Supports for Seniors

Overview

The Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada offer individuals who are 65 years or older, and their families, a variety of senior-specific support programs.

BC provides the Senior’s Supplement and BC Bus Pass to eligible low-income seniors residing in BC.

Most recipients of income assistance, disability assistance, and hardship assistance transition to Canada’s public pension programs when they turn 65. Examples of Canada’s public pension programs include the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

Low-income seniors who are not eligible to receive the full amount from Canada’s public pension programs may receive a top-up from income assistance, disability assistance, or hardship assistance to the maximum assistance rate for their family unit.


INCOME ASSISTANCE, HARDSHIP ASSISTANCE, AND DISABILITY ASSISTANCE AFTER AGE 65

Applicants and recipients are required to pursue and accept income or other means of support that would enable them to be self-supporting or partly self-supporting. Canada’s public pension programs like Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) are considered income that clients are required to pursue. [See Other Income – Canada’s Public Pension Programs.]

Typically, income assistance, disability assistance, and hardship assistance recipients who receive both OAS and GIS from the Government of Canada will no longer qualify for assistance because their combined income from OAS, GIS and/or other sources exceeds income assistance, disability assistance, or hardship assistance rates.

However, some applicants and recipients may be eligible for income assistance, disability assistance or hardship assistance after they turn 65. For example, an individual may be eligible for assistance after age 65 if:

  • they do not receive any income support from Canada’s pension programs because:
  • they do not meet eligibility requirements (for example, OAS residency and/or citizenship requirements)
  • they are in the process of applying for Canada’s pension programs [See Related Links – Support, Shelter & Special Care Facilities]
  • their income from Canada’s pension programs is less than the amount of income assistance, disability assistance, or hardship assistance the individual is eligible for. This may occur if:
    • the individual’s income from OAS and GIS is less than the amount of assistance they are eligible for
    • the individual did not file their taxes or did not file their taxes on time to receive GIS
    • the individual is ineligible for GIS due to the previous year’s income and the previous year’s income is no longer received [See Related Links –Support, Shelter & Special Care Facilities]

A senior’s eligibility for income assistance, disability assistance, or hardship assistance depends on their income, not their age.

OTHER INCOME – CANADA’S PUBLIC PENSION PROGRAMS

Pursuing Income

Applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability assistance, and hardship assistance who may be eligible for other income or other means of support are required to pursue and accept the other income or means of support. Those who fail to accept or refuse to pursue other income, or other means of support, may be ineligible for assistance or eligible at a reduced rate.

Canada’s public pension programs are considered income. Applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability assistance, and hardship assistance who may be eligible for Canada’s public pensions programs are required to pursue them. [See Related Links – Pursuing Income]

The Government of Canada offers multiple public pension programs for seniors. Common public pension benefits include Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement, CPP Disability, CPP Post-Retirement Disability Benefits, Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Allowance, and Allowance for the Survivor. Each of these pension programs have distinct eligibility requirements.

[For detailed information, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts – Canada Pension Plan.]

Canada Pension Plan

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement benefit is a monthly, taxable benefit that replaces part of an individual’s employment income when they retire. CPP is available to individuals who have made contributions to the plan through employment in Canada or another eligible country, or as the result of receiving credits from a former spouse or former common-law partner at the end of the relationship.

Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive CPP.

All applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability assistance and hardship assistance aged 64 and older will be required to apply for CPP retirement benefits to be received at age 65. Applicants and recipients are not required to apply for CPP early retirement benefits.

[For more information on CPP, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts – Canada Pension Plan.]

Canada Pension Plan Post-Retirement Disability Benefits

The Canada Pension Plan Post-Retirement Disability Benefits (PRDB) is a monthly benefit for CPP retirement pension recipients between the age of 60 and 65 who have made sufficient contributions to the CPP and are unable to work regularly because of a disability.

PRDB is for CPP retirement pension beneficiaries found to have a disability, but not eligible for CPPD because they already received CPP for more than 15 months.

[For more information on CPP, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts – Canada Pension Plan.]

Old Age Security

The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is for individuals aged 65 or older who meet certain residency requirements. Employment is not a factor for determining eligibility for OAS.

