Allowance for the Survivor: What Is It? How Much? How to Apply? Is It Taxable?

A surviving spouse or common-law partner may be too young to qualify for Old Age Security payments. If the Survivor has a very low income, the Survivor may be eligible for a monthly benefit payment. You should apply for the benefit as soon as possible after the death. If you apply later, you may miss some months’ payment.

The proper name of the amount paid is the Allowance for the Survivor Pension. For this article, I will also call it the Survivor’s Allowance.

The Survivor’s Allowance: Who Does It Go To?
The federal government has a very long list of rules about to whom it will pay the Survivor’s Allowance.

They will only pay if:

  • You are 60 to 64 years of age. (This may change as the age for eligibility for OAS increases to 67 from 65 in the future.)
  • Your spouse or common-law partner has died
  • You have not re-married or entered into a new common-law partnership for more than 12 months after the death.
  • If it was a same-sex relationship, the person must have died on or after January 1, 1998. (This was the rule at the time this article was written.)
  • You are a Canadian citizen or a legal resident of Canada when you apply, or
    you were a Canadian citizen or legal resident when you last resided in Canada.
  • You have lived in Canada for at least 10 years after reaching 18 years of age. (Check for details on this. Canada has agreements with some countries that will entitle you to some benefits even if you have not been here the required 10 years.)
  • You have an annual income below the amount set by the government.

You do not have to be receiving OAS to qualify.

When Will I Stop Getting a Survivor’s Allowance?
Payments will stop when you re-marry, or when you have lived for 12 months in a common-law relationship.

If anyone has any doubts, yes, you do have to let them know when your status changes. Eventually, they will find out that you have re-married. Then you will have to pay back your payments, plus possibly interest and a fine. If you are living common-law, someone will eventually tip them off. It’s better to let them know yourself when your status changes.
Payments will stop when you reach 65. At 65 you may qualify for regular OAS payments. (Note: this age will likely change when the rules moving the start of OAS to 67 begin.)

Payments will also stop if your previous year’s income is too high.

Payments are intended for people living in Canada. If you leave Canada, you will receive payments for the month you leave, and six months after that. Then you will not get any more money. You can re-apply if you move back to Canada.

Renewing Your Survivor’s Allowance Each Year
You do not usually have to re-apply for the Survivor’s Allowance each year. Instead, the federal government uses the information from your income tax return filed by April 30 for the previous year. Make sure you file your tax return!

The government may send you a form for further information. If you do not respond, your payments will stop.

In July of each year, the government will send you a letter stating what, if any, Survivor’s Allowance you will receive each month of the upcoming year, from July to June.

How Much is the Survivor’s Allowance?
As of July 2012, the maximum monthly amount for the Survivor’s Allowance was $1,158.69.

Most people received under $700 per month.

People with an income of $22,248 per year and over did not receive any Survivor’s Allowance.

People with an income under $4,496 per year may receive slightly more benefits.

You can get an estimate of the amount you will receive by going to
Look for Table 5 Allowance amounts for a widowed spouse or common-law partner 60 to 64 years of age (Allowance for the survivor)

Select your income range from the drop-down list, then click on Go to see the estimated monthly benefit.

For example, someone with an annual income between $4464 – 5279.99 would receive between $828.69 – 780.63 per month, including the low income top up amount.

The payments may be increased upwards slightly 4 times a year. This is to help fight the rising costs of living. Luckily, payments will not be decreased if the cost of living goes down. (I’m not sure I remember any time the cost of living actually went down!)

Payment is based on your previous year’s income.

What Counts As My Income for the Previous Year?
If your income is too high, over $22,248 for 2012, you do not qualify for any Survivor’s Allowance.

Your income will be calculated including, but not limited to:
•    Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan benefits
•    private pension income and superannuation
•    foreign pension income
•    RRSPs that you cashed
•    Employment Insurance benefits
•    interest on any savings
•    any capital gains you made or dividends you were paid
•    income from any rental properties
•    any employment income
•    income from other sources such as worker’s compensation payments, alimony, etc.

