Newsletter – May 2013
Federal Government Pensions & Benefits
May 2013 Newsletter for Seniors on Vancouver Island
Seniors 101’s February 2011 newsletter highlighted the fact that 100,000’s seniors in Canada are not receiving benefits from the Federal government that they are entitled to.
Last month I was very fortunate to attend a presentation given by Tzena Russell, Citizen Services Specialist – (Citizen Services and Program Delivery Service Canada Vancouver Island/Central Coast), on the benefits that are available to seniors. Tzena gave a delightful presentation; she didn’t use two words if one would do, and blended it with a good sense of humour. The outline included not only the requirements to qualify for particular federal programs but also a very simple way to check whether you are entitled to any of them. Whilst trying to obtain information from a government web site is usually akin to chasing a wisp of smoke, in a fog, at night the links Tzena gave us were incredibly simple to use.
The following is an outline of that presentation. Please, please use it, not only for yourself, as you obviously have a computer, but help others including family, friends and people in your neighbourhood who may not have a computer or friends to help them. Be sure to use the “benefits Finder” link in section #11.
Federal Government Pensions & Benefits
1. How do I find a Service Canada Centre and what number to I call to ask questions related to pensions?
- Find an office: Where
- For pensions call 1-800-277-9914
2. What are the eligibility criteria for the Old Age Security (OAS) Pension?
- 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. Old Age Security Pension
3. There are several supplements under the OAS program. What are they and how do they work?
- The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) 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. GIS
- The Allowance (ALW) provides money for low-income seniors who meet the following conditions: your spouse or common-law partner (same sex or opposite sex) receives or is entitled to receive the Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement; you are 60 to 64 years of age; you are a Canadian citizen or a legal resident at the time your Allowance is approved or when you last lived in Canada; and you have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after turning 18. ALW
- The Allowance for the Survivor (ALWS) provides money for low-income seniors who meet the following conditions: you are 60 to 64 years of age; you are a Canadian citizen or a legal resident at the time your Allowance for the Survivor is approved or when you last lived in Canada; your annual income is below the prescribed limit; your spouse or common-law partner has died and you have not remarried or entered into a common-law partnership exceeding 12 months since then; and you have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after turning 18. ALWS
4. In Budget 2012 we first heard about changes to the Old Age Security Pension – what are they? Changes to Old Age Security
- The Government of Canada has introduced measures to gradually increase the age of eligibility for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) between the years 2023 and 2029, from 65 to 67. People currently receiving OAS benefits will not be affected by the changes. The Government of Canada also introduced measures to gradually increase the ages at which the Allowance and the Allowance for the Survivor are provided, from 60-64 today to 62-66.
- The Government of Canada also introduced a voluntary deferral of the Old Age Security (OAS) pension that will give people the option to defer take-up of their OAS pension by up to five years past the age of eligibility, and subsequently receive a higher, actuarially adjusted pension.
- To improve services for seniors, the Government of Canada will start a proactive enrolment process that will remove the need for many seniors to apply for the OAS pension and the GIS. This means that eligible seniors will no longer need to complete an OAS pension or GIS application.
5. What are the benefits under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)?
- The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement Pension provides a monthly taxable benefit to retired contributors. Retirement
- The Post-Retirement Benefit (PRB) is a new lifetime benefit that increases your retirement income and rises with increases in the cost of living, even if you already draw the maximum pension from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). Post-Retirement Benefit
- The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit is a monthly payment. It is available to people who contributed recently to the Canada Pension Plan while they worked, and then became unable to work at any job on a regular basis because of a disability. The primary purpose is to replace a portion of employment earnings for people who recently paid into the CPP. There are also benefits for children if at least one parent qualifies for the CPP disability benefit. A CPP disability benefit is not approved on the basis of which disability or disease you have, but on how the medical condition and its treatment affect your ability to work at any job on a regular basis. Disability Benefit
- The Canada Pension Plan death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment made to the deceased contributor’s estate. If there is no estate, the person responsible for the funeral expenses, the surviving spouse or common-law partner or the next of kin may be eligible, in that order. Death and Survivor Benefits
- The Canada Pension Plan survivor’s pension is paid to the person who, at the time of death, is the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased contributor. If you are a separated legal spouse and there is no cohabiting common-law partner, you may qualify for this benefit. Death and Survivor Benefits
- The Canada Pension Plan children’s benefit is paid to a dependent natural or adopted child of the deceased contributor or a child in the care and control of the deceased contributor at the time of death. The child must be either under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university. Death and Survivor Benefits
6. We are currently in the phase in period of recent changes to the CPP. Can you list and briefly describe what these changes are? Changes to the Canada Pension Plan
- Your monthly CPP retirement pension amount will increase by a larger percentage if you take it after age 65.
