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Little-known Canadian Benefit Programs – III (Seniors)

In the previous post, we touched upon a few of the federal disability benefit programs available to Canadian residents, while the first post of this series discussed about federal student benefit programs. This week, we’ll continue the series by looking at some other programs available.

Allowance Program (Seniors)

Low-income seniors between the ages of 60 and 64 whose spouse or common-law partner is eligible for or receiving the OAS pension and GIS can apply for this monthly non-taxable benefit. The beneficiary must be a Canadian citizen or legal resident and have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after they turned 18. The annual income of the applicant and their spouse must be below the designated limit, which can be found from these tables.

Allowance for the Survivor Program

This monthly non-taxable allowance is available to low-income widowed spouses who are not yet eligible for the OAS pension. The widowed spouse must not have remarried or formed a common-law relationship for more than 12 months; the other eligibility criteria are the same as the Allowance Program. Application forms for both allowances can be found here.

Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence (HASI)

The HASI program provides monetary assistance to low-income seniors for minor home adaptations that will help them carry out their routine activities in their home independently and in a safe manner. Adaptations that qualify must be those related to their loss of ability and be permanently fixed to the home. These changes must improve approach to essential facilities and enhance safety for the senior.

Some qualifying examples include handrails and lever handles on doors, while non-eligible examples are portable aids such as walkers. Homeowners and landlords can apply under this program if the resident senior is 65 years of age or over and uses the dwelling as their permanent residence. The resident must be limited in carrying out their routine activities due to age-related loss of ability and the total household income must be at or below the prescribed income limit for that area.

Income Assistance Program

The Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Income Assistance Program is designed to provide eligible recipients living on reserves with the avenue to meet the basic necessities of food, shelter, and clothing. The program also covers other special needs, which are essential but not classified as basic, such as special diets, guide dogs, child care and accommodation, children’s school and winter clothing, funerals and burials. Expenses related to pre-employment activities may also be considered for monetary support.

Eligible recipients are persons who usually live on a reserve and in the case of children in joint custody, those who spend more than 50% of their time on a reserve. Students are also eligible if they are registered full-time in a post-secondary institution and are recipients of federal, band or Aboriginal organization educational funding.

International Pension Benefits

Delivered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada using the social security agreement that Canada has with other countries, the International Benefits program is meant to offer retirement, disability, or survivor benefits to eligible persons who have lived or been employed in another country. This benefit is also extensible to a surviving spouse, common-law partner, or children of eligible recipients. Due to the difference in pension agreements with each country, the foreign benefits offered may vary according to each country’s program; please refer to this Service Canada Country Selector page for more details.

Have you taken advantage of any of these income assistance programs? If so, how did you learn about them?

About the Author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism.  You can read his other articles here.

One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. Jungle

    Wow I had no clue they had these benefits.. makes Canada look like such a giving country (and taxed heavily). But this is releiving for me, as some family could apply for some of these benefits in the future.


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