What if I lose My Job or Other Income and Suddenly Have a Much Lower Income than Last Year?
If you stop working, your income this year could be much smaller than your income last year. Or if a pension stops, your income might also be greatly lower. In some cases, the government will re-calculate your Survivor’s Allowance based on this year’s income instead of last year’s. Contact the government at 1 800 277 9914 (TTY: 1 800 255 4786) for more information on applying for a change.

How Long Will It Take to Get the Survivor’s Allowance?
I hope you don’t need the pension to pay any immediate bills, because it can take 6-12 weeks after application to receive the first cheque. Yes, that’s almost 3 months!

The earliest the first eligible payment is for the month after the death. You must have applied and meet all the other rules for that to be the first month.

Your first payment could be received the month after you turn 60, if the person has died and you have applied and meet all the rules.

What happens if you are eligible for a payment the month after the death, but it takes them 12 weeks to approve your application? The government will send you the back payments for up to 11 months. But only 11 months. So if you apply, say, 18 months after the death, you could lose forever 7 or more months’ payments. Apply as soon as you can.

Once they begin, payments are made monthly, on one of the last three banking days of the month.

You can have the pension directly deposited to your bank account. If you want this, be sure to fill out that part of the application form and submit the required banking information or a void cheque. If you have signed up for direct deposit, the dates of the deposits are posted online at
Basically it’s near the very end of the month.

Is the Allowance for the Survivor Taxable? Thank Goodness It’s Not!
Unlike many government payments, this monthly payment is not taxable. The Survivor receiving the benefit does not have to save some of the payment to pay a tax bill.

You will receive a tax form from the government by mail each year which states how much Allowance for the Survivor you received. Although you do not pay tax on this benefit, you do report it on your annual tax return.

Change of Address
Be sure to update the address to mail the cheques to if anything changes.
Call the voice message service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1 800 277 9914 (TTY: 1 800 255 4786).

Provide your
•    full name
•    date of birth
•    social insurance number,
•    previous address
•    new address and postal code, and
•    telephone number including area code.

Name Change for the Benefit
The Allowance for the Survivor used to be called the Widowed Spouse’s Allowance.

How to Apply for the Allowance for the Survivor
Who Should Fill Out the Form
The surviving spouse or common-law partner should complete the form.

If they are unable to do so, their representative may do so. For example, if a surviving spouse is unable to fill out the forms, the person who handles their finances can fill it out on their behalf. The payments will be made to the Survivor, though, not to the person who fills out the forms.

Where Can One Get the Allowance for the Survivor Application Form
The application form is on the Government website at

If you can stand voice activated telephone systems, you can call and order a kit from the government at 1 800 277 9914 (TTY: 1 800 255 4786). Those are also the numbers to call for assistance.

What Do I Need to Fill Out the Allowance for the Survivor Application Form
The person completing the form will need

  • a certified copy of the Death Certificate.
    If there is no Death Certificate, there is a list of acceptable alternate documents in the application kit.
  • a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate, if the Survivor was married to the person who died.
    Staff at any Service Canada Centre will photocopy your documents and certify them free of charge. You can also get any of a large number of professionals to certify your documents. For example, a doctor, pharmacist, engineer, police officer, bank manager, etc. The complete list is in the application kit.
    The certifier is just asked to make sure the photocopy is the same as the original (for example, that no one changed the date of death or the name of the deceased). The certifier then provides contact information, a sentence saying the copy is correct, and a signature. Check the application form kit for the details.
  • A Statutory Declaration if you were not married but were living in a Common-Law relationship with the person who died. A common-law partner is a person of any sex who has been living with another in a conjugal relationship for at least one year.
    The form for the Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (CPP) can be found online at
  • the Social Insurance Number (SIN) for the person who died.
    The government uses this number to look up the records for the person who died, to calculate how much benefit is owed.
  • the Survivor’s Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • a Statement of Income for the Survivor. Fill out form ISP 3025 located at
  • If you were not born in Canada, you will have to provide proof of your Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • If you have not lived continuously in Canada, you will have to provide proof of when you were resident in Canada. This proof is often a passport or passports.
  • a Void Cheque or Banking Information for Direct Deposit of the Pension
    If you prefer the monthly pension to be deposited directly in your account, you will need to provide information about the account on the application form. If it is a chequing account, you can provide a blank cheque with the word VOID written across it so that it cannot be used or cashed. See the application kit for details.

