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The senior population in Canada is rising. In 2014, only 15.6% of the population was made up of seniors over the age of 65, but by 2030, it’s estimated that this statistic will increase to 23%. This highlights the importance of income security supplements to help non-working seniors — especially those considered low-income — continue to make ends meet.

Even with OAS and the Canada Pension Plan, the rising cost of living results in many pensioners living below the cost-of-living threshold. To address this, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is provided to eligible seniors. This government-issued payment enables those living out their senior years to access the funds necessary to support themselves.

Key Points About GIS

What is it?GIS is a non-taxable payment made to low-income seniors.
How much can you get?The supplement amount is based on income, and can be as high as $1,065.47 per month.
Who’s eligible?GIS is for Old Age Security pensioners aged 65 and older with low-incomes.
How to apply?The government will send a letter the month after you turn 64 years old, though you may have to apply in some cases. 

What Is The GIS In Canada?

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a non-taxable, monthly allowance issued by the federal government 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. 

What Are The GIS Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for the GIS, you must:

Maximum Annual Income Thresholds For The GIS

Maximum annual income levels depend on your marital status:

StatusMaximum Annual Income
Divorced, single, or widowed pensioner$21,624
Spouse receiving full OAS pension$28,560 (combined)
Spouse not receiving OAS or an Allowance$51,840 (combined)
Spouse receiving an Allowance$39,984 (combined)

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. 

2024 Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Payments Amounts

The monthly payment amount you receive depends on your status and that of your spouse/common-law partner, if applicable:

StatusMonthly Payment Amount
Divorced, single, or widowed pensioner$1,065.47
Spouse receiving full OAS pension$641.35
Spouse not receiving OAS or an Allowance$1,065.47
Spouse receiving an Allowance$641.35

2024 Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Payments Dates

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 2024
January 29, 2024
February 27, 2024
March 26, 2024
April 26, 2024
May 29, 2024
June 26, 2024
July 29, 2024
August 28, 2024
September 25, 2024
October 29, 2024
November 27, 2024
December 20, 2024

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).

Are you a senior in Ontario? You might qualify for GAINS as well.

How To Apply For GIS

You may not necessarily need to apply for the GIS. The CRA reviews your income information every year. If you file your income taxes annually, you will automatically be paid a GIS benefit once you’re of age and meet the income criteria. 

However, there are some situations in which you may have to apply for the GIS:

  • You receive a letter requesting an application
  • The information on your enrollment letter is incorrect
  • You are an OAS recipient who has never received GIS

If you need to apply for the GIS, only a one-time application is needed, as long as you file your tax return every year. 

Steps To Apply For The GIS

If you have to apply for the GIS, follow these steps:

Step 1. Gather Your GIS Documents

Documents required to apply for the GIS include the following:

  • Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) 
  • Information about your spouse or common-law partner, including their date of birth and SIN
  • Information about any countries in which you’ve lived since the age of 18
  • Banking information for direct deposit
  • 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 information about all income collected from various sources, such as the following:

  • CPP or QPP pension benefits
  • Private pensions, whether domestic or overseas
  • Funds withdrawn from an RRSP during the year of assessment
  • Employment Insurance (EI) collected
  • Interest on savings or investment income
  • Capital gains from investments or rental properties 
  • Taxable dividends
  • Self-employment income
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Alimony

Step 3. Submit Your Application

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

Online applicationOnce 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 currently be 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 applicationIf 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 your application form in person to a Service Canada location.

Step 4. Wait For A Decision

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

Step 5. Start Collecting The GIS, Or Re-Apply

If you are approved, you will receive an approval letter that 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. 

What Are Some Reasons Why GIS Payments Stop?

Your GIS payments may stop in many situations, such as the following:

  • You moved out of Canada for more than 6 months
  • Your income increased above the maximum threshold
  • You are incarcerated for at least 2 years
  • You get married, separated, or your/common-law partner dies
  • You did not provide the CRA with the required information about your income
  • You did not file your income taxes

Other Benefits You Can Get Under The Old Age Security (OAS) Program

Besides GIS, there are two other programs your spouse can receive for financial support.

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 $39,984 annually

Provided you meet this threshold, you are entitled to a monthly payment of $1,354.69 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, a non-taxable payout available to seniors below the income threshold. The recipient must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

The allowance is in the amount of $1,614.89. It’s issued on a monthly basis, and lasts until you turn 65, at which time, you can receive OAS and GIS benefits.

Final Notes

The GIS is a necessary service to assist Canada’s aging population, particularly those within the low-income bracket. Since the supplement is non-taxable, it adds no burden to struggling seniors. The application process is straightforward, enabling some of Canada’s most vulnerable population to access the necessary funds to live.

Guaranteed Income Support FAQs

Can I receive GIS payments if I live outside Canada?

Any Canadian senior who lives outside of Canada cannot receive GIS payments. The GIS is meant to help low-income seniors and one of the criteria to receive these payments is to reside in Canada.  If you move outside of the country, or plan to be abroad for over 6 months, you must inform the CRA. Once you move, your GIS payments will stop, though you may still receive a payment for the month you leave. If or when you return to Canada, you can re-apply.

Is GIS taxable income in Canada?

No, the Guaranteed Income Supplement is not taxable 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 10 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 6 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 status and income. Depending on your situation, the monthly payment you may receive ranges from $641.35 to $1,065.47.

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 can get your first GIS payment the month after your 65th birthday.
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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