As many individuals had lower income in the 2020 year, some may be surprised that they are eligible to receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). In addition, changes in July 2020 allow individuals to earn more without eroding benefits. For those who have been eligible for some time, GIS (and OAS) can be applied for retroactively (up to eleven months back).

Individuals over the age of 65, living in Canada, receiving OAS and having income not exceeding certain thresholds, will qualify for GIS. A single, widowed or divorced individual must have income below $18,648. The combined income of a married or common-law couple cannot exceed the following:

  • $24,624 if the spouse/common-law partner receives the full OAS pension;
  • $44,688 if the spouse/common-law partner does not receive an OAS pension; and
  • $44,688 if the spouse/common-law partner receives the Allowance.

Income for this purpose is generally net income on the personal tax return (line 23600) with the most notable difference being the exclusion of OAS, GIS and related payments. CPP and EI premiums can also be deducted against income. In addition, effective July 2020, up to $5,000 of employment and self-employment income annually is exempted. For those earning between $5,000 and $15,000, 50% of income earned in this bracket is also exempted.

Payments from July to June are based on the previous year’s income. So, the 2020 personal tax return will impact benefits from July 2021 to June 2022.

Also, note that individuals outside Canada for more than six months cannot collect GIS. Service Canada and the Canada Border Services share information.

ACTION ITEM: Review whether you or a relative may be eligible for GIS as soon as possible. Retroactive applications can only be made for the previous 11 months.