The Survivor may have to provide a certified copy of their own birth certificate if their Social Insurance Number does not provide enough proof to the government of their date of birth.

How Does Receiving this Allowance Affect My Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
GIS is a monthly benefit to help extremely low income seniors. The Allowance for the Survivor is income. GIS payments may be reduced if the Allowance increases your total income.

Still Need Some More Information on the Allowance for the Survivor?
For surprisingly readable more information, you can check the Federal Government website at:

32 thoughts on “Allowance for the Survivor: What Is It? How Much? How to Apply? Is It Taxable?

  1. I am 58 yrs. old. My husband passed away this year. I still work full time but not in the best of health. I am thinking of slowing down when I turn 60 but I am worried of not being able to support myself. I don’t have any savings and only have been working for 10 yrs. as I was a stay @ home mom and consequently look after my husband who was ill for a while. Will i be eligible for a survivor’s allowance?

    • I’m very sorry to hear about your husband. I hope you are coping ok.

      I can’t answer your question but I can suggest you contact Service Canada to find out exactly what you are eligible to receive. Their phone numbers and addresses are at

      For example, you may be entitled to the Allowance for the Survivor when you are between 60 and 65, and also a portion of your husband’s CPP if he paid into it over the years.

      Some of the factors that will matter include
      * whether you and your husband lived in Canada your entire lives or whether you moved to Canada from another country
      * whether you and your husband contributed to the Canada Pension Plan and for how long and on what income each year

      Whether you can receive the Allowance for the Survivor also depends on what total other income you receive each year from pensions, interest on savings, rental income if you rent a room etc. They check your income each year to decide if you will continue to receive it.

      The Survivor’s Allowance only is available from age 60 to 65. After that, though, you may be eligible to receive OAS or GIS.

      I encourage you to try to contact Service Canada. They really are there to help. And, again, I’m sorry to hear your news.

  2. Good day! I am a widow. My husband tragically passed away several months ago after an acident. He has been hospitalised for three months, and I was day and night there. Now, I have only debts for medical bill. Please clarify, whether I am iligable to at least temporary residence in Canada, any survivor’s benefit or some other assistance from Canada.
    Thank you in advance. Irena

  3. P.S. I didn’t mention, that my husband was canadian citizen, he lived in Canada for 25 years, graduated from the University, but then relocated to Greece, his mother-land country. And I live in Israel, where we lived several years together as a couple. No common kids.


    • I’m very sorry to hear about your husband.

      I’m just an every-day taxpayer in Canada so I am not qualified to answer your specific questions. (I don’t work for the government.) You’d have to contact the Canadian government’s Service Canada department. You can read how to reach the department at .

      I suspect if there is any benefit available it will be very small. The CPP survivor benefits, for example, are based on how many years a Canadian worked and paid into the CPP. If your husband was here for the first 25 years of his life, rather than in the middle, he may have only worked for a few years and paid very little into the CPP program. Even if he worked 40 years in Canada at the highest possible salary the benefits are only a few hundred Canadian dollars a month.

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

  4. hi I am receiving allowance for survivor amounted of $ 1198.52, Is there any other benefits that I can apply TOGETHER to get more money for living expense?



    • I’m sorry to hear of your loss.

      I don’t work for the government at all, so I am not able to answer your question accurately.

      If you are receiving the full possible CPP for the date you started receiving CPP, then you likely will not get any more. The maximum paid is the equivalent of one full CPP pension.

      However, I’d hate anyone not to get the money they are entitled to!

      I’d suggest that you may wish to call Service Canada to check the details.
      They can be contacted at 1-800-277-9914

      They would need to know your social insurance number and your spouse’s social insurance number and so on to check eligibility.

