Spousal CPP and OAS benefits

Region: Ontario Answer # 1737

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provides CPP contributors and their families with a partial replacement of their earnings in the case of retirement, disability or death. The CPP operates throughout Canada, except in Quebec, where the Québec Pension Plan (QPP) provides similar benefits. Old Age Security (OAS) is a benefit paid monthly to most Canadians aged 65 or older and may include the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for low-income individuals.

If you are a spouse, common-law partner, or child of a CPP or OAS recipient you may be entitled to a number of related benefits.

Survivor’s pension

Survivor pension benefits are paid to the person who, at the time of the CPP contributor’s death, is the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased. You may also qualify if you are a separated legal spouse and the deceased had no cohabiting common-law partner.

The amount you may receive will depend on:

  • whether you are also receiving a CPP disability benefit or retirement pension,
  • your age, and
  • how much, and for how long, the deceased contributor has paid into the CPP.

Death benefit

The CPP death benefit is a one-time, lump-sum payment made to the estate on behalf of a CPP contributor who has died. The executor named in the deceased Will or the administrator named by the Court to administer the estate must apply for the death benefit.

However, if the executor has not applied for the death benefit, or there is no estate, the benefit may be paid to other persons who may apply for the benefit – in the following order of priority:

  • the person or institution that has paid for or that is responsible for paying for the funeral expenses of the deceased;
  • the surviving spouse or common-law partner of the deceased; or
  • the next-of-kin of the deceased.

In order for the death benefit to be paid, the deceased must have made contributions to the CPP the lesser of:

  • one-third of the calendar years in their CPP contributory period, but no less than 3 calendar years; or
  • 10 calendar years.

The amount of the benefit depends on how much and for how long the CPP contributions were made.

Pension sharing

Couples who are married or living common-law and are in an ongoing relationship may voluntarily share their CPP retirement pensions.

Credit splitting for divorced or separated couples

After a divorce or separation, you and your spouse or common-law partner may equally divide the CPP contributions you both made during the time you lived together. This is known as credit splitting.

GIS Allowance benefit

If you are the spouse or common-law partner of someone who is receiving the GIS benefit, you may be eligible to receive the GIS Allowance benefit if:

  • you are between 60 to 64 years old,
  • your spouse or common-law partner is receiving the OAS pension, and is eligible for the GIS,
  • you are a Canadian citizen or resident,
  • you live in Canada and have done so for at least ten years since the age of 18, and
  • you and your spouse’s (or common-law partner’s) combined income is less than the maximum amount which is set by the government every year.

GIS Allowance for the Survivor benefit

You may be eligible for Allowance for the Survivor benefits if:

  • your spouse or common-law partner is deceased and you have not remarried or entered into a common-law relationship,
  • you are between 60 to 64 years old,
  • you are a Canadian citizen or resident,
  • you live in Canada and have done so for at least ten years since the age of 18, and
  • your yearly income is less than the maximum annual amount.

The amount of the Allowance benefit or the Allowance for the Survivor benefit you will receive is determined by your income or your combined income (whichever is applicable), up-to the government’s set maximum annual amount threshold.

For more information about government pensions and retirement benefits for individuals and their families, visit canada.ca.


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