What Is the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)? A Helpful Guide for Canadians
Many low-income Canadians 65 years of age and over are eligible to receive an additional Old Age Security benefit known as the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). There is also an Allowance Benefit available for qualifying spouses and common-law partners.
In this GIS overview, I’ll explain what it is, who is eligible, and how to apply. I’ll also answer some common GIS questions to help you determine if you, or a family member, qualify for the GIS.
What Is the Guaranteed Income Supplement?
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a non-taxable benefit designed to help you if you’re 65 or older, live in Canada, and have a low income. The GIS is added to your Old Age Security (OAS) pension as a monthly payment, providing additional support to meet your financial needs.
Qualifying for the GIS
To qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, you must meet the following criteria:
- You are 65 years of age or older
- You are a Canadian Resident
- You receive OAS (Old Age Security pension)
- Your income is below the maximum threshold (see below)
GIS Maximum Monthly Payment Amounts (July to September 2023*)
The Guaranteed Income Supplement is an income-tested benefit, meaning the amount you receive will depend on your income. You can estimate your monthly benefit using the CRAs OAS Benefits Calculator, but I’ve listed the maximum monthly payments below, depending on your situation.
1. Single, Widowed, or Divorced Pensioner:
Maximum monthly payment: $1,043.45.
Your income must be lower than $21,168 to receive the maximum payment.
2. Spouse/Common-Law Partner receives the full OAS pension:
Maximum monthly payment: $628.09.
Your combined annual income must be less than $27,984 to receive the maximum payment.
3. Spouse/Common-Law Partner received the Allowance:
Maximum monthly payment: $628.09
Your combined annual income must be less than $39,168.
4. Spouse/Common-Law Partner does not receive an OAS pension or Allowance:
Maximum monthly payment: $1,043.45
Your combined annual income must be less than $50,736.
* Note that Old Age Security benefits are reviewed quarterly (January, April, July, and October) to reflect the current cost of living, using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as a measurement. If the CPI goes up, the benefit will rise accordingly.
To maintain your GIS eligibility, it’s critical that you file your income tax return each year and report your income accurately, as your GIS is determined based on this information.
What Income Is Used to Calculate GIS Benefits?
In calculating GIS eligibility, the government considers your yearly income and your spouse’s or common-law partner’s income. This includes income from sources such as employment, pensions, and investments. It does not include your OAS pension, GIS payments, or any income earned from a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).
You should report all your income sources on your tax return to ensure an accurate calculation and avoid future clawbacks.
How Does the GIS Work with OAS?
While they are separate benefits, the GIS and the Old Age Security(OAS) pension work together to provide financial assistance to seniors in Canada. If you qualify for GIS, you will also receive OAS. However, not all OAS recipients will qualify for the GIS if their income is above the GIS threshold.
The OAS is a separate monthly payment you may also be eligible for if you are a Canadian citizen or legal resident aged 65 or older. To receive a full OAS payment, you must have lived in Canada for at least 40 years after turning 18. However, even if you have not lived in Canada for the required duration, you may still be eligible for a partial OAS pension. For more information, check out our overview of the OAS pension.
How Does the GIS Work with CPP?
Service Canada considers your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits when calculating your GIS eligibility and payment amounts. The more you receive from your CPP, the less you may get from the GIS. This is because GIS is designed to help low-income seniors, so if your income, including CPP, is above a certain threshold, your GIS payments might be reduced or completely eliminated.
How to Apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement
Depending on your situation, Service Canada may send you a letter to inform you that you will receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement. If they don’t have enough information to enroll you automatically, it doesn’t mean you don’t qualify, but you may need to apply.
You can apply for the GIS online through the Service Canada website or submit a paper application. Before completing your application, make sure you have the following information:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Spouse/Common Law Partner info (if applicable)
- A list of the countries where you’ve lived since age 18
- Your reduction in employment or pension income (if applicable)
- Your bank account details (for direct deposit)
- Your preferred payment start date
- You must have an active My Service Canada Account (MSCA).
- You must be 1 month or more past your 64th birthday.
- You can’t have a legal representative on your account.
You can apply directly through this link.
- Complete Form ISP-3550 if you are applying for OAS and GIS
- Complete Form ISP-3025 if you are only applying for the GIS
- You must provide certified true copies of any required documentation.
- You can mail the application to the address provided or drop it off at any Service Canada location.
Once your application is submitted and approved, you can look forward to receiving your payments. Remember, GIS benefits vary depending on your income and marital status.
GIS Payment Dates
Generally, your first payment will be processed one week after you receive your Old Age Security (OAS) pension, and payments are made monthly.
Here are the 2023 GIS payment dates to help you plan:
- April 2023
- July 2023
- October 2023
- January 2024
Please keep in mind that these dates are subject to change, and it’s always a good idea to stay updated on the latest payment schedule from the Canadian government.
There are a few things you should know about your GIS payments:
- If your income changes during the year, the amount of your GIS payment may also change. It’s important to report any changes in your income to ensure you receive the correct GIS amount.
- Your payment might be postponed unless you report changes in your situation, like new marital status or modified income, to Service Canada.
- In addition, while you’re receiving the GIS, you may not leave Canada for more than six months. Your GIS payment may be discontinued if you’re away for a more extended period.
Remember that GIS is intended to support low-income seniors, so it’s crucial to stay informed about your eligibility and update your personal information accordingly. Stay on top of your payment dates and any changes to your situation to ensure continued access to this valuable financial assistance.
The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a valuable financial assistance program designed to support low-income seniors in Canada. And while the GIS benefit is not enough to live on, it can provide some financial relief to those who need it most.
Remember that you may not be automatically enrolled and have to apply. Also, remember that GIS eligibility is based on factors like how long you’ve lived in Canada and your status as a Canadian citizen or legal resident.
Is the GIS taxable?
The GIS is non-taxable, so you won’t have to pay taxes on the amount you receive as part of your Guaranteed Income Supplement. This should make things easier when it comes to filing your income tax return.
When Do GIS payments start?
You can begin collecting monthly GIS payments the month after you turn 65. Remember that because your GIS payments are based on your income, you will be reassessed yearly to determine your payment amount and whether you still qualify.
What is the Allowance Benefit?
If you are eligible to receive the GIS, your spouse or common-law partner may qualify for an Allowance Benefit. Also, if your spouse or common-law partner has passed away, you may qualify for an Allowance For The Survivor Benefit as long as you have not remarried or entered another common-law relationship.
How are GIS retroactive payments handled?
You may receive retroactive payments if you were eligible for GIS but didn’t receive it because you didn’t apply in time. You can get these payments for up to 11 months from the month you submit your application. This also applies to any increase in GIS payments due to a change in your income or marital status.
How does the GIS clawback work?
If your income increases and you no longer qualify for the GIS or your eligibility amount has been reduced, there is a process called the GIS clawback. The government will reduce or discontinue your payments according to your new income level. You must report any changes in your income to Service Canada to avoid overpayments. If you receive overpayments, the government may require you to repay them.