Thanks to auto-enrolment more seniors now benefit from the Guaranteed Income Supplement
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a monthly non-taxable benefit paid to residents of Canada who receive an Old Age Security (OAS) pension and who have little or no additional income. It plays a critical role in supporting low-income seniors and maximizing its take-up is key to addressing seniors’ poverty. Today, almost 1.97 million seniors receive GIS.
The Government of Canada recently announced it was expanding the OAS program’s automatic enrolment to include the GIS. From now on, thanks to this change, up to 17 000 seniors will be automatically enrolled, each month, for both benefits when they turn 64 each, without ever having to complete an initial application. They will receive a letter from Service Canada letting them know they will be automatically enrolled for both benefits which, pending eligibility, will be paid one month after they turn 65.
Automatic enrolment is only one way our government is helping seniors access the GIS and other supports. Some of the other activities include:
- Putting in place an integrated single application to apply for both OAS and GIS.
- Launching the OAS Program Toolkit to assist advocates and support groups in helping seniors apply for benefits
- Working closely with the Canada Revenue Agency to raise take up rates for GIS and other income-tested benefits. Our best estimates indicate about 90 percent of seniors entitled to the GIS are receiving the benefit, and we are working to do better.
- Providing Service Canada outreach information sessions on all programs including OAS, GIS and CPP. To date, 700 communities have been engaged.
- Streamlining and making improvements to the Department’s internal assessment processes. This has resulted in more than 91,000 GIS-eligible clients being identified who will now receive the benefit.
- Dedicated mail-out to eligible seniors to inform them about the OAS program, and actively encourage them to apply. Between November 2016 and January 2017, approximately 99,000 letters were sent out to seniors. The Department has received responses from 46,000 of these seniors. And this exercise continues.
It is important that all Canadians be aware of benefits and services they are eligible for — and, in the case of seniors, that many of them have worked a lifetime to earn. My department will continue to explore new way to ensure this happens.
To learn more about the OAS and GIS benefits visit www.canada.gc.ca