Dialling 2-1-1 is one of the best ways you can learn about financial support that can help improve your quality of life.
Many calls to the 211 Ontario helpline are from seniors and caregivers who want to know what type of practical help, such as income assistance, is available and how to access it.
Pensions and Other Benefits
For seniors, accessing pension income usually means dealing with a government office or sometimes filling in forms to apply for programs. If you are having trouble reaching the right person at an organization, 211’s Community Navigators can help. If you need help filling in forms, there may be a local community agency that can help with forms or in-person support to navigate to the right services.
Even if you have no income, you still need to file a personal tax return each year to ensure you receive all the tax credits and benefits you may be eligible for. Keep in mind that you must apply annually for some benefits—not all of them have automatic enrollment or renewal.
The Old Age Security (OAS) program, which provides most Canadians over 65 with a modest pension, is at the top of the list of financial support for seniors. In addition, the federal government offers the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), which can substantially improve the quality of life for low-income seniors. Partners of GIS recipients who are between 60 and 64 can apply for the GIS Allowance, while widows may be eligible for the GIS Allowance for the Survivor.
GIS recipients who live in Ontario may be entitled to the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS), a non-taxable top-up.
To learn more about income support programs, dial 2-1-1 or explore your eligibility with the Government of Canada’s Old Age Security Program Toolkit, available in interactive or printable formats.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
Another form of financial support for those who have worked outside the home is the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension. You need to be at least 65 to get the full pension, although you can take a reduced CPP retirement pension when you turn 60. You can also receive this pension as late as age 70 with a permanent increase. If you continue to work while receiving your CPP retirement pension, and are under age 70, you can continue to contribute to the CPP, which will go toward post-retirement benefits.
CPP also provides a survivor’s pension to partners of deceased contributors. As well, those who have lived or worked in another country may be entitled to benefits from abroad. CPP contributors who are under 65 but cannot work because of a disability may be eligible for the CPP Disability Benefits Program.
If you are low income and still working, you may find this session hosted by TVO helpful: The Reality of Retiring on a Low Income.
Veterans Affairs Canada provides financial support to veterans and their families, including income support. The Ontario Securities Commission has created a Military Service Hub for financial information and resources for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.
In addition to income support programs, there are also several tax credits you need to be aware of. For instance, the Disability Tax Credit is a non-refundable federal tax credit that can help reduce the amount of income tax a person with a disability or a supportive family member has to pay.
Ontario also offers GIS recipients a partial deferral of provincial land tax and education tax through its Provincial Land Tax Deferral Program for Low Income Seniors or Those With a Disability. Finally, the federal excise gasoline tax refund provides a refund for a portion of the federal excise tax on gasoline bought for use by people with a mobility impairment who cannot use public transportation.
Programs and services available vary by community and can change from season to season. Dial 2-1-1 to get up-to-date information 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Read the other blogs in our seniors’ series: