Canada Pension Plan – Eligibility

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

2. Eligibility

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension provides a monthly benefit to eligible applicants.

You can apply for and receive a full CPP retirement pension at age 65 or receive it as early as age 60 with a reduction, or as late as age 70 with an increase.

When you should take your CPP retirement pension

The standard age to begin receiving a CPP retirement pension is when you reach age 65, which is the month after your 65th birthday. However, you can take a reduced CPP retirement pension as early as the month after your 60th birthday. You can also take an increased pension if your benefit starts after reaching age 65.

Before you decide when to take your CPP retirement pension, you may want to consider the following:

The Canadian Retirement Income Calculator and your CPP Statement of Contributions within My Service Canada Account can also help you determine the best time to start your CPP retirement pension and get an estimate of how much you might receive.

Eligibility details

Your CPP retirement pension does not start automatically. You must apply for it. Before you apply, you must:

  • be at least a month past your 59th birthday;
  • have worked in Canada and made at least one valid contribution to the CPP; and
  • want your CPP retirement pension payments to begin within 12 months.

Provisions that protect benefits

The CPP includes provisions that help to compensate for periods when individuals may have relatively low or no earnings. Dropping periods of low or no earnings from the calculation of average earnings increases the amount of one’s CPP benefit as calculated under the existing, or base CPP.

Starting in 2019, the CPP enhancement will begin provide similar protection by means of dropping-in, or crediting, individuals with earnings in certain circumstances.

General drop-out provision

Over the course of your working life, you might have had periods where you had low or zero earnings. Such periods can occur for a variety of reasons, such as going to school, becoming unemployed or leaving the workforce to provide care to a family member.

The CPP offers protection against this by automatically dropping a number of months of your lowest earnings when calculating the base component of your CPP benefit.

This provision affects 17% of your base contributory period, allowing up to 8 years of your lowest earnings to be dropped from the calculation. This benefits all CPP contributors.

Example

Charlotte is a high school teacher. She started university at age 18 and, after completing 2 post-secondary degrees over 5 years, she started teaching immediately. In addition to those 5 years, Charlotte took 3 years off during her career to travel and take care of her mother.

Charlotte plans to take her CPP retirement pension when she reaches 65 in 2015. At that point, up to 8 years of her lowest earnings will be automatically dropped from the calculation of her average earnings.

Her 2015 pension will be $8,359, and will then grow with the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Without the drop-outs, her 2015 pension amount would have been only $8,202.

Over-65 Drop-Out

This provision may help to increase the benefit amounts of workers who continue to work and make CPP contributions after reaching age 65, but do not yet receive the CPP retirement pension. It allows periods of relatively low earnings before age 65 to be replaced by earnings after age 65. This provision is applied automatically when calculating benefits.

Disability exclusion and disability drop-in

When calculating the base component of CPP benefits, periods during which individuals are disabled per the CPP legislation are not included in their contributory period. This ensures that individuals who are not able to pursue any substantially gainful work are not penalized.

When calculating the enhanced components of a retirement or survivor’s pension, individuals who become disabled in 2019 or later will have a credit dropped-in to the months they are disabled. The value of the credit is based on the individual’s earnings in the 6 years before becoming disabled.

Like the general drop-out, these 2 provisions are applied automatically when a benefit is calcualted.

Child-rearing provisions

If you stopped working or received lower earnings to raise your children, you may be able to use the CPP’s "child-rearing provisions" to increase the value of your CPP benefits.

Caring for young children can mean leaving the work force or working fewer hours. If your earnings stopped or were lower because you were the primary caregiver raising your children under the age of 7, you can request the child-rearing provisions.

If you are deemed eligible:

  • Low-earning months in the child-rearing period will be excluded (or dropped out) from the contributory period of the base CPP when calculating your CPP benefit amount; and
  • Pension credits will be provided (or dropped in) to low-earning months in the contributory periods of the CPP enhancement based on your average earnings in the 5 years prior to the birth or adoption of the child (if that amount is higher than your actual earnings)

These 2 provisions will protect the value of your CPP benefits during a period of reduced earnings while caring for your children, ensuring that you get the highest possible payment from the CPP.

Notes: Primary caregiver
For the CPP, the primary caregiver is the person who was most responsible for the day-to-day needs of the children for the specified periods.

Am I eligible?

The child-rearing provisions may apply to you if:

  • you have children born after December 31, 1958;
  • your earnings were lower because you either stopped working, worked fewer hours or took a lesser paying job to be the primary caregiver of a dependent child under the age of 7; and
  • you or your spouse or common-law partner received Family Allowance payments or were eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (even if you did not receive the benefit).

Either spouse or common-law partner can request the child-rearing provision, but it cannot be used by both parents for the same period of child-rearing.

Why should I request the child-rearing provisions?

You should request the child-rearing provision because it may increase the amount of your CPP benefit.

The child-rearing provision could also help you meet the eligibility requirements for a CPP disability benefit, should you need it. In the event of your death, it could help you meet the contributory requirements to provide benefits to your estate and survivors.

How and when should I request the child-rearing provisions?

You should request the child-rearing provisions through My Service Canada Account or when you apply for any CPP benefit.

If you are already receiving a CPP benefit, you can still request these provisions through My Service Canada Account or by completing the child-rearing provision form (ISP1640) and mailing it to Service Canada as indicated on the form.

What documents do I need to provide?

You must provide one of the following for each child:

  • the child's name, date of birth, and Social Insurance Number; or
  • the child's birth certificate (the original or a certified true copy)

You may also be required to provide proof of the date of entry into Canada for children born outside Canada.

Example

Julie was employed until her daughter Elizabeth, was born in 2019. Julie stayed at home with Elizabeth until she started school in 2023.

When Julie applies for her retirement pension in 2050 at age 65 and requests the child-rearing provisions, the CPP will:

  • exclude the period from the month following Elizabeth's birth in 2019 to 2023 in its calculation of Julie's the base component pension benefit amount; and
  • provide (drop-in) credits for that same period based on Julie’s earnings in the 5 years before Elizabeth was born.

Julie will receive a CPP retirement pension that is almost 15 % higher than it would have been without the benefit of the child-rearing provisions.

What happens if I die before I can apply for my retirement pension?

If you die before applying for your CPP retirement pension, we cannot pay your retirement pension to anyone else unless you were over 70 when you died and your estate submits a CPP retirement pension application no later than one year after your death. In this case, we can pay up to 12 months of retirement pension to your estate.

Also, your estate, spouse or common-law partner, or next-of-kin may be eligible for the CPP death benefit if minimum contribution requirements are met. In addition, your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible to receive the CPP survivor’s pension, and your dependent children may be eligible to receive the CPP children’s benefit.

Not applicable to you?

Are CPP Retirement benefits not applicable to you? Use the Benefits Finder to find other Government of Canada, provincial, or territorial benefits.

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