Old-age security top-up for low-income seniors to be automatic

OTTAWA — Low-income seniors will no longer have to apply for an income top-up under a newly launched program to automatically sign them up for the benefit payments.

From now on, seniors who automatically enrolled for old-age security benefits will also be automatically considered for the guaranteed income supplement based on their tax filings.

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Benefits will begin to flow to eligible, low-income seniors beginning one month after they turn 65.

The federal government said it expects up to 17,000 seniors will become eligible for the supplement each month, either by cheque or through direct deposit, depending on how they receive their Canada Pension Plan payments.

The government began automatically enrolling eligible seniors for old-age security benefits in May 2013.

The first wave of the program targeted Canadians who at age 64 — one year before they are eligible to receive old-age security payments — easily met eligibility requirements.

A second phase was launched in November 2016 to include a wider net of applicants.

Employment and Social Development Canada said Tuesday that more than 60 per cent of new old-age security beneficiaries have been signed up through the process since its launch.

An internal government review found only one error out of 1,200 people in the first phase of the automatic enrolment, due to an incorrect date of birth.

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