Skip to Main Content

What is Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement?

Almost all Canadians qualify for the Canada Pension Plan, except for people in Quebec who have to apply for QPP. You qualify if you were employed in Canada and if CPP was deducted from your paycheque(s) or you contributed CPP payments. What some don’t know is that many Canadians also qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) and a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

Old Age Security

In order to qualify for OAS, you have to meet the following criteria:

Employment history is of no concerns with OAS. You can apply once you turn 65, even if you were never employed or you’re still employed.

Qualifications for Old Age Security also depend on where you are living at the time you are planning to apply.

If you live in Canada:

  • Be 65 years old or older
  • Be a Canadian citizen or a legal resident at the time we approve your Old Age Security pension application, and
  • Have resided in Canada for at least 10 years after turning 18.

If you live outside of Canada:

  • Be 65 years old or older
  • Have been a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada on the day before you left Canada, and
  • Have resided in Canada for at least 20 years after turning 18.

Be advised that from 2023, the OAS and GIS age will rise from age 65 to 67. However, it will take six years to be fully implemented.

With OAS, the question of when to apply is a bit tricky, because you should be getting letters telling you that you could qualify for the benefit. However, not everyone gets them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t qualify.

The following scenarios could apply to you, if you received:

  • A letter informing you that you could be eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension
    • You will need to apply for your OAS pension as soon as possible by completing and mailing the application form enclosed in your letter
  • A letter informing you that you were selected for automatic enrolment
    • You will not have to apply for your OAS pension provided that the information in your letter is accurate.
    • If you wish to defer your OAS pension you may do so by:
  • Accessing your My Service Canada account and following the directions, or
  • Signing and returning the automatic enrollment letter by mail.

If you didn’t receive anything, then this may apply to you:

  • If you wish to start receiving your Old Age Security (OAS) pension at age 65, you should apply for your OAS pension right away.
  • If you have already reached 65, and you wish to start your OAS pension immediately, you should apply as soon as possible so you don't lose any payments.

Be advised that financial consideration is a criterion in applying for OAS as well.

Guaranteed Income Supplement

This pension benefit is restricted to those who are of retirement age and are in financial need.

If you need financial help, despite getting CPP and OAS, then you have to meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are a legal resident of Canada
  • You are receiving an Old Age Security pension
  • Your annual income (or in the case of a couple, your combined income) is lower than the maximum annual income.

Eligibility for this benefit is reviewed every single year. The government uses information from your income tax return. Usually, qualification letters are received in July.

For this benefit, you have to apply in writing. There is a Guaranteed Income Supplement or Statement of Income for the Allowance or Allowance for the Survivor application form that you have to complete.

Benefit rates vary and how much you will receive depends on your marital status and your income from the previous year. In 2013, the maximum amount of GIS you could receive as a single person was $740.55.

There are reporting requirements for income and deductions that you have to advise the government of in order to qualify and continue to qualify for this benefit.

Read More:

Old Age Security

Guaranteed Income Supplement