Old Age Security

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Old Age Security Section

  1. Will the Old Age Security pension be there for me?
  2. The Old Age Security program is sometimes referred to as the cornerstone of Canada's retirement income system. Why?
  3. How is my Old Age Security pension different from my CPP retirement pension?
  4. What if my income is low?
  5. What happens if I lived or worked outside Canada?
  6. Do I have to apply to start receiving my Old Age Security pension or CPP retirement pension?
  7. Will my OAS pension be reduced if my income is high?
  8. Is my Old Age Security taxable?
  9. Is an OAS pension indexed to an increase in prices?

1) Will the Old Age Security pension be there for me?

Yes. You can count on the Old Age Security pension to be there for you. Old Age Security costs will grow as the population ages in the coming decades. However, these cost increases are projected to be affordable.

2) The Old Age Security program is sometimes referred to as the cornerstone of Canada's retirement income system. Why?

The Old Age Security pension is the largest single source of income for Canadian seniors. In 1997, fully 29 percent of the income of Canadian seniors came from OAS (including the Guaranteed Income Supplement). A further 21 percent of seniors' income came from the CPP/QPP. Together, these programs provide 50 percent of the income of Canada's seniors.

3) How is my Old Age Security pension different from my CPP retirement pension?

You become entitled to an Old Age Security pension by living in Canada for at least 10 years after the age of 18. The basic Old Age Security pension starts at the age of 65. Old Age Security pensions are paid from the general revenues of the Government of Canada.

To be entitled to a CPP retirement pension, you must have worked and made contributions to the CPP. Both you and your employer make equal contributions. If you are self-employed, you pay both portions. The CPP retirement pension can start as early as 60 or as late as 70.

You must apply for all OAS and CPP benefits.

4) What if my income is low?

If you are receiving the basic Old Age Security pension, you may also be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement if your income is low.

Spouses and common-law partners of OAS pensioners who are receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement may receive the Allowance between the ages of 60 and 64. Similarly, survivors in this age group who have low incomes may also receive the Allowance. To qualify a person must have at least 10 years of residence in Canada after the age of 18.

You must apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement or the Allowance.

5) What happens if I lived or worked outside Canada?

Absence from Canada

Canadians working outside Canada for Canadian employers may have their time working abroad counted as residence in Canada. To qualify, you must have returned to Canada within six months of ending employment or have turned 65 while still employed outside Canada. Under certain conditions, this provision may also apply to spouses, common-law partners, dependants, students and Canadians working abroad for international organizations.

Social security agreements with other countries

Canada has agreements with many countries that can help you get social security benefits from either country. If you did not live or work long enough in one country to qualify for benefits there, the time you spent in that country may still be considered when determining your eligibility to receive benefits from either country.

If you lived or worked in another country, call 1 613 957-1954, or visit our website.

6) Do I have to apply to start receiving my Old Age Security pension or CPP retirement pension?

Yes. Neither your OAS pension nor your CPP retirement pensions start automatically. You must apply for all OAS and CPP benefits.

7) Will my OAS pension be reduced if my income is high?

Yes, depending on your income.

The basic OAS pension is reduced by 15 cents for every dollar of net individual income above a specified limit that is adjusted annually for inflation. In 2014, the limit is $71,592.

Most seniors receive the full OAS pension. In fact, only 2% of seniors lose the entire amount. This reduction does not apply to CPP benefits.

8) Is my Old Age Security taxable?

Yes. The basic OAS pension is taxable and must be reported as income on your tax return.

The Guaranteed Income Supplement and Allowance are not taxable but must be reported on your tax return.

If your net individual income exceeds $71,592 per year (as of 2014), your basic OAS pension will be reduced. This limit is adjusted annually for inflation.

9) Is an OAS pension indexed to an increase in prices?

Yes. All OAS benefits are adjusted every three months to reflect increases in the Consumer Price Index.