The Ins and Outs of the Old Age Security Pension

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The Old Age Security program is the Government of Canada’s largest pension program. It is funded out of the general revenues of the Government of Canada, which means that you do not pay into it directly.

The OAS pension is a monthly payment available to seniors aged 65 and older who meet the legal status and residence requirements. If you meet the requirements, you can receive the OAS pension even if you are still working or have never worked.

Who can receive the Old Age Security pension?

If you live in Canada

You must:

  • be 65 or older
  • be a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada at the time we approve your pension application
  • have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after turning 18 years old

If you live outside Canada

You must:

  • be 65 or older
  • have been a Canadian citizen or legal resident of Canada on the day before you left Canada
  • have lived in Canada for at least 20 years after turning 18 years old

Applying for the Old Age Security pension

Automatic enrollment

Automatic enrollment has eliminated the need for many seniors to apply for the OAS pension.

If you are going to be automatically enrolled for your OAS pension, you will be notified by mail the month after you turn 64 years old. If you do not receive a letter within six months after turning 64, you have not been automatically enrolled. If you would like to start receiving your OAS pension at age 65, or a later date, you will need to complete an application form and submit it to Service Canada to receive your pension.

Deferring your Old Age Security pension

You do not have to start receiving your OAS pension when you turn 65. You can start receiving it any time after age 65. The longer you delay receiving it, the more money you will receive. Your monthly pension payment will be increased by 0.6 percent for every month you delay receiving it after age 65, up to a maximum of 36 percent at age 70.

If you choose to delay receiving your OAS pension after age 65:

  • you will not be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income seniors during the period you are delaying your OAS pension
  • your spouse or common-law partner will not be eligible for the Allowance for the period you are delaying your OAS pension. The Allowance is a monthly benefit available to the spouse or common-law partner of an OAS recipient who is eligible for the GIS

To decide when to start receiving your OAS pension, you should consider your personal situation. It may affect other benefits that you, or your spouse or common-law partner could receive. You should take into account your:

  • current and future sources of income;
  • employment status now and in the future
  • health
  • plans for retirement

When should I apply?

If you were not selected for automatic enrollment, and if you want to start receiving your OAS pension, you should apply at least six months before your 65th birthday.

If you are already 65 and want to start receiving the OAS pension, send your application as soon as possible so you won’t lose any payments.

If you are applying for your OAS pension after you turn 65, and you do not want to delay the receipt of your pension, we will give you a retroactive payment for up to 12 months. You may be eligible for retroactive payments covering a longer period if, due to a medical condition, you can show that you were unable to apply earlier or to ask someone to apply on your behalf.

If you were not born in Canada, you must prove your legal status in Canada with your citizenship or immigration documents. If you have not lived continuously in Canada after turning age 18, you must submit proof of all the dates you arrived in or left Canada for periods of over six months. You can do this by providing your passports, visas, airline, ship, and bus tickets, and other documents that prove your residence history in Canada.

The amount you will receive (whether you qualify for a full pension or a partial pension) depends on how long you have lived in Canada.

Also, OAS benefits are adjusted four times a year (January, April, July and October) based on the Consumer Price Index.

If you would like more information about the Old Age Security Pension program or pension programs, contact GB Pilley & Associates Ltd., Chartered Professional Accountants at 604 926 3522.

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