      The number to call for Retirement Pension, Disability Benefits, Death Benefit, Children’s Benefits, Survivor’s Pension is
      Toll-Free: 1-800-277-9914

  5. If your spouse dies when you are 59 years old you do not qualify for the Allowance for the Survivor. Do you then have a chance to qualify when you turn 60 years of age? Thank you.

    • To be honest, I’m not sure. You may want to phone them to check at Toll-Free: 1-800-277-9914.
      I hope it is possible to apply at 60 but I’m not clear on that.

  6. My husband is 64 with a terminal illness. Doctors don’t think he has long. I am 60. He is a Canadian citizen- lived and worked in Canada.

    I’ve looked online for info – its not that clear. I phoned gov.t office – they say he has to be 65 in order for Allowance for Survivor to be paid.

    Have you heard of Allowance for Survivor paid to someone whose husband died at 64?
    Thanks for info

    • I’m very sorry to hear about your husband’s illness. I can’t find any information that says your husband has to be any age in particular for you to qualify for the Allowance for the Survivor. Did someone advise you that he had to be 65? The payment is only made if your total income is very low and if you are between 60-64, but I haven’t seen anything that says he has to have been a certain age at the time of his passing. (The details are at:

      I would try to call the government again on your behalf but it is not office hours right now.

      Once again, I’m sorry to hear of your husband’s illness.

      • Hi, I think I can answer this question. My husband passed away at age 57. When I reached 60, I was sent an application for allowance for the survivor because he would have been 66 if he had survived.
        If your husband passes at 64, you will have to wait a year to apply. (until he would have been 65 if he’d survived.)

        • I’m not sure exactly how this works but Service Canada is quite friendly to talk to on the phone to check the details.
          Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m sorry to hear that your husband passed away so young.

    • Hello, I’ve checked further with Service Canada. It should not matter what age a spouse, in this case your husband is, when he passes away. It matters whether the surviving person is 60-64 and whether they have a very low income.

      I think the confusion is coming from a different benefit with a very similar name. If your spouse is living and you both have a very low income, and you are between 60-64 (and therefore not yet eligible for your own OAS cheque) there is a “Allowance” that you can receive if he is alive and is receiving OAS and GIS. Of course, for him to receive OAS he has to be at least 65. That is probably why someone said your husband had to be 65. But that benefit is for while he is alive and you both are very low income. That is not the benefit you were trying to check up on.

      So you should be eligible for the Allowance for the Survivor if you are 60-64 when your husband passes away.

    • The Service Canada website says
      “Service Canada will inform you in writing whether your application was approved or not, or whether additional information or documentation is required to make a decision on your application.” So you won’t receive any payment until after you receive a letter from them.

      If you want to contact Service Canada, their website lists the following contact information:

      Old Age Security (OAS)

      Old Age Security Pension, Allowance Program, Allowance for the Survivor, Guaranteed Income Supplement.

      Toll-Free: 1-800-277-9914
      TTY: 1-800-255-4786
      Callers outside Canada and the United States can call collect: 613-957-1954, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

      I don’t work for the government so I cannot personally provide any information. Sorry!

  7. My husband passsed away ladt april 2015. I receive a widows pension. But only just heard about the allowance for surviour. I had no idea of this !!!! I have just fillled. Out the forms. Can this be. Retroactive. Back from his date of death?

    • I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your husband.

      According to the Service Canada website, payments of the allowance for the survivor will begin:
      “up to 11 months prior to the date we received your application (if you applied after your 60th birthday).”

      I think that means that if you apply now, and if you were between 60 and 64 on the date of his death in April 2015, you would be eligible for retroactive payments for 11 months from today, provided of course your income was also low enough to be entitled to this benefit and you meet the other criteria. (The benefit does not begin until you are at least 60 and ends at the end of the first entire month that you are 65.)

      Therefore, the sooner you apply, the better, if you are between 60-64.

      If you have questions, you can call Service Canada. Their toll-free phone number is given on their Contact Us page under the Old Age Security section.

