Old Age Security Canada

Old Age Security, or OAS for short, is a Government of Canada program that provides a monthly income to retired Canadians. It is one of the many benefits available to individuals in Canada. Often, OAS is paired with the Canada Pension Plan and Guaranteed Income Supplement retirement benefits to supplement income during retirement. In order to be eligible for OAS, you must meet certain requirements concerning your age and residency in Canada. This article will provide an overview of Old Age Security in Canada, including eligibility requirements and how to apply. Continue reading to learn more.

What is Old Age Security?

The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly stipend that can be received by people who are 65 years of age or older. Service Canada may be able to automatically enroll you for the OAS pension in some situations. In other instances, you will have to apply for the Old Age Security benefit. If you have been enrolled automatically, Service Canada will let you know. In many instances, you won’t have to go through the application process to claim this benefit.

The Old Age Security pension is one of the key components of Canada’s retirement income system. The OAS pension is funded by general tax revenues. This means people who are not receiving the OAS pension contribute to its funding through their taxation. The maximum amount that a person can receive from the Old Age Security pension is currently $707.68 per month, or $778.45 per month if you’re 75 or older (as of December 2023). The calculation of OAS payments is dependent on numerous factors.

If you are eligible for the Old Age Security pension, you will start receiving payments automatically once you reach the age of 65. In the event that you’re not automatically enrolled, contact Service Canada. If you want to receive your benefits later, you can defer payments to age 70. There is a benefit to doing so, a higher monthly payment, but more on that later.

Related Reading: CPP vs OAS: What are the differences?

Old Age Security Clawback

The Old Age Security (OAS) clawback, or OAS pension recovery tax, affects those with a net annual income above a set threshold. For 2021, the threshold was $79,845 and for 2022 the threshold was $81,761. For 2023, the threshold is set at $86,912. This tax is 15% of the difference between the OAS clawback threshold and your actual income. In other words, you must pay additional tax on OAS income when you earn more than the threshold.

For example, let’s say you earn $125,000 a year. This is $45,155 over the 2022 threshold. The OAS clawback base is calculated at $6,773.25 ($45,155 x 15%). Fortunately, you would not have to pay this tax in a lump sum. Rather, your tax would be spread across 12 months meaning your OAS payments would be it’s usual amount less $564.44 ($6,773.25 / 12 months).

If you are planning to retire soon, you may want to consider the implications of the OAS clawback on your overall retirement income. You may also want to consult with a financial advisor to see if there are ways to minimize the impact of this tax.

Related Reading: Is OAS Taxable?

Old Age Security Eligibility

Eligibility for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension is not based on employment history or status. You can receive the OAS pension even if you have never worked or are still working. Below are additional details on Old Age Security eligibility in Canada:

  • If you reside in Canada, you must:
    • be 65 years of age or older
    • be a resident or a citizen of Canada at the time your OAS pension application is approved
    • have lived in Canada for at least 10 years since turning 18
  • If you live outside Canada, you must:
    • be older than 65 years of age
    • have been a citizen of Canada or a permanent resident on the day before you left Canada
    • have lived in Canada for 20 years or more since turning 18

What is the minimum age to collect OAS in Canada?

The minimum age to collect OAS in Canada is 65 years. The government considered increasing the age limit to 67 at one point in time, but this piece of legislation did not go through. As of 2024, the minimum age remains to be 65.

Canadians who work outside of Canada for Canadian companies

If you are a Canadian working for a Canadian employer outside of the country, such as in the armed forces or on behalf of a bank, your work time abroad may be counted as residing inside Canada. These circumstances have unique eligibility criteria for Old Age Security in Canada.

To qualify this time working abroad as a permanent resident, you must have:

  • returned to Canada within six months of leaving employment
  • turned 65 while still working and keep your residence in Canada while you were living outside of Canada

You must submit the following two documents:

  • evidence of employment from the company
  • evidence of a physical return to Canada (unless you turned 65 while still employed outside Canada)

If you or your spouse/common-law partner/dependent work(s) abroad for an international organization, time spent living outside of Canada may still count as residency in Canada.

  • If none of the above situations applies to you, you may be able to receive Old Age Security payments, a pension from another country, or a combination of both. In addition:
    • lived in one of the countries with which Canada has a social security agreement; or
    • agreed to contribute to the social security system of one of the countries with which Canada has signed a social security agreement

Because the duration of time that you’ve lived in Canada determines eligibility for OAS, these are important aspects to consider.

Related Reading: Top 10 Retirement Planning Tips For Canadians

Old Age Security Application

In most cases, individuals are automatically enrolled into Old Age Security in Canada. However, you may have to apply if you don’t receive correspondence from Service Canada about your enrollment. Alternatively, you may need to provide additional information to finalize your application. Below are the steps to follow to apply.

