Old Age Security Pension (OAS)
Table of Contents
About the Old Age Security pension
What is the Old Age Security pension?
The Old Age Security pension is a monthly payment available to most Canadians aged 65 or older. You must apply to receive benefits. If you meet the eligibility requirements explained below, you may be entitled to receive the Old Age Security pension even if you are still working or have never worked.
Am I eligible?
We look at three factors to determine if you can receive the Old Age Security pension: your age, your legal status, and the number of years you have lived in Canada.
If one of the two scenarios listed below describes your situation, you may be eligible to receive the Old Age Security pension.
Scenario 1 - People living in Canada
- You must be 65 years of age or older.
- You must live in Canada and be a Canadian citizen or a legal resident at the time we approve your pension application.
- You must have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after turning 18.
Scenario 2 - People living outside Canada
- You must be 65 years of age or older.
- You must have been a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada the day before you left Canada.
- You must have lived in Canada for at least 20 years after turning 18.
If you are not covered by either of these two scenarios, you may still qualify for a pension since Canada has social security agreements with many countries. If you have lived in one of these countries or contributed to its social security system, you may qualify for a pension from that country, from Canada or from both countries. For more information, contact us or see International Benefits.
Beneficiaries incarcerated as a result of a sentence of two years or longer in federal penitentiaries or a sentence of 90 days or longer in provincial or territorial correctional facilities may not receive OAS benefits while incarcerated. For more information, see Old Age Security benefits for Incarcerated Individuals and Their Family.
Applying for the Old Age Security pension
When should I apply?
You should apply for the Old Age Security pension six months before you turn 65, or when you receive an Old Age Security Application form. Normally, you must apply on your own behalf. If you are applying for someone else, please contact us for more information.
How do I apply?
The kit contains detailed instructions to help you apply for the Old Age Security pension, including where to send the completed and signed application form.
What documents will I need to provide?
If you were not born in Canada or if you have not lived continuously in Canada since age 18, you must submit proof of legal status in Canada such as citizenship or immigration papers. Also, you must submit a statement of all the dates you arrived in Canada and departed Canada from age 18 to present. You may be asked to provide documents to substantiate this.
We check the information we have for you in the Social Insurance Register. If your name or date of birth does not match these records, we will ask you to send us your birth certificate.
How your benefits are calculated
How is my Old Age Security pension calculated?
The Old Age Security pension is like a large "pie" that is divided into 40 equal portions. If you qualify for the "full pension," you are entitled to receive all 40 portions of the pie each month. If you qualify for a "partial pension", you will receive some, but not all, of the 40 portions each month. Whether you qualify for a full or partial pension will depend on how long you've lived in Canada after the age of 18. See below for more details.
Usually, if you meet all of the conditions outlined in one of the two categories below, you may qualify for a full pension:
Category 1 -
- You lived in Canada for at least 40 years after turning 18.
Category 2 -
You reached the age of 25 on or before July 1, 1977, and at that time:
- you lived in Canada, or;
- you did not live in Canada but you had some residence in Canada after the age of 18, or;
- you were in possession of a valid Canadian Immigration Visa; and
- you lived in Canada for the 10 years immediately before the approval of your OAS application.
If you did not live in Canada continuously for the 10 years immediately before the approval of your application, you may still qualify for a full pension if you meet both conditions below:
- you lived in Canada for the entire year immediately before the approval of your application; and
- you lived in Canada (since age 18) for at least 3 years for every 1 year of absence from Canada during these last 10 years.
If you don't qualify for the full Old Age Security pension, you may qualify for a partial pension.
How much is a partial pension?
A partial pension is calculated at the rate of 1/40th of the full pension for each complete year of residence in Canada since age 18.
The minimum period you need to qualify for a partial pension is 10 years of residence in Canada after reaching age 18 (as long as you live in Canada when you receive your OAS pension). In other words, if you lived in Canada for 10 years after your 18th birthday, you may qualify to receive 10/40ths or one-quarter of the full Old Age Security pension.
Once a partial pension is approved, we can never increase the number of years of residency on which your pension is based. You will however, qualify for any cost-of-living increases.
Receiving your Old Age Security pension
When will I begin receiving my Old Age Security pension?
You must apply to receive your OAS pension. Your pension payments will begin during one of the following months, whichever is latest:
- the month after you meet the residence and legal status requirements;
- the month after your 65th birthday; or
- the month during which you ask to have the payments start.
If you apply after you turn 65, you can receive a retroactive payment back to your 65th birthday up to a maximum of 11 months, plus a payment for the month in which we received your application. In other words, if you apply at any time after your 66th birthday, you will receive a back payment worth up to a total of 12 months of pension benefits.
When do payments arrive?