Some individuals may have to apply to Service Canada to receive OAS.  The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a supplemental benefit of the OAS program. Individuals who also pursue the GIS must file their income taxes on time each year.

Like all other pension benefits in this list, OAS is considered income.

All applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability assistance and hardship assistance aged 64 and older will be required to apply for OAS and GIS retirement benefits to be received at age 65.

[For more information on OAS, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts - Old Age Security.]

Guaranteed Income Supplement

The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a supplemental benefit to the OAS program. GIS may be available to low-income seniors who receive OAS.

Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive GIS. The supplement amount is based on how much income the individual earned in the previous tax year. Individuals must file their income taxes on time each year for Service Canada to determine their eligibility for GIS.

Like all other pension benefits in this list, GIS is considered income.

All applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability assistance and hardship assistance aged 64 and older will be required to apply for OAS and GIS retirement benefits to be received at age 65.

Some seniors who receive GIS may also be eligible for the provincial Senior’s Supplement. 

[For more information on GIS, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts - Old Age Security.]

Allowance (GIS Benefit)

The Allowance is a benefit available to low-income individuals aged 60 to 64 who are the spouse or common-law partner of a GIS recipient.

Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive the Allowance. Individuals must file their income taxes on time each year for Service Canada to determine their eligibility for the Allowance.

[For more information on the Allowance, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts - Old Age Security.]

Allowance for the Survivor (GIS Benefit)

The Allowance for the Survivor is a benefit available to people aged 60 to 64 who have a low income, who are living in Canada, and whose spouse or common-law partner has died.

Individuals must apply to Service Canada to receive the Allowance for the Survivor. Individuals must file their income taxes on time each year for Service Canada to determine their eligibility for the Allowance for the Survivor.

[For more information on the Allowance for the Survivor, visit the Employment and Social Development Canada internet site. See Contacts - Old Age Security.]

SUPPPORTS FOR LOW-INCOME SENIORS

The Senior’s Supplement, BC Bus Pass and Life-Threatening Health Needs are available to all eligible low-income seniors in BC and are not limited to income assistance, hardship assistance or disability assistance recipients.

Senior’s Supplement

The Senior’s Supplement is a provincial top-up to the Government of Canada’s Guaranteed Income Supplement payment (GIS). The Senior’s Supplement is paid monthly to eligible low-income residents of BC who receive GIS or the Allowance through the Old Age Security pension program. [See Other Income – Canada’s Public Pension Programs.]

Seniors must apply for GIS through Service Canada. Once approved for GIS, eligible low-income seniors will receive the Senior’s Supplement automatically.

The Government of Canada calculates GIS rates using the income reported on an individual’s taxes the previous year. The Senior’s Supplement rate is then calculated based on the amount of OAS and GIS an individual receives. Higher incomes result in lower amounts of GIS and Senior’s Supplement. [For information on how the Senior’s Supplement is calculated, see Rate Tables: Senior’s Supplement.]

[For more information, see Related Links – Senior’s Supplement.]

Bus Pass for Low-Income Seniors

An annual bus pass is available to help eligible low-income seniors participate more fully in their communities. The bus pass covers BC provincial transit systems. There is an annual administration fee of $45 for the bus pass.

[For more information, see Related Links – BC Bus Pass Program.]

Medical Services Only

Medical Services Only (MSO) assists certain former income assistance and disability assistance recipients to maintain access to specific health supplements when they no longer qualify for assistance due to certain types of income that exceeds their assistance rates.

[For more information, see Related Links - Medical Services Only.]

Life-Threatening Health Needs

The ministry may provide access to specific medical equipment, medical supplies, or medical transportation to some low-income British Columbians who are not otherwise eligible to access these supports, but who face a direct and imminent life-threatening health need and have no other resources to meet that need. A person is considered eligible as a life-threatening health needs client if the ministry is satisfied that all of the eligibility criteria are met. Once approved as a life-threatening health needs client, the client must meet the eligibility criteria and follow the procedures outlined for the specific supplement that has been requested. 

[For more information, see Related Links – Life-Threatening Health Needs.]