What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a non-taxable monthly payment provided to low-income Old Age Security (OAS) pensioners. Just like the OAS, GIS benefits are not tied to employment so you can still collect them if you’re still working or have never been employed. You don’t need to contribute to this program as it’s funded by the government’s general revenues.

Other benefits related to the GIS

You or your partner may qualify for other benefits if you’re eligible for the GIS.

Allowance

Your spouse or common-law partner can receive the Allowance if they:

  • are aged 60 to 64 
  • are a Canadian citizen or legal resident
  • reside in Canada and have lived in Canada for at least ten years since the age of 18
  • have a yearly income that’s less than the maximum annual threshold

Allowance for the Survivor

You may be entitled to the Allowance for the Survivor if:

  • you are aged 60 to 64
  • your spouse or common-law partner has died and you have not remarried or entered into a common-law relationship
  • you have a yearly income that’s less than the maximum annual threshold

See current maximum monthly payments for both benefits here.

How does the GIS work with Old Age Security?

The GIS is a supplement to OAS that’s intended for low-income seniors. As a result, you need to qualify for OAS first before you can get the GIS.

How does the GIS work with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP)?

GIS payments are different for everyone and your personal amount will depend on your income level. What’s counted as income goes beyond employment earnings. The government considers CPP benefits as income, which means you must report any CPP amounts when applying for the GIS.

How much can I get from the GIS?

GIS payments are calculated using your income and marital status. From July to September 2020, the maximum monthly payment is $916.38 if you’re single, widowed, or divorced. The maximum monthly amount is different if you have a spouse or common-law partner.

Situation

Maximum monthly payment 

(July to September 2020)

Your spouse/common-law partner receives the full OAS pension →

$551.63

Your spouse/common-law partner does not receive an OAS pension →

$916.38

Your spouse/common-law partner receives the Allowance →

$551.63

The GIS is reviewed quarterly in January, April, July, and October, and amounts may fluctuate throughout the year to reflect increases in the cost of living based on the Consumer Price Index. Monthly payment amounts don’t decrease if the cost of living goes down.

When is the GIS paid in 2020?

Your first payment will arrive the month after you turn 65. If you set up direct deposit, you’ll get your GIS payments on the following dates in 2020:

January 29

July 29

February 26

August 27

March 27

September 28

April 28

October 28

May 27

November 26

June 26

December 22

What are the maximum income levels to qualify for the GIS?

To qualify for the GIS, your income must be below $18,600 if you’re single, widowed, or divorced. 

If you have a spouse or common-law partner, your combined income has to be below:

  • $24,576 if your partner receives the full OAS pension
  • $44,592 if your partner does not receive an OAS pension
  • $44,592 if your partner receives the Allowance

You’ll need to determine your income and deductions before applying for the GIS.

Sources of income include:

  • CPP or Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits
  • Other pension income (i.e. private pensions, superannuation, and foreign pension income)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) that you cashed during the year
  • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Interest and other investment income
  • Capital gains and taxable Canadian dividends
  • Net income from any rental properties
  • Net employment or self-employment income
  • Other income from sources (i.e. workers' compensation payments and alimony)

The following payments, contributions, and deductions are not counted as income:

  • Payments from OAS, GIS, Allowance, or Allowance for the Survivor
  • CPP or QPP contributions and your EI premiums
  • CPP or QPP contributions and your EI premiums of net self-employment income
  • Deductions like union dues, RRSP deduction, moving expenses, and other employment expenses

You can also earn up to $5,000 and still receive the full benefit amount if you’re employed or self-employed. 

When earnings fall between $5,000 and $15,000, your GIS payment will be reduced by 50 cents for every dollar of income you make.

What are the other eligibility requirements for the GIS?

In addition to the income requirements, you must also be 65 or older, live in Canada, and collect the OAS pension to get the GIS. 

You may still be eligible for the GIS if you moved to Canada. Eligibility depends on how long you’ve lived in Canada and whether or not you are a sponsored immigrant (see full details here). 

How do I apply for the GIS?

In most cases, Service Canada will automatically enroll you for the GIS. You should get a letter the month after you turn 64 stating when you can start collecting the benefit. Contact Service Canada if your letter never arrives.

Sometimes the government doesn’t have enough information about you to enroll you automatically. 

You’ll have to apply if you:

  • are already collecting the OAS but never received the GIS
  • get a letter with incorrect information or instructions to apply

Applications are done online. You can also submit a paper application using Form ISP-3550 (OAS and GIS) and Form ISP-3023 (GIS only).

Before you start, make sure you have the following information:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • information about your spouse or common-law partner (if applicable)
  • information about the countries you lived in since age 18
  • your bank details so you can sign up for direct deposit
  • the date you would like your GIS payments to begin
  • your reduction in employment or pension income (if applicable)

Once you start collecting the GIS, remember to file your taxes by the deadline every year to prevent payment disruptions. 

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