual income of you and your spouse or common-law partner. Since your annual income can change from year to year, you must renew your GIS each year.


Allowance provides benefits to low-income persons between the ages of 60-64 who are the spouse/common-law partner (of the opposite or same sex) of a person receiving OAS and GIS. It stops at age 65, when the individual must apply for OAS. It is not taxable, but must be applied for in writing.

Allowance for the Survivor

Allowance for the Survivor provides benefits to eligible low-income persons between the ages of 60-64 whose spouse/common-law partner (of the opposite or same sex) has died and who has not become the spouse/common-law partner of someone else. It stops at age 65, when the individual must apply for OAS. It is not taxable, but must be applied for in writing.

GIS, the Allowance and the Allowance for Survivor may only be paid outside of Canada for the month of departure and for the following 6 months.

Sponsored and Non-sponsored immigrants with less than 10 years of residence in Canada after the age of 18 are not eligible for the GIS, Allowance or Allowance for the Survivor during the time of sponsorship, except in certain circumstances such as the death of the sponsor.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is an employment-based contributory pension plan. It is payable outside of Canada. CPP payments include: retirement pension; disability benefit; survivor benefits (including death benefit; survivor’s pension and children’s benefit). Individuals may choose to receive retirement pension (at a reduced amount) starting at age 60-64; at full amount at age 65; or at a higher level between age 65-70. They must apply in writing for the pension and should do so 6 months before they plan to start receiving benefits.

International Benefits

The International Benefits program may provide retirement, disability or survivor benefits to eligible individuals who have lived or worked in another country, or the surviving spouse, common-law partner or children of eligible individuals who have lived or worked in another country. The Canadian benefits included in the agreements are those paid under the Old Age Security program and the Canada Pension Plan. The benefits from other countries included in the agreements, in the event of retirement, disability and death, vary according to each country’s pension program. For more information on International Benefits between Canada and other countries, visit the website:

Guaranteed Annual Income System

Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) is provided by the Ontario Ministry of Finance to eligible low-income seniors who receive OAS and GIS. No application is required for the GAINS benefit. Once you are receiving OAS and GIS, you will automatically be assessed for eligibility for the GAINS benefit. Eligibility will be based on information from your (and your spouse’s) prior year income tax return(s).

Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance Regular Benefits

Employment Insurance (EI) provides Regular Benefits to individuals who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (for example, due to shortage of work, seasonal or mass lay-offs) and are available for and able to work, but can’t find a job.

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

Employment Insurance (EI) provides Sickness Benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine.

Employment Insurance and Workers and/or Residents Outside Canada

The Employment Insurance (EI) program may provide benefits to certain individuals who reside outside Canada if their job is insured under Canada’s EI program.

Canada Revenue Agency – TAX CREDITS

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers the following programs on behalf of Ontario:

  • Ontario trillium benefit
    • Ontario energy and property tax credit
    • Northern Ontario energy credit
    • Ontario sales tax credit
  • Ontario child benefit (related to the Canada child benefit)
  • Ontario senior homeowners’ property tax grant

The Ontario Senior Homeowners Property Tax Grant is an annual amount provided to help offset property taxes for seniors with low to middle incomes who own their own homes. If you’re a low-to-moderate income senior, you may be eligible for up to $500 back on your property taxes.

The Ontario Energy  Tax Credit benefits more Ontario seniors by increasing the amount they can earn and still be eligible for the credit. Ontarians who own or rent a home could receive up to $900 in tax relief, and seniors are able to claim up to $1,025.

To apply for the above credits, you have to file an income tax and benefit return, even if you have no income to report.

Ontario Drug Benefit Program 

Ontario seniors with valid Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) are eligible for drug coverage under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program on the first day of the month following their 65th birthday. If prescribed by an authorized Ontario prescriber and dispensed in an Ontario pharmacy, the ODB Program covers most of the cost of over 3,300 drug products listed in the ODB Formulary/Comparative Drug Index including some nutrition products and diabetic testing agents. ODB eligible people may be asked to pay some portion of their prescription drug product costs. For example, some seniors pay an annual deductible fee of $100 and a dispensing fee of up to $6.11 for ODB-eligible prescriptions. Low income seniors do not have to pay any deductible but do pay a $2 co-payment towards the dispensing fee per ODB-eligible prescription. Please visit the Ontario Drug Benefit Program website for further information:

Tips to Remember

  1. Many programs are based on information provided on income-tax forms. You should file a tax return even if you have no income in order to receive benefits.
  2. Many federal income support programs must be applied for in writing. For information on Old Age Security or Canada Pension Plan, you should call 1-800-277-9914 and speak to a consultant about what information you should be providing. (TTY-1-800-255-4786)
  3. Several programs have a limited time period to recover back payments that you may be owed, so it is important to contact the government as soon as possible.
  4. You should contact the government to notify them of changes in your circumstances (e.g. death of a spouse, moving) as soon as possible.
  5. Income support programs may be very complex and each person’s circumstances are different. You should always contact the government and not rely on advice from others.

Source: The Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario

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