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Short for the Guaranteed Income Supplement, GIS is a government-issued payment issued to low-income recipients of Old Age Security (OAS). This non-taxable credit is meant to bridge the financial gap faced by many pensioners. Even with OAS and the Canada Pension Plan, the rising cost of living results in many pensioners living below the cost-of-living threshold. GIS addresses this, enabling those living out their senior years to access the funds necessary to support themselves. 

What Is GIS In Canada?

Guaranteed Income Supplement is a monthly allowance issued by the federal government. It is accessible to low-income seniors who are currently in retirement. It applies largely to situations where Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan payouts are the main sources of income. There is an income threshold which must be met in order to receive this benefit. Scheduled according to rising rates of inflation, the payout adjusts regularly to help meet the cost of living in Canada. 

Seniors over the age of 65 represented only 15.6 percent of the population in 2014. By 2030, it’s estimated that this statistic will increase to 23 percent. This highlights the importance of income security supplements like GIS, since the senior population is not a part of the workforce in most cases. If you are a senior who is not already receiving this benefit, and are concerned about making ends meet, the GIS benefit can lend a lot of assistance, provided you are eligible. 

What Are The GIS Eligibility Requirements?

The basic requirements for GIS are fairly straightforward. You must be receiving the Old Age Security Pension, reside in Canada, and have an annual income lower than the maximum threshold. The income is suspended if the recipient is incarcerated for over two years. For most investigating the GIS standards, it comes down to income requirements:

  • Divorced, single, or widowed pensioner: The individual income of $20,784 yearly is the maximum, and the resulting benefit is $1,023.88 per month.
  • Spouse receiving full OAS pension: The combined income of the partners must not exceed $27,456 offering a payment of $616.31 monthly.
  • Spouse not receiving OAS: This is common if one spouse is of the age threshold where the other is not. In this case, the maximum annual income is $49,824. It results in a monthly payment of $1,023.88.
  • Spouse receiving GIS: For those with a spouse who also receives GIS, the combined annual income cannot be in excess of $38,448. The result is a $616.31 payment to each spouse receiving the benefit.

Keep in mind that, using the Consumer Price Index, the income thresholds and payouts are updated on a quarterly basis. You can access the most recent information to ensure that you continue to be eligible for the benefit, lest you be asked to repay the amount come tax time. 

Allowance Benefit Details

There is a financial supplement available for low-income persons who are the spouse of a GIS recipient. There are different criteria for this benefit, including:

  • Applicant must be between ages 60 to 64
  • Your spouse must receive OAS and be eligible for GIS
  • The applicant must reside in Canada
  • Your income cannot exceed $27,984 annually

Provided you meet this threshold, you are entitled to a monthly payment of $1,551.85 per month. Keep in mind that this amount is updated quarterly.

Allowance For Survivors

Another benefit available is for survivors of those receiving the OAS benefit. It is a non-taxable payout, available to seniors below the income threshold. The recipient must be aged 60 to 64 and have a partner who’s died. The annual threshold for income is $27,984 as of the first quarter in 2021. The allowance is in the amount of $1,551.85. It’s issued on a monthly basis, and lasts until you turn 65, at which time, you can receive OAS and GIS benefits.

How Is GIS Calculated?

There are several factors that contribute to your eligibility for this benefit. It depends largely on your living situation: whether you are with a partner, your income, and the current rate of inflation. The benefit is assessed every January, April, July, and October to ensure that it is in line with the Consumer Price Index. The good news is that, if the cost of living decreases, you will not receive less money. Conversely, if inflation is significant, your payments may increase to account for that difference. 

2023 Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Payments Dates And Amounts

Based on the Consumer Price Index, the amount you receive is reassessed every quarter. The payments are issued on the same dates as the Old Age Security benefits. 

GIS Payment Dates 2023
January 27
February 24
March 29
April 26
May 29
June 28
July 27
August 29
September 27
October 27
November 28
December 20

To ensure that you do not face a tax burden at the end of the year, it’s important to check in once a quarter to ensure that your annual amount is not in excess. While rising inflation rates suggest that the amount of entitlement would increase, it is worth looking into four times a year (at least). 

How To Apply For GIS?

Enrollment in the GIS program is not automatic. You must apply for this benefit, unless you received a letter indicating automatic enrollment. Otherwise, it is time to apply if you receive a letter requesting application, the information on your enrollment letter is incorrect, and if you are an OAS recipient who has never received GIS. Assuming you did not receive correspondence the month after your 64th birthday, it’s time to take next steps. 

Step 1 . Gather Your GIS Documents

You will need your Social Insurance Number and information pertaining to your spouse or common-law partner including date of birth and Social Insurance information. You must provide all information about any countries in which you’ve lived since the age of 18. In addition, you need to supply banking information for direct deposit, detail when you wish for the payments to start, and state any reduction in pension or employment income. 

