Guaranteed Income Supplement
Table of Contents
About the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
1. What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
The Guaranteed Income Supplement provides additional money, on top of the Old Age Security pension, to low-income seniors living in Canada. To be eligible for the GIS benefit, you must be receiving the Old Age Security pension and meet the income requirements explained below.
Applying for the Guaranteed Income Supplement
2. How do I get the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
You must apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). To get an application form, contact us at 1-800-277-9914 (TTY: 1-800-255-4786).
You can also re-apply for GIS by filing your income tax return. The Seniors section of the Canada Revenue Agency's Web site contains information on filing your tax return.
If you did not qualify for the GIS benefit in the past, but you think you might be eligible now, you should apply as soon as possible.
Normally, individuals must apply for the GIS benefit on their own behalf. If you are applying for someone else, please contact us for more information.
3. What documents will I need?
The type of documents you are required to provide will depend on your marital status, the type of application you are making, and whether you are applying for the first time.
The application kit will describe what documents, if any, you need to provide. If you are married, you may be asked to provide a marriage certificate. If you are living with a common-law partner (same sex or opposite sex) you may be asked to complete and sign a "statutory declaration" and provide other supporting documentation.
Renewing your benefits
4. Do I have to re-apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement every year?
Changes made to the Old Age Security Act have simplified the application process for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). It is now easier for you to apply and receive the benefits for which you are eligible. You only need to apply once for the benefit and will not need to re-apply, as long as you file an income tax return each year.
If you do not file an income tax return, or if we need more information, we will send you a renewal application form in the mail. If you receive an application form from us, you must complete and return it as soon as you have all the necessary income information, even if you file a tax return.
The GIS benefit is based on your annual income, or the combined annual income of you and your spouse or common-law partner, if you have one. A change in income could therefore result in a change in benefit. Each July, you will receive a letter that tells you the new amount of your monthly payment or the reasons why your GIS benefit has stopped.
5. How is eligibility determined for the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
To qualify for the GIS, you must be eligible for the Old Age Security pension. Eligibility also depends on whether the combined income of you and your spouse or common-law partner, if you have one, exceeds a specific amount.
On July 1, 2008, an amendment to the Old Age Security Act came into effect increasing the GIS earnings exemption to $3 500 from $500. A single pensioner, for example, earning $3 500 or more, will now be able to keep up to an additional $1 500 in annual GIS benefits.
Consult the Old Age Security Payment Rates for current benefit rates and maximum income levels.
6. What if I marry or separate?
If you marry or separate, or if your spouse or common-law partner dies, you must let us know because it may affect your benefits.
If you and your spouse or common-law partner are separated for reasons beyond your control (for example, if one of you has to live in a hospital or nursing home), you can each be considered as a single person if that will give you a higher monthly payment.
7. What do you consider to be income?
When applying for the GIS benefit, you, and in the case of a couple, you and your spouse or common-law partner, must report the following income:
- Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan benefits
- private pension income and superannuation
- foreign pension income
- RRSPs that you cashed during the year
- Employment Insurance benefits
- interest on any savings
- any capital gains or dividends
- income from any rental properties
- any employment income minus allowable deductions including your Canada Pension Plan and/or Quebec Pension Plan contributions and your Employment Insurance premiums. Subtract the lesser of the result of the calculation or $3,500;
- income from other sources such as workers' compensation payments, alimony, etc.
Benefits received from the Old Age Security program, including the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowance, are not included as income. Look at the application form for more details about what to count as income.
8. What happens if there is a loss or reduction of income?
In some situations, such as when you stop working or when you suffer a loss or reduction of pension income, we can calculate your GIS benefit by estimating your pension and employment income for this year, instead of using last year's pension and employment income. If you or your spouse or common-law partner have a lower income this year for either of these reasons, you should contact us. Your benefits may increase.
Receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement
9. How and when will I receive my payments?
If you are eligible for the GIS benefit, we will add it to your Old Age Security pension payment each month.
Payments usually arrive in the last three banking days of each month. Please consult our list of exact payment dates. If your payment is late by more than a week, or if you lose your payment, please contact us.
If you apply late and are eligible to receive the GIS, we can give you a retroactive payment of up to 11 months plus the month in which we receive your application.
10. Can you send the payment to my bank?
Yes. Through our direct deposit service, your pension payment is automatically deposited into your bank account. Although payment by cheque is possible, the benefits of using direct deposit include:
- always receiving your payments on time
- knowing that your cheques will never be lost, stolen or damaged.
You can sign up for direct deposit online, by phone, in person, by mail, or when you apply for your Guaranteed Income Supplement.
11. What happens if I move?
If you are planning to move, you must contact us with your new address and postal code as soon as possible. This will allow us to update our records and make sure that your payment gets to you on time. Even if your payments are deposited directly into your bank account, we still need to know your new address so we can send you important information and your yearly income tax slip. As well, if we need to contact you for additional income information, we will have your new address.
You can notify us of a change of address 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling our automated telephone system at 1-800-277-9914. You will be asked for your social insurance number, your new address and postal code as well as your telephone number with your area code. If you are calling on behalf of another person, we cannot make any changes unless we have written authorization from that person.
If you live in Canada, you can use the My Service Canada Account online service to change your address and direct deposit information.
You can also notify us in writing. See the list of our regional offices for the mailing address for your region.
