Canadian Old Age Security (OAS) & Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

10562935_sEach year when preparing personal tax returns, I seem to be completing more applications for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).  The GIS provides money to low-income seniors, living in Canada, in addition to their Old Age Security Pension.  Now whether this is because my client base is becoming older and/or the need is now greater is really irrelevant.  The point is that there are a lot of seniors living on the poverty line and these funds are necessary for their day to day living.

What is Old Age Security?

OAS is a pension paid monthly and available to most Canadians.  You may receive this pension whether you are still working or have never worked. An application must be completed to receive these benefits.

To be eligible you must be living in Canada and;

  • 65 years of age or older
  • You must have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after turning 18
  • Be a Canadian citizen or legal resident at the time your pension application is approved


If you live outside Canada, you still may qualify if you meet the following requirements:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • You must have lived in Canada for at least 20 years after turning 18
  • Been a Canadian citizen or legal resident of Canada the day before you left Canada

If neither of the above scenarios apply, there is still the possibility of receiving OAS if a social security agreement is in place with the country pertaining to your history.

You should apply for your OAS pension 6 months before you turn 65.  To get an application form you can go to a Service Canada Centre or print one from the website by  clicking here.


For more information concerning calculation of pension benefits, payments, income tax implications and numerous other topics, go to Service Canada website for answers to these and other OAS questions. You will find the link by clicking here.


What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?


The GIS is a benefit that you may be eligible to receive, only if you are currently receiving the OAS pension.  You must complete an application form to initially apply.  To reapply, you need to continue to file your personal income tax returns by April 30.  To receive an application form call 1.800.277.9914 (TTY: 1.800.255.4786)

If you did not qualify for a GIS benefit in the past, but you think you might be eligible now, you should apply as soon as possible.  There is no cost involved to apply.

The amount you could receive is based on your age, marital status and income from the previous year.  Service Canada has a great website that helps you determine, based on income, what monthly OAS and GIS payments you may be eligible to receive. Here are the tables of rates.

There is also an Allowance for those aged 60 – 64 with details and rates included on the website.

From the CRA website, is a list of what is considered income and determining eligibility for the GIS and Allowance.

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.

For more information on getting the greatest tax credits, deductions, pension splitting and other topics of interest go to the government website for Seniors. You will find the link here.

It’s important that we take care of Canada’s valuable assets.

Education is the best provision for the journey to old age. – Aristotle

I love getting feedback here on the blog. Please feel free to comment or ask for more information!

Until next time,


21 thoughts on “Canadian Old Age Security (OAS) & Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

  1. Hello Maureen
    I’m having a difficult time knowing what I qualify for. I receive OAS and CPP as well as a disability pension from when I was injured in the armed forces . My wife has conditions that leave her unable to work trouble with her back. She had a knee replacement last year and still needs a hip replacement.and the other knee as well. She just came from an appointment with a specialist and was told that she may lose mobility within two (2) years. She is 59 years old and wont be able to receive a pension for 6 more years..I had my left knee replaced 5 years ago and got infection in the knee leaving me unable to work for 3.5 years finally they got that fixed and they replaced the other knee last year. Now what I would like to know is there any supplements out there that we may qualify for, Guaranteed income, Disability tax credit , disability refunds. my wife has not been able to work for at least 15 years + I am 70 years old and now in good health but we are having trouble making ends meet. Please e-mail me and let us know what we can do .

    • Hi Robert

      Both of you may be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). You would each need to have your doctor complete a T2201 form and submit it to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for approval. Depending on the time you became eligible, and if you paid Federal Tax during that period, you may qualify for a refund. You may also be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) since you’re already receiving OAS. One of the determining factors is your combined income. Start the process to determine if you qualify for the GIS as soon as possible since it takes about 3 months for it to be included in your OAS monthly income. And don’t forget the Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit. The purpose of it is to improve safety and accessibility in your home. Here is a link for you to determine if appropriate.

