Are you thinking about your retirement years and wondering what government benefits you may receive? It’s not a bad idea since retirement can come faster than you think. If you’re worried that you may not have enough income in your senior years, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the federal government through the guaranteed income supplement (GIS).

We’re here to explain what GIS is, the eligibility requirements, how you can apply for GIS, and the amount you can expect to receive. Plus, we’ll go over how this benefit will affect you during tax season and what you need to know before you file.

Key Takeaways
  1. The guaranteed income supplement (GIS) is a nontaxable payment that is part of the old age security (OAS) benefit to help provide financial assistance to low-income seniors.
  2. To qualify for the GIS, your annual household income must be less than a specific threshold and you must be eligible for the OAS.
  3. Be sure to file your tax return on time to avoid any delays in receiving your GIS payments.

What is the guaranteed income supplement (GIS)?

Low-income seniors who receive the old age security (OAS) pension may be eligible to receive the monthly guaranteed income supplement (GIS). It’s important to calculate your potential GIS amount alongside your Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and OAS amounts, to ensure that you can support your lifestyle during your golden years.

What’s the difference between OAS and GIS?

Although both the OAS and GIS are designed to support you financially during your retirement years, the two have different purposes. The GIS provides financial assistance to low-income seniors, whereas the OAS is available to seniors regardless of their employment history.

It’s easy to see why people often get them mixed up as they do share similarities. For instance, both the OAS and the GIS are available for Canadian citizens or legal residents who are 65 years or older. Further, the GIS is a monthly payment that you can receive alongside your OAS payment.

How do I qualify for the GIS?

Curious to know what the GIS eligibility requirements are? In order to qualify:

  • You’re a Canadian citizen or a legal resident.
  • You need to receive the OAS pension.
  • You must live in Canada for at least 6 months every year.
  • You must be over 65 years old and have an annual income below a certain threshold.

If you’re a sponsored immigrant who has lived in Canada for less than 10 years after turning 18, you can’t receive the GIS unless you meet specific criteria. However, if you’re an immigrant who isn’t sponsored, you can qualify for the GIS, as long as you’re receiving the OAS as well.

To be sure of your GIS eligibility, it’s always best to consult a CRA representative who can assess your specific situation and guide you.

How do I apply for the GIS?

If you’re already receiving your OAS amount, you don’t need to apply for the GIS. That makes for one less thing to worry about! Usually, the month after you turn 64, you’ll receive a letter from the Government of Canada that informs you of when you can start receiving payments.

However, you may still need to apply for the GIS if you’ve never received it with your OAS payment amounts, if the letter has incorrect information, or the letter asks you to apply.

You can apply for the GIS either online—through Service Canada, with a My Service Canada Account (MSCA)—or by sending in a paper application, which can be found here.

How to calculate the OAS amount

In the table below, you can see what your potential monthly OAS amount may be:

Your age

Your annual net world income

The OAS maximum monthly payment amount

65 to 74

Less than $142,609


75 and over

Less than $148,179


To determine your OAS amount, you can use the old age security (OAS) estimator.

Note, if you lived in Canada for a minimum of 10 years but less than 40 years (after you turned 18), then you’ll get a partial OAS pension. In this case, it’s best to contact Service Canada to determine what your payments will be.

How to calculate the GIS amount

To determine your GIS amount, you’ll need to know what is considered “income” for GIS. Essentially, the government considers both your and your spouse’s or common-law partner’s income when it calculates how much you can get each month.

Another factor is whether your spouse or partner receives the Allowance benefit as part of their GIS. Also, if neither of you qualifies for OAS nor the GIS, the other will receive a larger monthly amount to make up for it.


You and your spouse/partner’s combined annual income

The GIS maximum income monthly amount

You are single, divorced, or widowed

Less than $21,624


Your spouse or partner receives the full OAS pension amount

Less than $28,560


Your spouse or partner receives the Allowance benefit

Less than $39,984


Your spouse or partner does not receive an OAS pension or Allowance

Less than $51,840


To be eligible, you and your spouse’s combined yearly income must be below a certain amount—an amount determined by the Canadian government each year. According to the listed GIS amounts for 2024, single, divorced, or widowed pensioners can receive up to $1,065.47 each month, if their annual income falls below $21,624.

If you have a spouse or a common-law partner, the monthly payment and income amounts will vary based on a few factors, such as whether they receive the full OAS pension or Allowance.

How to calculate the Allowance

As part of receiving the OAS, you may also qualify to receive the Allowance—which is a nontaxable monthly payment of up to $1,354.69. Keep in mind that unlike the GIS, you will need to apply for the Allowance benefit typically 6 to 11 months before you turn age 60. You may be eligible if you are 60 to 64 years old, live in Canada, have a spouse or common-law partner who is eligible for the GIS, and you and your spouse have a combined yearly income below $39,984.

If you’re a surviving spouse between the ages of 60 and 64, you could receive an allowance of up to $1,614.89 per month, if your annual income is less than $29,112.

When do I receive my first GIS payment?

You’ll start to receive your GIS payments the month after you turn 65 (another reason to celebrate your birthday!). The specific dates are set by the government. (See the schedule below.)

If the date passes and you still haven’t received your payment, contact the government to identify the reason why.

Keep in mind that if you’ve chosen to defer your OAS payments until age 70, you will not receive your GIS payments until you start receiving your OAS amounts.

When are the GIS payment dates?

Once you’re qualified, you may wonder when your GIS payments will start coming in. Well, the schedule is updated every year, but you can expect them monthly. Here are the GIS payment dates for 2024:

  • January 29
  • February 27
  • March 26
  • April 26
  • May 29
  • June 26
  • July 29
  • August 28
  • September 25
  • October 29
  • November 27
  • December 20

If you qualify for GIS, it will be sent to you along with your OAS pension amount. You’ll receive one payment that combines both amounts.

In order to get your payments, you need to file your taxes and pay any tax balances on time. If you’ve missed your due dates, it may lead to delays in receiving your monthly GIS payments. So make sure that you’re following the deadlines to avoid this.

What happens if my situation changes?

If one of the following situations occurs, it could change your GIS amount:

  • You are leaving Canada for more than 6 months.
  • Your marital status changes—for example, you get married, separated, or divorced, or your spouse or common-law partner passes away.
  • Your annual income, or that of your spouse or common-law partner, is lower due to retirement or a reduction in pension income.
  • You and your spouse or common-law partner are living separately for reasons outside your control, such as a hospital stay or residency in a nursing home.
  • You or your spouse/common-law partner are serving a sentence of 2 or more years in a federal prison.

If any one of the above applies, be sure to contact Service Canada so they can recalculate your future benefit amounts.

Do I need to pay taxes on the GIS?

You do not need to pay taxes on the GIS. The GIS is nontaxable, which means it won’t be considered part of your taxable income when you file your taxes. That being said, you should still report your GIS earnings when filing your return, because it’s used to determine if you’re eligible for other government benefits.

How do I report the GIS on my taxes?

Reporting your GIS earnings on your tax return is straightforward. You can find the GIS amounts on box 21 of your T4 (OAS) slip. You should report this alongside your OAS amounts when filing your return.

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