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
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/isp/oas/tabrates/tabmain.shtml
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 http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/isp/common/paydates.shtml
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
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/cgi-bin/search/eforms/index.cgi?app=profile&form=isp1200&lang=e

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 http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/cgi-bin/search/eforms/index.cgi?app=prfl&frm=isp3104cpp&ln=eng
  • 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 http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/cgi-bin/search/eforms/index.cgi?app=lst&grp=oas&ln=eng
  • 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:
http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/sc/oas/allowance/survivorallowance.shtml

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