You need a secure income in your later years to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle as you age. The federal and provincial governments provide a wide range of programs to help seniors maintain a good quality of life.
Find out about benefits you are eligible for, what age you can receive them, and other options. You must apply to receive these benefits.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
If you have contributed to CPP, you are eligible to apply as early as age 60, but your payments will be less than if you wait until age 65. You can delay payments as late as age 70 and receive a higher pension.
If you spent time out of the work force or had lower earnings to raise children, you may be able to increase your pension amount. Apply at least six months before you want your benefit to begin.
Old Age Security (OAS)
Old Age Security pension is available to eligible Canadian seniors. If your net world income after retirement is more than the set threshold ($72,809 for 2015), your OAS pension will be less.
Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
This is a monthly non-taxable benefit for residents of Canada who get the OAS pension and have incomes below the “maximum annual income” (do not include the OAS payment when calculating income).
BC Senior’s Supplement
The Senior’s Supplement is a monthly payment for low-income BC residents who receive OAS and GIS or federal allowances. You do not need to apply for the Senior’s Supplement; it is paid automatically to eligible recipients.
MSP Premium Assistance
In BC, premiums are payable for Medical Service Plan (MSP) coverage and are based on family size and income. BC residents with incomes less than $30,000 a year can get some or all of the cost of MSP premiums covered.
PharmaCare offers plans to help with costs for prescription drugs and certain medical supplies. Most seniors are covered under the Fair PharmaCare plan.
Fair PharmaCare is income-based. You can register for Fair PharmaCare even if you have a private or federal plan as Fair PharmaCare may cover costs that other plans do not. Registration is free. There are no premiums to pay.
Other PharmaCare plans include: Plan B for Permanent Residents of Residential Care; Plan C for those who were receiving Income Assistance before receiving a federal pension; and Plan P for those who wish to receive palliative care at home.
Did You Know?
Many seniors haven’t heard about benefits available to them. Check the Housing section for information on help with home improvements or affordable housing and help for renters, and see our article on Property Tax Assistance for ways to reduce or defer property tax payments.
Discounts for seniors in BC include:
Senior Driver Discounts and Benefits
If you own and drive a car or other vehicle, you may be eligible for these discounts and benefits:
- ICBC Autoplan insurance discounts and savings
- ICBC discounted driver's license renewal fees
- Special parking permits for people with a permanent or temporary disability
- Veterans’ license plates
Senior camping discounts for British Columbia residents 65 years of age and older are available from the day after Labour Day to June 14 of the following year. During peak season (June 15 – Labour Day) there are no seniors’ discounts.
BC Ferries Fares
BC senior passengers may travel on most routes at 50 per cent off regular adult fare, Monday through Thursday, except certain holidays. You must present a BC Services Card, a BC Gold Care Card (age 65 or greater), a BC Driver's License, a BC Identification Card, or a Birth Certificate. If you are presenting a Birth Certificate, proof of residency in BC is required. The discount does not apply to drivers.
Did You Know?
You can contribute to your RRSP until the year you turn 71. Withdrawals from your RRSP in your retirement will be treated as taxable income.