TN 6 (10-03)

GN 01715.020 Canadian Social Security Benefits – Eligibility Requirements

A. Introduction

Canadian Social Security benefits consist of two separate programs:

1. Old-Age Security (OAS)

The OAS program, which was effective January 1, 1952, pays old-age benefits to people based on their years of residence in Canada.

2. Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)

CPP and QPP, which were effective January 1, 1966, pay earnings-related retirement, survivors and disability benefits that are payable in addition to the OAS benefit. Applicants for benefits who have contributed to both CPP and QPP apply to QPP if they live in Quebec and to CPP if they live in any other part of Canada. For applicants living abroad, the last place of Canadian residence determines jurisdiction.

B. Policy—Canadian eligibility requirements

The eligibility requirements for Canadian old-age, retirement, survivors and disability benefits under the OAS, CPP and QPP are shown below.

1. OAS—Residence based benefit

The eligibility requirements for Canadian OAS benefits are as follows:

a. (OAS) Old-Age benefit

  • paid to anyone in Canada who is at least age 65 and has been a resident of Canada for at least 10 years after age 18

  • payable outside Canada for only 6 months following the month of departure from Canada unless the person has at least 20 years of Canadian residence after age 18

  • no work credits are required.

b. Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

  • an income-tested benefit paid to OAS beneficiaries living in Canada who have little or no income beyond the OAS benefit

  • payable outside Canada for only 6 months following the month of departure from Canada.

c. Allowance

  • Spouse or Common-Law Partner

    • an income-tested benefit paid to the spouse or common-law partner of an OAS pensioner. (Canada defines “common-law partners” as two people, regardless of sex, who have lived together, in a conjugal relationship for at least 1 year.)

    • spouse or common-law partner must be age 60-64 and the OAS pensioner must also be receiving GIS

    • spouse or common-law partner must have credit for 10 years of residence in Canada after age 18

    • payable to the spouse or common-law partner outside Canada for only 6 months following the month of departure from Canada of either the pensioner or the spouse or common-law partner.

  • Surviving Spouse or Common-Law Partner

    • an income-tested benefit paid to the surviving spouse (widow or widower) or common-law partner of an OAS pensioner. (Canada defines “common-law partners” as two people, regardless of sex, who have lived together, in a conjugal relationship for at least 1 year.)

    • surviving spouse or common-law partner must be age 60-64

    • payable to the surviving spouse (widow or widower) or common-law partner outside Canada for only 6 months following the month of departure from Canada.

2. CPP/QPP—Earnings related benefits

The eligibility requirements for Canadian CPP/QPP benefits are as follows:

a. Retired Worker

  • full benefit at age 65 or reduced benefit as early as age 60

  • only 1 contribution (1 year of coverage) required.

b. Surviving Spouse or Common-Law Partner

  • for CPP, age 35 or older, or under age 35 if disabled or maintaining dependent child of the deceased worker

  • for QPP, no age requirement

  • deceased worker had coverage credit for at least 1/3 of the years in the contributory period with a minimum of 3 years up to maximum of 10 years. (A contributory period begins January 1, 1966 or at age 18, whichever is later, and ends when the person reaches age 65, becomes disabled or dies, whichever is earlier.)

  • for CPP, same-sex common-law partner can qualify for benefits only if the worker’s death occurred on or after January 1, 1998

  • for QPP, same-sex common-law partner can qualify for benefits only if the worker’s death occurred on or after April 4, 1985

  • remarriage will not affect entitlement.

NOTE: Canada defines “common-law partners” as two people, regardless of sex, who have lived together, in a conjugal relationship for at least 1 year.

c.