Please click on the acronym to find more information from the Government of Canada.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP): A mandatory, universal pension plan that pays inflation-adjusted benefits based on contributions from the individual and the employer. The contributor can begin receiving a benefit at age 60 (at a 36% lifetime reduction finalized in 2016) if they have ceased employment or have low earnings (the government considers an individual to have ceased employment if s/he is not working at the end of the month prior to when his/her CPP retirement pension begins, and during the month in which the benefit payment begins). However, once the individual reaches age 65, they are eligible to begin collecting the full benefits whether they are retired or not. The contributor also has the option to delay receiving benefits until age 70, which will increase the increments of the annual benefits by 42%. The benefits of CPP can also include retirement, survivor, disability and death benefits These payments are not automatic, the contributor must apply to receive them. As well, the contributor must have made at least one valid CPP contribution to be eligible. For 2013, the maximum monthly benefits beginning at 65 years old is $1,012.50. Quebec has its own program (Quebec Pension Plan, QPP) that has a similar function.
Old Age Security Pension (OAS): Every Canadian over 65 years of age is eligible for this plan. Regardless of whether or not the individual is retired, this benefit is available. Tax must be paid on the received amounts, and those in the higher brackets may end up paying back the whole benefit through clawbacks. The average monthly benefit as of October 2012 is $514.56, and the maximum is $546.07. The maximum individual net income you can receive to receive this benefit without clawbacks is $69,562. After this point, you must pay back 15% of your benefit for every $10 000 you are above the maximum net income. For example, if you are $20 000 above the maximum net income ($89 562), then you will have to pay back 30% of the OAS benefit. The benefits are indexed to the cost of living.
Spouse's Allowance (SPA): A monthly payment designed to either help couples who are living off only one pension, or to help those who have lost their spouse. Benefits are not considered as income when paying taxes.
Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS): A supplement to the OAS pension for those who receive little to no other income. The value of this benefit can fluctuate based on the pensioner's income. This benefit is not subject to taxes.
Provincial Social Security Supplement Programs: For those who receive the GIS, the province may offer additional support to those who are in danger of falling below the province's guaranteed income level.
For more information on what benefits the Government of Canada provides for seniors, please click here.