Income Security Programs

Last updated on September 2, 2020

Income security is critical for seniors who want to continue to live a healthy, active lifestyle as they age. The federal and provincial governments in Canada provide a wide range of programs to help ensure all seniors can maintain a good quality of life.

We've compiled a list of income security programs for which you may be eligible as a seniors. You must apply to receive benefits from most of the programs listed below. Unless otherwise noted, plan to apply at least six months before you want benefits to begin.

Use the links below to find more information about these programs and how to apply. Or, you can visit the following programs listing page.

Canada Pension Plan

If you contributed to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) while you were working, you are eligible to begin receiving monthly retirement pension payments as early as age 60. You must apply for CPP; retirement benefits do not begin automatically unless you were receiving CPP disability benefits when you turned 65.

If you apply for CPP retirement benefits to begin early (age 60-64), you will receive a reduced pension. If you apply after age 65 and as late as age 70, you will receive an increased pension. If you apply for your pension to begin at age 65, you will receive your full pension amount with no increase or reduction.

For more information about CPP, see:

Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement

The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly benefit available to most Canadians 65 years of age who meet the Canadian legal status and residence requirements. You must apply to receive OAS benefits.

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides a monthly non-taxable benefit to low-income OAS recipients living in Canada. You must apply to receive GIS benefits.

For more information about OAS and GIS, see:

Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor

The Allowance is a monthly benefit for low-income seniors (aged 60-64) whose spouse or common-law partner is eligible for, or currently receiving, OAS and GIS benefits. You must apply to receive the Allowance. You may lose some benefits if you don’t apply by age 60.

The Allowance for the Survivor provides money for eligible low-income seniors (aged 60-64) whose spouse or common-law partner has died. You must apply to receive the Allowance for the Survivor.

For more information about both the Allowance and Allowance for the Survivor programs, please go to:

BC Income Assistance for Seniors not receiving Old Age Security

If you are 65 or over and in need of financial assistance, but not eligible for OAS and GIS benefits, the BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) program may be able to help. Your eligibility for BCEA benefits depends on your income, assets, and other factors. Find out more about applying.

You can apply online with:

To speak with an agent, call toll-free at 1-866-866-0800.

Veterans' Benefits

Veterans and their families may be eligible for a variety of services and benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada. These include disability pensions for veterans injured during service, an allowance for low-income veterans and their families, and other support for families and survivors.

For more information about Veterans' Benefits programs, please go to: