In Canada, there are three main sources of income available to Canadians in retirement: Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security (OAS) and of course, Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). You can plan to take advantage of this benefit, or tell your parents and older relatives about it so they can partake. If you aren’t sure about the details of Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada, we’ve got you covered. Everything you need to know can be found below.
Table of contents
- What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada?
- How Does GIS Work?
- How do I qualify for Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada?
- How much is the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada?
- What is the average GIS payment per month?
- How long does it take to receive GIS after applying?
- Can I receive GIS if I live outside of Canada?
- How to Apply for GIS
- Does everyone get Guaranteed Income Supplement?
What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada?
The Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada is a government benefit added to the Old Age Security program. It is only meant for older Canadians with low incomes. What’s more? Suppose your spouse is deceased, you still have an opportunity to enjoy the GIS benefit.
The two allowances for spouses under the GIS benefits include:
- Allowance benefits, and
- Allowance for the survivor benefits
Let’s look into both briefly.
Allowance benefits are for those whose spouses or common law partners are currently receiving the GIS benefit. If you are already receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada, it means that your spouse can do the same. Although, your spouse must meet certain requirements, such as:
- Be a resident of Canada for at least 10 years since their 18th birthday
- Be 60 to 64 years of age
- Proof that you qualify for the GIS and you’re receiving OAS already
- Your income plus your spouse’s (or common law partner’s) income must exceed the given maximum amount set by the government that year
- Must be a legal Canadian citizen
When the GIS administrators confirm the above criteria, your spouse becomes eligible to enjoy the GIS benefits with you.
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Allowance for the Survivor Benefits
Allowance for the survivor benefits is for those who may have lost a spouse or a common law partner. Other requirements that determine your eligibility include:
- Your spouse or common-law partner must be deceased at the time of application; also, you should not be remarried or in any common law relationship
- Be 60 to 64 years of age
- Your annual income must be below the maximum amount stipulated by the government
- You must live in Canada and be a legal citizen
- You must have lived in Canada for at least 10 years from when you turned 18 years
How Does GIS Work?
The Guaranteed Income Supplement aligns with the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit. Before you qualify for the GIS, you must have been receiving OAS payments. You may not even have to apply for GIS. This is because the OAS benefits qualify you and eligibility for GIS is verified automatically, in most cases.
But what’s OAS all about? Old Age Security is a Canadian pension benefit for low income citizens that are 65 years or older. It is taxable and anyone seeking to enjoy its benefits must meet requirements, like:
- Be 65 years or older
- Must have lived in Canada for 40 years from your 18th birthday
- Must be a Canadian resident and a legal citizen
- Your yearly income must be below the maximum amount set by the government for that particular year
Often, the government may begin to pay you the OAS benefit the month after your 65th birthday. After paying that, they would also start paying the GIS as well, if you’re eligible. In most instances, you will automatically receive OAS and GIS. If you believe you’re eligible but haven’t started receiving payments, reach out to a Service Canada near you. If they’ve started paying the OAS without the GIS, you can apply for the GIS so long as you are eligible.
Can you get both OAS and GIS?
Yes, OAS and GIS often go hand in hand. In addition, the two programs are interlinked. If you’re already receiving OAS, chances are you’ll be eligible for GIS as well. Lastly, many Canadians are also eligible for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) program.
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How do I qualify for Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada?
To qualify for the GIS in Canada, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be above 65 years
- Must be receiving the OAS benefits
- Must be a citizen of Canada
- Must reside in Canada
- Your earnings must be less than the maximum amount prescribed by the government
Note that we mentioned 65 years here, but said 60 to 64 years earlier. Those who are 60 to 64 years will only be eligible for the allowance benefits. Let’s explore further.
If you are 60 to 64 years of age, and your spouse is a low-income earner who is receiving the OAS benefits, you qualify for a GIS. The same is also applicable to low-earning widows/widowers. Otherwise, the age threshold is 65 and up.