  2. Hi. We have decided not to pull money from our rrsps this year as it is depleting. Is there any supplements available for reduction in income. Our family income will be around 12k total . What forms are required? thks

  3. I turned 65 last Oct. & need to apply for the income supplement. Do I have to wait till my income tax is done to apply for 2013? At present I am receiving only about $900 a month & an incurring debts because I can’t keep up with payments.

  4. Hello —- I made an application for the old age pension supplement on
    May 7th 2014 , and have not heard anything yet . Is it too soon? or is there
    some office i can call ?
    Thank you in advance… /EDH

    • Hi Emery
      It can sometimes take up to 6 months before you receive your first OAS payment. It won’t do any harm to contact them to check on the status of your application, especially if you sent it by mail. Documentation frequently goes missing when mailed to their offices.

  5. I am a senior getting CPP and OAS. Since our family income dropped in 2013, I applied for GIS and allowance for my spouse who is 62 years old.
    I submitted the application form and attachments to the Service Canada at AJAX location on June 13th 2014.

    So far I have not received any reply from Service Canada or Revenue Canada.

    What is the next step?


    • One of the problems could be due to the Service Canada location you left it at. Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) applications for Ontario are processed through the offices in Scarborough and Timmins. Contact this number to see if they can determine the status of your application; 1-800-277-9914. If not they should be able to give a number to contact specific to your needs.

  6. What is the maximum amount of retroactivity for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. I am helping another elderly and wonder if I should apply for 2014 – 2015 only or go back one or two more years, if applicable.

  7. Hi, I have a problem with Service Canada’s process for qualifying for the GIS. Last yr, May 2014, I turned 65. I had sent all of the required OAS/GIS application forms required. to Service Canada along with all documentation including copies of my wife and my own income tax returns/statements for the year 2013. I understood that as long as my wife and I filed our income tax each year I would not have to reapply for the GIS. No so. I received my first OAS and GIS the end of June 2014. Then mid July 2014 Service Canada sent me a letter telling me I no longer was qualifed to receive the GIS. No explanation as to why. I called Service Canada and was told that since my wife is under 60 yrs of age, 51 last yr, that I would have to reapply for my GIS every year and that I would receive a letter mid July informing me of the decision. After several phone calls to Service Canada I was told that since I was the OAS recipient that they did not have authorization to access my wife’s income tax at CRA. I printed the form that was on the web site and filled it out. I hand delivered it to the local Service Canada office with copies of all the required documentation. I was told it would take two to three months to process. WHAT! The GIS is almost half of my pensions income. I have financial obligations that have to be paid at the end of or start of each month. Not receiving my GIS for two to three months would leave me and my wife in a financial cisis. My wife is disabled and has no income aside from Special Needs and support from Community Services. I called my local Federal MP’s office and explained the situation. The Fed MP’s office contacted Service Canada on my behalf. I rec’d a phone call within a few days. My wife gave permission/authorization over the phone to the Service Canada rep to access her CRA income tax files. My application was processed within two weeks and I received the GIS mid August that I should have rec’s at the end of July. Now, this year, 2015. I and my wife have filed our income tax with CRA. I contacted Service Canada rep who told me there was nothing he or they could do to change the process. He told me that I would have to reapply again after I rec’d a letter mid July. I asked if I could use the form on the web site for the taxation year 2013. He told me no I couldn’t. That I would have to wait to receive an application form or wait until the updated form is posted on the web site. This process is unacceptable. Just because my wife is under 60 yrs of age I have to reapply every year for my GIS after receiving a disqualification letter mid July. The wait two to three months for the approval process. I understood that I would only have to apply once and so long as my wife and I filed our income tax returns with CRA that info would be used to requalify me for the GIS. No where in the info given by Service Canada is there any reference to having to reapply for the GIS if your spouse is under 60 yrs of age. The only statement is that a letter will be sent mid July informing me if I qualify or am disqulified to receive the GIS and then I will have to reapply every year. Has anyone else encountered this scenario in regards to the GIS and Service Canada? The process cause both of us undue stress and anxiety wondering how we will pay our bills and expenses while Service Canada processes my reapplication every yr for the GIS. My wife and I both have health problems. This fiasco with Service Canada’s process of having to reapply for my GIS has caused both of us stress and anxiety. Please post and let me/us know if anyone else has or is having this problem with Service Canada.