1. Examine whether you need to apply

You will receive a notification from Service Canada via letter that you are eligible for the OAS pension. You must submit an application for the Old Age Security pension if:

  • you receive a letter from Service Canada asking you to apply
  • the information in their letter to you is incorrect

If you don’t get a letter about your Old Age Security pension the month after you turn 64, contact Service Canada to find out whether you need to apply.

Related Reading: How much will CPP and OAS increase in 2023?

2. Determine when you would like your OAS to begin

You will be asked to select one of the following:

  • at the age of 65, you can begin receiving your pension (your pension will start the month after your 65th birthday)
  • begin receiving your pension on the date you specify (it can be as late as the year you turn 70 years of age)

It is crucial that you understand when the best time for you to start receiving your pension benefits is. Remember, if you hold off on collecting OAS until later, you will receive a higher monthly amount.

Related Reading: How Much Money Do I Need To Retire In Canada?

3. Send your application

You can apply via one of the following options:

a. Apply online

In order to apply online, you must:

  • be at least one month older than 64
  • not be presently receiving a pension from the Old Age Security
  • have not yet submitted a request for the Old Age Security pension, and Service Canada is not currently reviewing your request
  • be residing in Canada at the time
  • not having a third party on your account who is authorized (for example, a person acting by proxy)

If you want to apply online, you first need to create a My Service Canada Account (MSCA). You’ll need a My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to register, and you will be given a personal access code to complete the process.

b. Apply using a paper application

If you’re submitting by mail or in person instead, be sure to include the following items:

  • print and fill out the paper form Application for OAS (ISP-3550)
  • mail the application or bring it to a nearby Service Canada office in person
  • refer to the Reference Guide (ISP-3550A) for guidance on completing your application form

4. You will receive a response from Service Canada

A letter will be mailed to you with either:

  • a decision regarding your application
  • a request for additional information

Your decision letter will contain the following:

  • the amount you’ll get each month
  • the date of your first payment
  • any previous payments owed to you

5. Check the status of your application

You can check the status of your application by signing into your My Service Canada Account (MSCA). Reach out to Service Canada for more information, if you have questions. If you don’t have an MSCA account, you can sign up for one for no charge.

Related Reading: Old Age Security Increase in 2023: What You Need to Know

6. If you object with the decision

If you are dissatisfied with the contents of your decision letter, you have the option of requesting a reconsideration. You must submit your request for review in writing within 90 days after receiving your decision letter. Service Canada employees who were not involved in the initial evaluation will review your application again.

a. How to Request a Review of the Decision

You can request a reconsideration in one of three ways:

  • You may submit your request online using My Service Canada Account (MSCA)
  • You may complete and submit form ISP-3134
  • You may prepare and submit a letter requesting reconsideration, along with the following:
    • name
    • address
    • telephone number
    • social insurance number or client identification number
    • a clear justification of your disagreement with the decision
    • any new information that could impact the decision
    • signature and the date
b. If you fill out the request form on paper

Alternatively, you may submit your request form on paper or in person, instead of online. Make sure to sign and date your written request before submitting it by either:

  • mailing it back to the return address on the decision letter
  • visiting a Service Canada office in person to drop off the documents

After you’ve submitted your request, it can take a few months for Service Canada to review your application and any new supporting information before you hear back.

c. If you disagree with the reconsideration, you may appeal

If you disagree with the new ruling, you should appeal to the Social Security Tribunal. And if you need help communicating your appeal to the Social Security Tribunal, you will have to:

  • prepare a complete copy of the Notice of Appeal – Income Security – General Division form, section 9
  • contact the Social Security Tribunal and provide your representative’s information

To modify or terminate your representative, you must first contact the Social Security Tribunal directly. If you want your chosen representative to contact both Service Canada and the Social Security Tribunal on your behalf, fill out section 9 of the Notice of Appeal form as well as the Consent to Communicate Information to an Authorized Person form for Service Canada.

Old Age Security Payments Dates

Below are the upcoming OAS payment dates:

  • December 20, 2023
  • January 29, 2024
  • February 27, 2024
  • March 26, 2024
  • April 26, 2024
  • May 29, 2024
  • June 26, 2024
  • July 29, 2024
  • August 28, 2024
  • September 25, 2024
  • October 29, 2024
  • November 27, 2024
  • December 20, 2024

Related Reading: Estate Planning Checklist For Canadians

Old Age Security Contact

The Old Age Security (OAS) program is one of Canada’s biggest social welfare programs. It is handled and overseen by Service Canada. If you have any questions about the OAS program or would like to apply for it, you can contact Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914 or access them through the Internet at Canada.ca/OAS. You may also choose to visit a location in person to have your queries answered.

What is the purpose of Old Age Security?

The Old Age Security (OAS) program is a cornerstone of Canada’s social safety net. The purpose of the OAS program is twofold: it helps ensure seniors have an income during their retirement years, and it also encourages people to save for their own retirement. The OAS program is one of the key ways that the Canadian government supports its citizens in their golden years. If you aren’t already enrolled, but are eligible, apply today!

Read More: What Are the Best Retirement Plans?

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