The Guaranteed Income Supplement
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Canadapersonalfinancewebsite.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Nov 7, 2010
As we get older in Canada, there are many things in place to ensure that you have money after you retire. The Canada Pension Plan, which you pay into, will help pay those bills, as will Old Age Security, which is taxable. However, if you are a low-income pensioner, with very little or even no income, then you can look at supplementing the Old Age Security you receive through the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). GIS is non-taxable and the amount you receive will depend on how much you make, whether or not you are married and the age of your spouse.
Currently, the maximum you can receive through the GIS program is $597.53 per month, and this is if you have no other source of income. If you and your spouse both collect from the GIS program, then you can each receive a maximum of $392.01.
Since your annual income changes each year, and since the GIS program is based on your income, you need to renew your GIS every single year.
Most seniors can easily renew their GIS automatically by filing their income tax return by April 30. If a tax return is not filed because there is no income, then you can request a renewal application to be sent to you. Once you do this, you will receive a letter in July that explains to you the new amount of your monthly payment.
In order to qualify for the GIS, you need to be first eligible for the Old Age Security pension, meaning you need to be over 65 years of age, a Canadian citizen, and have lived in Canada for the past 10 years.
Currently, the Old Age Security Act provides a GIS earning exemption of $3,500, up from $500 in 2007. This means that a single pensioner who earns $3,500 or more, will be entitled to keep an additional $1,500 in their annual GIS benefits.
If you get married, separate from your spouse, or your spouse dies, then you must contact the GIS program to let them know about the change. If you separate due to reasons beyond your control, like your spouse is put in a nursing home, then you can both be considered a single person and that will give you a larger monthly payment.
Since the GIS program is based on income, what counts as income then? Here is a quick rundown:
- Canada Pension\Quebec Pension Plan
- Private pension income
- Foreign pension income
- RRSPs cashed during the year.
- Employment insurance
- Interest on savings
- Capital gains and dividends
- Rental property income
- Employment income
If you want to get an application for the program, you need to contact 1.800.277.9914
The GIS program can help you get a little extra money to live on each year, making being in your retirement and golden years that much easier for you. All you need to do is apply and start receiving your benefits from the government.