    • Hello Byron
      I empathize with your situation. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) does not post all of the rules and guidelines that would help many people avoid the type of stress and anxiety you are experiencing. Since there are so many variables in situations similar to yours it becomes a year after year process. Since the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is based on household income they may feel that based on your wife’s age her income might increase and make you ineligible for GIS. Like you I would like to hear from others that may be in a similar situation and if they are also having to apply annually.

  8. Hello.Assuming I am eligible , can I collect the GIS if I live in a Country that has a Social Security agreement with Canada?

    .( I can collect OAS, and CCP in South Korea, but the rule for GIS is that I must be a resident of Canada for the GIS) Would the social security agreement trump this rule?

    • Hello William
      No you would not be entitled to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) since you are not a resident of Canada, under any agreement or treaty.

  9. I just turned 65 this past May and received my first OAS payment in June, 2015. My husband is two years older than me and just received a lump sum GIS retroactive payment for the taxation year 2013 (when he retired). As of now, we do not know if we will receive any GIS payments for the 2014 taxation year. From what I can gather, we will receive a letter from Service Canada telling us if we qualify or not.

    My question is … should I also apply for the GIS or because my husband is receiving it, is it either one or the other–not both?? I’ve read articles where it states both spouses are receiving GIS so I’m a bit confused at this point. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Hi Brenda
      Since your husband is receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) then there is no need to re-apply. Once the CRA has processed your 2014 tax returns they will notify you regarding any changes. If the only change to your income for 2015 is you receiving Old Age Security (OAS) that shouldn’t affect your eligibility. OAS is not considered income for GIS purposes. But if you’re still concerned then I would suggest calling them. 1.800.277.9914

  10. My mother is 80 years old. She applied for GIS Dec 2014 and got approved. But in July 2015, she just got a letter saying that she is not qualified to it. She was told to fill in the GIS renewal form. My father had only been in Canada for about 3 weeks within the past 24 years but we always file income tax for him With him not in the country for the past 18 months, how is this going to affect my mom’s renewal application? If I update my mom’s martial status to separated instead of married, will her GIS get a higher chance of being approved.?

    • Hi Cynthia

      It’s difficult to give you an answer without knowing all the facts. When you mother was approved in December 2014 for the Guarantee Income Supplement (GIS) it would have been based on her, or her and your father’s taxable income for 2013. When she filed her 2014 return CRA determined she was no longer eligible, and notified in June 2015. Now whether that is due to her income or their combined income I don’t know. Why are you filing a tax return for your father? Are you claiming he’s a resident at December 31st of each year? I’m sure you know the point I’m trying to make and these are rhetorical questions.


  11. All the people recently turning 65, are very thankful to you, Muareen for this valuable information. I am turning 65 years and will be elligble for OAS and GIS. My wife is turning 59. I am an ODSP recipient and my wife is my benefit unit. At present, we are receiving $ 1834/ month with no other income of any type. My ODS + GIS would amount to $ 1330.80/ month. I want to know if ODSP will continue to pay us the balance of about $ 500/month? My wife can’t work and have applied for ODSP last week. We will be thankful to you madam/sir for your reply.

    • Hello, and thank you for the kind words. ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) is a program that helps those that have a disability with financial support for living expenses. They also offer other support but I’m just addressing your question at this time. With your additional income when you turn 65 your Caseworker may determine that you don’t require the approximate $500 that you have been receiving. So there are no surprises for you and your wife I suggest that you contact your Caseworker to discuss your financial concerns and what you may expect going forward.
      Best of luck, Maureen.

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