12. Can I receive my GIS outside Canada?
The Government of Canada designed the Guaranteed Income Supplement to assist low-income pensioners living in Canada. For this reason, if you leave Canada we will only pay you for the month you leave, and for six months after that. Then your payments will stop. For example, if you leave Canada in January, we will send payments until the end of July. After July, the payments will stop. You have an obligation to tell us when you plan to be outside the country for more than six months.
If you do stay outside Canada for longer than six months, you can always re-apply when you return to live in Canada.
Most recipients will receive their cheque in the local currency of their country of residence.
13. Will I get cost-of-living increases?
Yes. We will increase your payments to reflect any increases in the cost of living as measured by the consumer price index. We make any necessary adjustments every three months – in January, April, July and October.
Your monthly payments will not go down if the cost of living goes down.
Consult the Old Age Security payment rates for current supplement rate information.
14. Can my benefits stop?
We stop paying your Guaranteed Income Supplement if one of the following happens:
- You do not re-apply by filing a tax return by April 30 of each year or you do not submit an application form when asked to do so.
- Your income, or the total income for you and your spouse or common-law partner, is more than the maximum amount allowed.
- You leave Canada for more than six months in a row (see Can I receive my Allowance outside Canada?).
- You die. If your spouse or common-law partner is receiving the GIS or the Allowance, payments may continue, based on his or her income.
Filing your income tax return
15. Is my Guaranteed Income Supplement taxable?
No. Your GIS benefit is not considered taxable income. However, you must still report it on your tax return.
Appealing a decision
16. What can I do if I do not agree with a decision affecting my Guaranteed Income Supplement?
If you disagree with a decision that affects your GIS, you have the right to an explanation. If you contact us, we can explain the reasons for our decision. If you are not satisfied with our response, you can ask us to reconsider the decision. To do this, you must send a letter to the Service Canada regional director in your region within 90 days of receiving notice of our original decision. In your letter, please ensure to provide:
- your name;
- your address;
- your social insurance number; and
- your reason(s) for making the appeal.
After this reconsideration, if you are still not satisfied, you can appeal the decision to the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals. If the appeal concerns income, it will be referred to the Tax Court of Canada.
Consult our fact sheet on The Old Age Security Appeals Process for more information.
Protecting information about you
17. How is information about me protected?
Your information is protected by two acts.
The Old Age Security Act and Regulations ensure that only specific agencies authorized by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development are entitled to review relevant parts of your records. Personal information in your file cannot be given to other agencies or individuals without your consent.
The Access to Information Act also prevents the release of information about you without your consent. However, there are two exceptions: information can be released if it has already been made public or if the release is allowed under the Privacy Act. The government can only use information for the purpose for which it was collected, except to comply with a warrant or subpoena, or to enforce a law.
18. Can I find out what information is in my file?
You have the right to review information about you that is kept on file by the Government of Canada. To help citizens get access to information about themselves, the Government has published Info Source: Sources of federal government information. To make a request, you must complete an Access to information request form. This form and Info Source are available in any Service Canada Center and government offices open to the public. They are also available at public libraries, most rural post offices and in Canadian missions abroad.
19. Am I eligible for other benefits?
In addition to the basic OAS pension,seniors with low incomes may qualify for other income-tested benefits such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the Allowance, which includes the Allowance for the Survivor. For more information, please contact us.
If you have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan, you may be eligible for a retirement pension when you turn 65. You could qualify for a reduced CPP or QPP retirement pension as early as age 60.
Disability and survivor benefits are also available from the Canada Pension Plan or the Quebec Pension Plan if you have made sufficient contributions and you meet other eligibility requirements. You must apply to receive these benefits.
For more information about the Canada Pension Plan, contact us.
For more information about the Quebec Pension Plan, contact La Régie des rentes du Québec:
PO Box 5200
Québec QC G1K 7S9
On the Web Régie des rentes du Québec
20. Other benefit programs for veterans
If you are a veteran, you may also be entitled to receive benefits under other federal programs such as the War Veterans Allowance program. For more information, call Veterans Affairs Canada toll-free at 1‑866‑522‑2122, or visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site.
21. Provincial/territorial and municipal programs
Your provincial/territorial and municipal governments may offer income assistance and services to seniors. For more information, please contact these governments directly.
Additional information on federal, provincial and territorial programs for seniors is also available on the Seniors Canada Web site.
22. Online services and forms
At Service Canada, we provide a number of services on the Internet to allow you to complete tasks online at your convenience. We also provide you with access to online forms for programs and services delivered by Service Canada and our partner departments.
To access an online service or find a form, see Online Services and Forms.
23. How do I request a review of my Old Age Security account to ensure I am receiving my full benefit entitlement?
The Government of Canada wants to ensure that you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled. We take great care in reviewing applications so that the payments we make to you are accurate. We also routinely check client accounts to ensure continued accuracy.
If you think that we may have made a mistake on your account, or that you may not have applied for a benefit to which you are entitled, please contact us. We will be glad to review your file either by mail, or over the phone with you. If you send us a request by mail, please be sure to include your name, mailing address, telephone number, and your social insurance number.
This service is provided free of charge.
For more information about the Old Age Security Program and the Canada Pension Plan, please contact us.
Please have your social insurance number on hand when you call.
Note: This Web page provides an overview of the Guaranteed Income Supplement. It is intended to give a general description of how the program works, who is eligible and how benefits are determined. It is not possible, in this space, to provide a comprehensive description of all the details of the complex legislation governing this program. In case of disputes, the wording and provisions of the Old Age Security Act and Regulations prevail.
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