Step 2. Determine Your Income

The GIS benefit is only available for low-income households, determined by the quarterly-assessed annual threshold. 

You must include CPP or QPP pension benefits, in addition to any private pensions whether domestic or overseas. Money you took from an RRSP during the year of assessment counts as well. In addition, Employment Insurance benefits count as well. You must also declare any interest on savings or investment income. Capital gains and taxable dividends, in addition to net gain from rental properties or self-employment counts as well. Finally, workers compensation and alimony are also counted towards your income. 

Some money is exempted as income, making it easier to meet the noted threshold. Among these exceptions include all gains from OAS and GIS, whether you are the primary or receiving an allowance or survivor benefits. Self-employed individuals only have to declare amounts received up to $5,000. If the amount made in that year falls between $5,000 and $15,000, then the GIS amount is reduced by fifty cents on every dollar you received. Other exempt funds include premiums towards CPP, EI, and QPP. Finally, you do not need to count deductions such as moving or employment expenses, nor must you declare union dues or RRSP deductions. 

Step 3. Submit Your Application

There is more than one way to apply to the GIS program, with both digital and paper options. 

  • Online application: Once you have determined that you qualify, you can submit your application digitally. To apply online, you must be at least a month past your 64th birthday and not receive the OAS pension. Additionally, Service Canada cannot be currently assessing your Old Age Security application. You must reside in Canada and not have a legal Trustee handling your account. To apply online, you will need a My Service Canada Account, for which you can register online.
  • Paper application: If you received a letter, it will come with a form that you can fill out. Alternatively, you can opt to download and fill out the paper application form ISP-3550. The necessary documents are the same as for the other application, though you must include certified true copies of your documents. Mail or bring it in person to a Service Canada location.

Step 4. Wait For A Decision

Once you’ve submitted the application, it is a waiting game. You will receive a response with either a decision or requesting more information. In the meantime, provided you use the online portal, you can monitor your account’s progress. 

Step 5. Next Steps: Approval And Disapproval

When you receive a decision, it will tell you whether or not you are approved. An approval letter will detail the date of your first payment, the amount you will get every month, and any past payments which you are owed. 

If your application is denied, you have a period of 90 days to request reconsideration. The application review will be done by staff other than those initially reviewed. Plus, since the thresholds are evaluated quarterly, you may be eligible at the time of appeal. To proceed with the reconsideration process, contact the Social Security Tribunal to request an appeal.

Guaranteed Income Support FAQs

What is the maximum income to qualify for GIS?

The maximum income amount depends on the household receiving GIS. For example, a single individual has an income cutoff of $20,784 yearly. For couples where the spouse does not receive OAS, the threshold for their partner is $49,824.It may sound like a low threshold, but there are many exceptions to what counts as income. The program is available to many, and with benefits of at least three figures monthly, it is worth doing the math and seeing if you qualify.

Is GIS taxable income in Canada?

No, the Guaranteed Income Supplement is not a taxable form of income in Canada. As such, it is not included in your eligibility threshold. Other income, such as the Canada Pension Plan proceeds, is taxable and does count towards your annual income. 

Can I receive GIS as a sponsored immigrant?

There are many situations where a sponsored immigrant can receive this benefit, with some noteworthy caveats. Sponsored immigrants who resided in Canada for fewer than ten years after the age of majority are not eligible during the period of sponsorship. The only exceptions to this standard is if the sponsor has undergone bankruptcy, is incarcerated for longer than six months, is convicted of abusing the immigrant, or in the event the sponsor dies. 

How much GIS will I get?

The amount of income you get from this supplement depends on your situation, including whether you are single or partnered. It also depends on the amount of income you make from Old Age Security. The minimum you can get is $616.31 as a single. Bear in mind that these amounts are reassessed on a quarterly basis, differs based on income, and your living situation.

When do GIS payments start?

To ensure that you get your payments on time, you must file taxes each year before the deadline. Assuming you are eligible and all your documents are in order, you get your first GIS payment the month after your 65th birthday. 

Final Notes

Guaranteed Income Supplement is a necessary service to assist Canada’s aging population. The program is curated in such a manner that it directs to those who need it the most. Since the supplement is non-taxable, it adds no burden to struggling seniors. Being reevaluated on a quarterly basis, the amount issued keeps up with the Consumer Price Index. The application process is straightforward, enabling some of Canada’s most vulnerable population to access necessary funds to live. 

Corrina Murdoch avatar on Loans Canada
Corrina Murdoch

Corrina Murdoch has been a dedicated freelance writer and editor for several years. With an academic background in the sciences and a penchant for mathematics, she seeks to provide readers with accurate, reliable information on important topics. Working as a print journalist for several years, Corrina expanded her reach into the digital sphere to help more people gain insight into the realm of finances. When she's not writing, you can find Corrina swimming and spending time with family.

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