The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a government program designed to prevent undue hardship for Canada’s most financially vulnerable older adults. Knowing GIS eligibility requirements and how the program works can help you claim these valuable payments at the appropriate time in your life.
1. What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
The Guaranteed Income Supplement, or GIS, is a non-taxable, monthly benefit available to qualified low-income people over the age of 65 living in Canada who receive the Old Age Security pension . The supplement was introduced in 1967 as a way to provide additional benefits to older adults with lower income and who would otherwise struggle to make ends meet.
2. Who is eligible for the GIS?
The GIS is not available to everyone, and there are strict eligibility requirements. To qualify, you must:
- Be 65 or older.
- Receive the Old Age Security pension.
- Live in Canada.
- Earn less than the maximum income allowed for your age group and situation.
Note: The Allowance is a separate monthly benefit for low-income people aged 60 to 64 whose spouse or common-law partner receives or is eligible for OAS and GIS benefits. Receiving the Allowance can affect GIS eligibility and payments.)
Changes in GIS eligibility
It’s crucial to be aware that your eligibility to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement can change if:
- You get a divorce.
- Your income increases or decreases.
- A beneficiary dies.
- You and your spouse/partner begin to live apart for reasons beyond your control, such as if one of you moves to a long-term care nursing home.
- You’ll be outside of Canada for more than six months.
- You or your spouse/partner are incarcerated for two years or more.
If any of the above situations, you should contact Service Canada as soon as possible so they can reassess your GIS eligibility. If your income increases, your GIS amount will be reduced by approximately 50 cents for every dollar of other income you earn above the allowable amount. There could be additional penalties if you fail to disclose any changes in a reasonable amount of time.
» MORE: What is Canada’s minimum wage?
3. How much is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
The amount of GIS you’ll receive depends on two main things: Income (or combined income if you’re married or have a common-law partner) and your marital status.
If you are single, widowed or divorced and earn less than $20,208, the maximum GIS payment is $995.99 per month. If you are married or in a common-law relationship, it gets a little more complicated:
GIS monthly payments for couples
|Situation||Combined annual income||Maximum monthly GIS payment|
|Your partner receives the full OAS pension.||Less than $26,688||$599.53|
|Your partner does not receives an OAS pension.||Less than $48,432||$995.99
|Your partner receives the Allowance.||Less than $37,392||$599.53|
It’s important to understand that there is no standard GIS amount. Your payments could change from year to year if your income or marital status changes. That’s why it’s vital that you file your income taxes each year as the government uses that information to confirm the amount of GIS you’re eligible to receive.
If you don’t file your taxes by April 30 each year, your GIS payments could be delayed.
» MORE: What is Universal Basic Income?
4. How do I receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
Some Canadians will automatically be eligible for the GIS. If you fall into this category, the government will send you a letter after you turn 64 to alert you that you are eligible to receive the benefit once you turn 65. If you don’t receive the letter soon after turning 64, you can apply for the benefit by contacting Service Canada. If you qualify for the GIS, the amount will be added to your Old Age Security pension and you’ll receive a single payment each month.
Once you start to receive the GIS, you will receive a letter every July that explains whether or not the benefit was renewed and how much you will get. You may also receive a request to send in more information about your income sources.
What to do if there’s a problem with your GIS
If the government reassesses your eligibility for GIS and decides to stop or decrease your payments, you can request a review. After receiving a letter stating your new GIS amount, you have 90 days to request a reconsideration by filling out a special form. If you are not satisfied with the results of your initial appeal, you can then contact the Social Security Tribunal to appeal.
Government of Canada, “Guaranteed Income Supplement Benefits,” accessed July 22, 2022.
Government of Canada, “Guaranteed Income Supplement amounts – July to September 2022,” accessed July 9, 2022.
Don’t leave a company pension hanging after changing jobs. One option is to roll it over into a locked-in retirement account (LIRA) where it can continue to grow until retirement.