Old Age Security – Eligibility
Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, there are changes to this program.
Your employment history is not a factor in determining eligibility: you can receive the Old Age Security (OAS) pension even if you have never worked or are still working.
If you are living in Canada, you must:
- be 65 years old or older
- be a Canadian citizen or a legal resident at the time we approve your OAS pension application, and
- have resided in Canada for at least 10 years since the age of 18
If you are living outside Canada, you must:
- be 65 years old or older
- have been a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada on the day before you left Canada, and
- have resided in Canada for at least 20 years since the age of 18
If neither of the above scenarios applies to you, you may still qualify for an OAS pension, a pension from another country or from both countries if you have:
- lived in one of the countries with which Canada has established a social security agreement, or
- contributed to the social security system of one of the countries with which Canada has established a social security agreement
For more information, see Lived or living outside Canada.
Deferring your Old Age Security pension
As of July 2013, you can defer receiving your Old Age Security (OAS) pension for up to 60 months (5 years) after the date you become eligible for an OAS pension in exchange for a higher monthly amount. If you delay receiving your OAS pension, your monthly pension payment will be increased by 0.6% for every month you delay receiving it, up to a maximum of 36% at age 70.
If you choose to defer receipt of your OAS pension, you will not be eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and your spouse or common-law partner will not be eligible for the Allowance benefit for the period you are delaying your OAS pension.
Who will benefit from deferring their Old Age Security pension
People who earn more than the maximum annual income allowed for a given year will have to repay part of or their entire OAS pension. If they are able to delay receiving it until they have a lower income, they will be able to keep more of the OAS pension, and their OAS pension amount will be higher because of the increases for every month they delayed receiving it.
In what situations am I not entitled to monthly increases
If you decide to defer receiving your OAS pension, you will not be entitled to monthly increases during any month in which:
- you are incarcerated in a federal penitentiary as a result of a sentence of 2 years or longer (except for the first month of incarceration), or
- you are outside Canada, have less than 20 years of residence and do not qualify under an international social security agreement
If I want to defer my Old Age Security pension, when should I apply
In deciding when to start receiving your OAS pension, you should consider your personal situation, taking into account such things as your:
- current and future sources of income
- current and future employment status
- health, and
- plans for retirement
You can apply for your OAS pension up to 11 months before you want your OAS pension to start.
Your deferred OAS pension will start on the date you indicate in writing on your Application for the Old Age Security Pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
There is no financial advantage in deferring your OAS pension after age 70. In fact, you risk losing benefits. If you are over the age of 70, apply now.
How you can delay receiving your Old Age Security (OAS) pension if you received a notification letter for automatic enrolment
If you received a notification letter that you are automatically enrolled for the OAS pension, you are also automatically enrolled for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) if you are eligible. You cannot receive the GIS unless you are receiving the OAS.
You can delay receiving both the OAS pension and GIS benefit, or you can receive the OAS pension and delay receiving the GIS benefit. There are 2 ways of doing this:
- go into your My Service Canada Account and follow the directions, or
- send a letter to Service Canada
If you choose to send a letter, the letter should say:
- I declare that I do not want to receive the OAS pension or the GIS benefit at this time
- I declare that I do not want to receive the GIS benefit at this time but still want to receive the OAS pension
Include your name, address, telephone number, signature and date. Also include your client identification number. (It is on the first page of your notification letter).
Can I cancel my Old Age Security pension to benefit from deferral
Yes, you may request to cancel your OAS pension if you have been receiving it for less than 6 months. To cancel your OAS pension, you must provide a written request to Service Canada within 6 months of receiving your first payment. You will also be required to repay, within 6 months from the day your cancellation request is granted, the amount of OAS pension that you received and any related benefits you and/or your spouse or common-law partner received during this time. You will be able to re-apply at a later date and receive an increased OAS pension.
Examples of deferring an Old Age Security pension
Deferring for 1 year
Michael turned 65 in July 2013. If he decides to delay receiving his OAS pension for 1 year, his monthly amount will increase by 7.2% (0.6% x 12 months) to account for the 12-month deferral period from August 2013 to July 2014.
If Michael's entitlement is $549.89 per month, his increased monthly payment would be $589.48.
Deferring for 5 years
Rita will be turning 65 in December 2013. If she decides to delay receiving her OAS pension for the maximum deferral period of 60 months, her monthly amount will increase by 36% at age 70 (0.6% x 60 months).
If Rita's entitlement is $549.89 per month, her increased monthly payment would be $747.85.
Deferring with an earlier start date than the date of application
John was eligible to receive his OAS pension in August 2013 and he decided to delay receiving it. In December 2014, John applies for his OAS pension. He indicates on his application that he would like his OAS pension to be effective in October 2014, 3 months earlier than his application date. His OAS pension monthly amount will then increase by 8.4% (0.6% x 14 months) to account for the 14-month deferral period from August 2013 to September 2014. The monthly increase does not apply to the retroactive period from October 2014 to December 2014.
If John's entitlement is $549.89 per month, his increased monthly payment would be $596.08.
The amounts provided in the above examples are based on the OAS pension and Benefits Monthly Payment Amounts and Maximum Annual Incomes Chart for the period of April 1 to June 30, 2013. Consult the table of Old Age Security payment amounts for current benefit rates.
Does the increase also apply to my Old Age Security income-tested benefits
No. The increase applies only to your OAS pension, and not to the OAS income-tested benefits (GIS, Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor).
Not applicable to you
Are Old Age Security benefits not applicable to you? Use the Benefits Finder to find other Government of Canada, provincial, or territorial benefits.
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