Your pension payments usually arrive during the last three banking days of each month. You can consult the exact payment dates on this Web site. If your payment is more than a week late, or if you lose your payment cheque, please contact us.
Can you send the payment to my bank?
Yes. Through our direct deposit service, your pension payment is deposited automatically into your bank account. Direct deposit is also available in a number of countries, including the United States. 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 telephone, in person, or by mail.
What happens if I move?
If you are planning to move, you need to contact us to tell us 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 we deposit your payments directly into your bank account, we still need to know your new address so we can send you information and your yearly T4-OAS tax information slip (or NR4-OAS tax information slip, if you are a non-resident of Canada).
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.
Can I receive my pension outside Canada?
Yes. Usually, we can send you your pension payment outside the country if:
- you lived in Canada for at least 20 years since age 18; or
- you lived or worked in a country that has a social security agreement with Canada and you meet the 20-year residence requirement under the provisions of that agreement
If you do not meet either of the above requirements, we can only send your payments outside Canada for the month that you leave, and for six months after that. For example, if you leave Canada in January, we would send payments until the end of July. After July, the payments would stop. If you plan to be absent from Canada for more than six months, you must contact us well before you leave. You should also contact us when you return to live in Canada, so that we can restart your pension payments from the month of your return.
Whether you are living in Canada or abroad, all payments are calculated in Canadian dollars. If you are living abroad, most recipients will receive their benefit payment in the local currency of their country of residence.
Please contact us for additional information.
Will I get cost-of-living increases?
Yes. We will increase your pension 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 Old Age Security pension payment will not go down if the cost of living goes down.
Consult the Old Age Security Payment Rates for current rate information.
Will my pension ever stop?
Yes. Your pension will stop:
- if you did not live in Canada for at least 20 years after you turned 18 and if you are out of the country for more than six months after the month of your departure;
- if you make a request to have your pension stopped; or
- when you die (it is important that someone notify us).
Filing your income tax return
Is my Old Age Security pension taxable and is there a maximum amount of income I can earn and still receive OAS?
Like most other retirement income, your basic Old Age Security pension is taxable income. Pensioners who earn individual net income of $66,335 or more as of 2009 (including the Old Age Security pension) have to repay part of their pension benefits (see our Web page about The Repayment of Old Age Security Pension Benefits). These repayments are normally deducted each month from your pension payment. Each year we adjust the maximum income amount to account for inflation.
If you are a non-resident of Canada for income tax purposes, your Old Age Security pension may be subject to non-resident tax up to a maximum of 25% of the gross benefit amount. The tax rate depends on the country where you live.
See our Web page about the Old Age Security Recovery Tax.
How do I pay the income tax on my pension?
If you live in Canada, please contact the Canada Revenue Agency concerning how you can pay the income tax on your pension.
If you live outside Canada or if you have a tax-related question, call your Canada Revenue Agency tax services office at 1-800-959-8281. If you have a hearing or speech impairment and use a teletypewriter (TTY), call 1-800-665-0354.
For international tax services (including your non-resident tax), call the Canada Revenue Agency International Tax Services Office at:
From Canada and the United States:
- 1-800-665-0354 (TTY)
From all other countries:
- 613-952-3741 (collect calls accepted)
Or write to:
International Tax Services Office
Canada Revenue Agency
2204 Walkley Road
Ottawa ON K1A 1A8
How do I include pension information in my tax return?
Each January, you will receive a T4-OAS tax information slip (or an NR4-OAS tax information slip if you are a non-resident of Canada), showing the amount of Old Age Security pension you received during the previous year. This amount reflects your monthly pension amount, any back payments and any tax that has been deducted. You should use the information on your T4-OAS or NR4-OAS tax slip to help calculate your income tax and you will need to submit the slip with your income tax return.
Get your T4-OAS and NR4-OAS tax information slips online
You can use the Tax Information slips online service to:
- view your OAS and CPP tax information slips on the Internet and print them for your income tax return; and
- notify us online if you wish to stop receiving your OAS and CPP tax information slips by mail.
Appealing a decision
What can I do if I do not agree with a decision affecting my Old Age Security pension?
If you disagree with a decision that affects your pension, you have the right to an explanation. If you contact us, we will 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.
If you are still dissatisfied after this reconsideration, you can appeal the decision. If you would like to know more about the appeal process, consult our fact sheet on the Old Age Security Appeals Process or contact us.
Protecting information about you
How is information about me protected?
Your privacy 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 Canada 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.
Can I have access to information on 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 information request form. These forms 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.
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. If you have retired or substantially reduced your hours of work, 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:
- By phone
- By mail
- PO Box 5200
Québec QC G1K 7S9
- On the Web
- Régie des rentes du Québec
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.
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.
On-line 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.
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.
Have your social insurance number on hand when you call.
Note: This Web page provides an overview of the Old Age Security pension. 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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