The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a benefit paid to eligible seniors who have reached 65 years of age and who meet a basic income test.
Despite having collected OAS for a few years, I did not know about having to enroll in the GIS program.
To receive GIS benefits, you and your spouse/common-law partner must be enrolled with Service Canada and authorize CRA to provide your income information to determine your eligibility for the GIS.
Service Canada recently implemented a process to automatically enroll seniors who are eligible to receive the GIS. If you can be automatically enrolled, Service Canada will send you a notification letter the month after you turn 64. However, you will not necessarily be automatically enrolled in which case you will have to apply.
If your OAS pension has been approved and you are not enrolled to receive the GIS, you must apply for the GIS. There is no disadvantage to applying. If you do not immediately qualify for the GIS, Service Canada will review your income information every year and you will be automatically paid a GIS benefit if you become entitled, as long as you file your income tax return annually with the CRA. You could only be eligible to receive a retroactive payment up to a maximum of 11 months of GIS from the date Service Canada receives your application, so if there is any possibility of becoming eligible for GIS, you should apply.
Melina is 75 years of age, a Canadian citizen, and a resident of Canada who has never applied for GIS benefits. So, although Melina may qualify to receive GIS benefits, she has not enrolled and is not eligible to receive GIS benefits.