Also, note that certain factors can affect your eligibility for the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada. Such factors include:
- Changes in your income (whether an increase or decrease)
- Divorce or separation from your spouse
- If you or your spouse spends 2 or more days in jail
- If you travel out of Canada for 6 months or longer
- Death of a beneficiary
Where any of the above happens, contact service Canada and update them to avoid penalties. However, they may automatically revoke your benefits if there are changes to your circumstances or lifestyle.
To apply for GIS, you would need to create an MSCA (My Service Canada Account) and follow the steps to apply. More on this later. Now, let’s look at how much you should expect as your GIS benefit.
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How much is the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada?
Determining how much your GIS payment will be is fairly simple. It all depends on your previous year’s taxable income. You can actually calculate it yourself and get a close estimate for your financial planning. Consider the below sources of income that feed into your taxable income and how much you’ll receive from GIS:
- Rental income
- Dividends, capital gains, and interest on savings
- Insurance benefits
- Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan (CPP or QPP)
- Compensation benefits
- Employment/self-employment net income
- RRSP tax deductions
- Employment insurance premiums
Once you know what your annual taxable income is, you can roughly estimate your GIS payment.
What is the maximum income to qualify for GIS in Canada?
Below are the maximum incomes and payments for GIS, depending on your category and circumstance.
|Circumstances||Maximum Monthly Payment||Annual Income Requirement|
|You’re single, widowed or divorced||$1,026.96||Less than $20,832|
|Your spouse or common-law partner receives the full OAS pension||$618.15||Less than $27,552|
|Your spouse or common-law partner receives the allowance||$618.15||Less than $38,592|
|If your spouse or common-law partner does not receive an OAS pension||$1,026.96||Less than $49,920|
Keep in mind that the maximums are listed above. You might receive less than the maximum, depending on your circumstances.
What is the average GIS payment per month?
On average, Canadians earn $800 in Guaranteed Income Supplement payments. This is the midway point between the different criteria and income maximums.
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How long does it take to receive GIS after applying?
Receiving GIS shouldn’t take more than one month from the day you apply. The GIS benefits should come automatically when you qualify for OAS. In most cases, you’ll receive the first benefit one month after your 65th birthday. The Canadian government has all the information available to them so you should be automatically enrolled. If you can, set up direct deposit so you can receive your money faster.
Usually, you’d receive a letter showing your eligibility; informing you of the first payment date. If you don’t receive any letter, you can always apply. Once you apply and you meet all the requirements, your letter would come almost immediately. If you are not satisfied with the content of the letter, you have 90 days to request a review.
Can I receive GIS if I live outside of Canada?
You would not be entitled to any GIS benefits if you stay outside Canada for more than six months. In this case, you would cease to be a resident of Canada and would lose your right to certain benefits, including GIS. Plus, you may even have to pay back the benefits received while you were abroad. Once you return to Canada and resume your Canadian residency, your GIS benefits should resume.
How to Apply for GIS
In most instances, you’ll begin receiving GIS payments automatically. But if you don’t, applying for the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada is not as stressful as you may expect. Follow the steps below:
Before applying for GIS, confirm any of the following;
- You’re already receiving the OAS (Old Age Security) benefits but you haven’t gotten your GIS yet
- Service Canada has sent you a letter to apply
- If you’re 64 years already but you haven’t heard from the government, reach out to them
Submit relevant details
For a successful application, ensure you have the following on hand:
- Your banking details
- Your SIN (Social Insurance Number)
- Your spouse’s or common law partner’s details like SIN and date of birth (if applicable)
- Your preferred GIS commencement date
- Details of any travels since your 18th birthday
- Information about income and expenses
Most can complete their GIS application online from the comfort of home. You can also apply physically and submit it to a Service Canada office. After applying, you’ll receive a response telling you if you qualified or if you’ll need to send in more information. If you qualify for the GIS, you’ll receive a letter. This letter would let you know how much you’ll receive per month and when you’ll start receiving it.
Does everyone get Guaranteed Income Supplement?
No, not every Canadian is eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement in Canada. In fact, it’s reserved for a small group of Canadians — low income seniors. If you’re eligible, you should start receiving payments automatically. And if not, you can always apply to start receiving payments. Just remember to submit your taxes every year because that’s how the government verifies eligibility!
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