Old Age Security
The Old Age Security pension (or OAS or OAS-GIS) is a taxable monthly social security payment available to most Canadians 65 years of age or older with individual income less than $114,815. As of April 2015, the basic amount is $563.74 per month. At tax time, recipients with a 2014 income of over $71,592 must pay back a portion of their Old Age Security at a rate of 15% of net income. This is often referred to as the "OAS clawback". OAS amounts are indexed to the Canadian Consumer Price Index and are adjusted (generally, increased) four times per year.
In March 2012, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper announced in its budget that the age to qualify for OAS would be increased to 67 from 65 starting in April 2023 and phased in over six years. The changes affect seniors born in 1958 or later. However, the income amounts were not changed, thus under the Harper changes a senior aged 67 earning $71,592 or less would receive the full OAS amount of $6,764.88 per year, while a senior aged 65 or 66 would receive nothing. The CPI indexing was not changed, thus these amounts would likely increase significantly by 2023 to 2029.
A person must apply to Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and meet the eligibility criteria to receive benefits.
To receive a full OAS pension, a person must meet these conditions:
- Category 1 - Lived in Canada for at least 40 years after turning 18, OR
- Category 2 - Born on or before July 1, 1952, AND between the time the applicant turned 18 and July 1, 1977, the applicant lived in Canada for some period of time, AND the applicant lived in Canada for the 10 years immediately before the application was approved.
If an applicant has not lived in Canada for all of the last ten years because they gave up residence in Canada at some time, an applicant may still qualify for a full pension if they meets both conditions below:
- Lived in Canada for the year immediately before the application was approved, AND
- Prior to these last 10 years, the applicant lived in Canada after age 18 at least three times as long as the total of absences during the last 10 years.
If an individual does not qualify for a full pension, he/she may qualify for a partial pension if he/she meets these conditions:
- Age 65 or older, AND
- Canadian citizen or Permanent resident (Canada) currently living in Canada, AND
- Lived in Canada for the last 10 years.
Social Security Agreements
Canada has social security agreements with a number of countries. These agreements may allow a person who has lived in Canada and another country (for example, the U.S.), to count years spent in the other country to qualify for the OAS pension. Note that this is to qualify, and that only time actually spent living in Canada will be counted in determining the amount of the pension.
For low income pensioners who earn little or no other income, the Old Age Security is supplemented by a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), which is considered non-taxable income. The amount of the Guaranteed Income Supplement depends on income, marital status and the age of the spouse in married couples. As of January 2012, the maximum supplement for a single individual with no other source of income is C$732.36 per month, and C$485.61 per month to each spouse of a married couple.
Old Age Security should not be confused with the Canada Pension Plan, which is a contributory, earnings-related pension paid in addition to the OAS to those who have contributed to it.