- Your monthly CPP retirement pension amount will decrease by a larger percentage if you take it before age 65.
- If you are under 65 and you work while receiving your CPP retirement pension, you and your employer will have to make CPP contributions. These contributions will increase your CPP retirement benefits.
- If you are age 65 to 70 and you work while receiving your CPP retirement pension, you can choose to make CPP contributions. These contributions will increase your CPP retirement benefits.
- The number of years of low or zero earnings that are automatically dropped from the calculation of your CPP pension will increase.
- You will be able to begin receiving your CPP retirement pension without any work interruption.
- My Service Canada Account – change your address, your telephone number, and your direct deposit information. You can view your Canada Pension Plan, and your Old Age Security benefits. You can even print your Canada Pension Plan, and Old Age Security tax slips for your tax return. You can also get an estimate of your Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits; follow your Canada Pension Plan contributions, and so much more! MSCA
8. What is Involuntary Separation and how does it impact the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)?
- 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. GIS
9. Can someone call Service Canada on your behalf?
- This form allows clients to name an authorized person under the Canada Pension Plan or the Old Age Security Act. It authorizes that person to both give and receive information to Service Canada on behalf of the client. It does not provide authority for the person to apply for benefits for you, change your payment address or request/change voluntary tax withhold. Form
10. Do you have an older OAS ID card? Why is it important to check if you do?
- Old Age Security Identification cards issued before 2008 had a person’s SIN printed on the front and should not be carried around.
11. Why would you want to check out Canada Benefits?
- Canada Benefits is a unique service that Service Canada is proud to offer you. For example whether you need help getting back to work, temporary income support or skills training, Canada Benefits can help connect you with appropriate programs and services – truly a one-stop shop. Similarly, you will find information to help you with your housing and health needs whether you are a Newcomer to Canada, a Person with a Disability, an Aboriginal Person. And there’s much much more. Benefits Finder
12. Reasons why you may want to file your income taxes on time each year, even if you do not owe any money? Should I file?
- You want to claim a refund.
- You want to claim the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB)for 2012.
- You want to apply for the GST/HST credit (including any related provincial credits). For example, you may be eligible if you turn 19 before April 2014.
- You or your spouse or common-law partner want to begin or continue receiving Canada child tax benefit payments, including related provincial or territorial benefit payments.
- You have incurred a non-capital loss (see line 236) in 2012 that you want to be able to apply in other years.
- You want to carry forward or transfer the unused part of your tuition, education, and textbook amounts (see line 323).
- You want to report income for which you could contribute to an RRSP in order to keep your RRSP deduction limit for future years up to date.
- You want to carry forward the unused investment tax credit on expenditures you incurred during the current year (see line 412).
- You receive the guaranteed income supplement or allowance benefits under the old age security program. You can usually renew your benefit simply by filing your return by April 30. If you choose not to file a return, you will have to complete a renewal form. This form is available from Service Canada.
13. Are you considering retiring outside Canada? What do you need to know?
- Most retirees choose to spend the rest of their lives in Canada, often moving out of large urban areas to smaller regional centres; others opt for semi-retirement, staying active in their profession or trade on a part-time basis. However, a significant number decide to live in another country, either permanently or for part of each year. Retirement Abroad
14. What do you need to be aware of if there has been a relationship (married, common-law or same sex) in your past that has ended? Must read information: Credit Splitting
- The Canada Pension Plan recognizes that in a legal marriage or common-law relationship, both spouses or common-law partners share in the building of their assets and entitlements. Among these are Canada Pension Plan pension credits.
- When a relationship ends, the Canada Pension Plan pension credits which the couple built up during the time they lived together can be divided equally between them. This division is called “credit splitting”.
- Credits can be split even if one spouse or common-law partner did not pay into the Canada Pension Plan.
15. Want to travel outside Canada? Is there a good site to go to which gives a list of things to take into consideration while planning and then travelling?
- From travelling to new and exciting areas, to just escaping a cold Canadian winter, travelling is a rewarding experience. The following will help you prepare for your trip: Travel
Click here to review the February 2011 newsletter and see how critical it is to circulate this information: – http://seniors101.ca/newsletter/newsletter-feb11/