  8. Thankyou for your response. I have another question. I receive the widows pension. and was wondering that if i get the allowance for the surviour do they deduct from my widow pension or do i receive both? Thankyou

    • I believe it is the other way around. I think you receive less Allowance for the Survivor if you have other sources of income such as a CPP payment for a deceased spouse. The Allowance is meant to bring income up to a small annual minimum amount during the years 60-64 and is replaced by OAS when a person turns 65.

  9. Hello, I have been widowed since Feb. 2016. I applied in Feb. and to date July 24 2016 . I have been told it can take up to 35 wks. to process. Any insight into this long waiting period. Is there something going on with the govt. that a widow with no money or income has to wait this long. It seems inhumane, I will be living on the streets soon. I am eligible for this benefit.

    • I am sorry to hear your husband has died. I don’t work for or with the government or any agency, so I have no info to offer about the processing time. I do know that the Allowance payment is quite small, so I hope you have been able to find work. You may want to check with social services about any other income support programs available in your province such as Ontario Works, etc. I hope that things improve for you soon.

    • I applied initially mid Dec. 2015. Submitted more requested documents mid Feb. 2016. Was told they were very backlogged with this benefit and could take approximately 35 weeks and even longer if applying in 2016. Not sure which year applies to me but I am still waiting!

      • Wow that sounds awful! I hope you are checking with them periodically to ensure it’s just waiting for processing and not mislaid. I hope you get an answer soon!

  10. hi, i been a widow for 16 years and now i just turn 60 since then i never stop working to support my two small children 11 and 5 which now is all grown up thanks to our lord jesus or thanks to mysellf and did not lost any hope in life for i been left with nothing because he never had any life insurance or anything it happens that we are just simple poor beings on this planet. anyways since i been recieving 423.34 for a widow pension my question is am i eligible for survivors allowance?

    • I’m sorry you lost your husband and congratulations on raising your children–you must be very strong and proud!

      The survivor’s allowance is a very small payment intended to help bring a person’s annual income up to a minimum. It will depend on how much other income you have whether you will qualify. All I can suggest is that you apply and see. They will tell you if you are eligible or not based on your income. (If you had $23 424 in income you will likely not be eligible for any payment.)

  11. my husband died in 1975 – I have just heard of the survivor allowance.

    I had remarried 5 years after his death and since divorced.

    My income meets the required amount (very low).

    does the marriage mentioned above exclude me from the allowance?

    • I’m sorry to hear that things have been difficult for you.

      Unfortunately, I think the re-marriage does exclude you from receiving any payment. You may want to phone Service Canada to ask, though. I don’t work for the government so I’m certainly not an expert on the details.

  12. I am under 60 and currently receive a survivor pension for my late husband. I will soon be 60 and have therefore applied for the “allowance for the survivor” along with my own “very minimal” CPP. I am unable to work due to disability and receive a provincial disability pension. I called CPP to see what my income may look like after age 60 and was given an amount but not an explanation as to what calculations are used for them to arrive at this amount. Is my survivor pension deducted from my allowance for the survivor. I am very curious about how the calculations are arrived at. Thanks

    • I’m sorry to hear you have lost your husband. Unfortunately, since I do not work for the government, I’m not sure how the details will work out for you. You should phone Service Canada and ask them to explain it more clearly if you can. Generally, the Allowance for the Survivor is intended to raise a person’s income to a certain level. If the person has other sources of income, such as their own CPP, their spouse’s CPP survivor benefit, any other pensions or payments, those amounts will count towards the minimum income level. So the allowance for the survivor will only top up from that level to the intended minimum. Depending on how large your other pensions are you may or may not receive a full or partial allowance for the survivor.

      At 65, you will likely qualify for OAS, if you have been in Canada for more than 10 years since you turned 18. At that time, the allowance for the survivor stops and your personal OAS begins.

      When you talk to Service Canada you may want to check whether you should be applying for CPP at age 60 or for some sort of CPP disability payment. I do not know if you would qualify for a CPP disability amount or not, but you should check the details if you haven’t already.

      I wish I could offer some help but I’m just a taxpayer who is trying to help some friends and relatives with these types of problems, not a government employee.

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