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Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

1. What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement? -- The Guaranteed Income Supplement provides additional money to ‘top up’ the Old Age Security pension, for low-income seniors living in Canada. To be eligible for the GIS benefit, you must be receiving the Old Age Security pension & meet the income requirements explained below.

2. How do I get the Guaranteed Income Supplement? -- You must apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). To get an application form, contact us at 1-800-277-9914 (TTY: 1-800-255-4786). You re-qualify for GIS by filing your income tax return annually, by the deadline (April 30). (Check the Seniors section of the Canada Revenue Agency's Web site for information on filing your tax return.) If you did not qualify for the GIS benefit in the past, but you think you might be eligible now, you should apply as soon as possible. Usually, individuals must apply for the GIS benefit on their own behalf. If you are applying for someone else, please contact OAS at 1-800-277-9914 (TTY: 1-800-255-4786). for more information.

3. What documents will I need? -- The type of documents you are required to provide will depend on your marital status, the type of application you are making, and whether you are applying for the first time. The application kit will list the documents, if any, you need to provide. If you are married, you may be asked to provide a marriage certificate. If you are living with a common-law partner (same sex or opposite sex) you may be asked to complete and sign a "statutory declaration" and provide other supporting documentation.

4. Do I have to re-apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement every year? The process has been simplified. You only need to apply once for the benefit and will not need to re-apply, as long as you file an income tax return each year.

If you do not file an income tax return, or if OAS needs more information, you will receive a renewal application form in the mail. You must complete and return it as soon as you have all the necessary income information, even if you file a tax return.

The GIS benefit is based on your annual income, or the combined annual income of you and your spouse or common-law partner. A change in income could therefore result in a change in benefit. Each July, you will receive a letter that tells you the new amount of your monthly payment or the reasons why your GIS benefit has stopped.

5. How is eligibility determined for the Guaranteed Income Supplement? -- To qualify for the GIS, you must be eligible for the Old Age Security pension. Eligibility also depends on whether the combined income of you and your spouse or common-law partner, if you have one, exceeds a specific amount.

6. What if I marry or separate? -- If you marry or separate, or if your spouse or common-law partner dies, you must let us know because it may affect your benefits.

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 long term care home), you can each be considered as a single person if that will give you a higher monthly payment.

7. What is considered to be income? -- When applying for the GIS benefit, you, and in the case of a couple, you and your spouse or common-law partner, must report the following income:

  • Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan benefits
  • private pension income and superannuation
  • foreign pension income
  • RRSPs that you cashed during the year
  • Employment Insurance benefits
  • interest on any savings
  • any capital gains or dividends
  • income from any rental properties
  • any employment income minus allowable deductions including your Canada Pension Plan and/or Quebec Pension Plan contributions and your Employment Insurance premiums. Subtract the lesser of the result of the calculation or $3,500;
  • income from other sources such as workers' compensation payments, alimony, etc.

Benefits received from the Old Age Security program, including the Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowance, are not included as income. Look at the application form for more details about what to count as income.

8. What happens if there is a loss or reduction of income? -- In some situations, (stop work, have a loss or reduction of pension income, we can calculate your GIS benefit by estimating your pension and employment income for this year, instead of using last year's pension and employment income. If you or your spouse or common-law partner have a lower income this year for either of these reasons, you should contact OAS at 1-800-277-9914 (TTY: 1-800-255-4786). Your benefits may increase.

9. How and when will I receive my payments? -- If you are eligible for the GIS benefit, we will add it to your Old Age Security pension payment each month. Payments usually arrive in the last three banking days of each month. If your payment is late by more than a week, or if you lose your payment, please contact OAS at 1-800-277-9914 (TTY: 1-800-255-4786). If you apply late and are eligible to receive the GIS, we can give you a retroactive payment of up to 11 months plus the month in which we receive your application.

10. Can you send the payment to my bank? – Yes, your pension payment can be automatically deposited into your bank account. Although payment by cheque is possible, the benefits of using direct deposit include:

  • always receiving your payments on time
  • knowing that your cheques will never be lost, stolen or damaged.

You can sign up for direct deposit online, by phone, in person, by mail, or when you apply for your Guaranteed Income Supplement.

11. What happens if I move? -- If you are planning to move, you must contact OAS with your new address and postal code as soon as possible to make sure that your payment arrives on time. Even if payments are deposited directly into your bank account, we still need to know your new address so we can send you important information and your yearly income tax slip and to notify you if we need additional income information.

You can notify us of a change of address 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling our automated telephone system at 1-800-277-9914. You will be asked for your social insurance number, your new address and postal code as well as your telephone number with your area code.

12. Can I receive my GIS outside Canada? – The Guaranteed Income Supplement is designed to assist low-income pensioners living in Canada. If you leave Canada we will only pay you for the month you leave, and for six months after that; then payments will stop. You have an obligation to tell us when you plan to be outside the country for more than six months. If you do stay outside Canada for longer than six months, you can re-apply when you return to live in Canada.

13. Will I get cost-of-living increases? – Yes; payments will reflect any increases in the cost of living as measured by the consumer price index. Any necessary adjustments are made every three months; January, April, July & October. Your monthly payments will not go down if the cost of living goes down.

14. Can my benefits stop?-- Guaranteed Income Supplement stops if one of the following happens: • You do not re-apply by filing a tax return by April 30 of each year or you do not submit an application form when asked to do so.

  • Your income, or the total income for you and your spouse or common-law partner, is more than the maximum amount allowed.
  • You leave Canada for more than six months in a row
  • You die. If your spouse or common-law partner is receiving the GIS or the Allowance, payments may continue, based on his or her income.

15. Is my Guaranteed Income Supplement taxable? -- No. Your GIS benefit is not considered taxable income. However, you must still report it on your tax return.

16. What can I do if I do not agree with a decision affecting my Guaranteed Income Supplement? -- If you disagree with a decision that affects your GIS, you have the right to an explanation. If you contact us, we can explain the reasons for our decision. If you are not satisfied with our response, you can ask us to reconsider the decision. To do this, you must send a letter to the Service Canada regional director in your region within 90 days of receiving notice of our original decision. In your letter, please ensure to provide:

  • your name & address
  • your social insurance number; and
  • your reason(s) for making the appeal.

After this reconsideration, if you are still not satisfied, you can appeal the decision to the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals. If the appeal concerns income, it will be referred to the Tax Court of Canada.