The actual application for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension is really quite simple. However there are a lot of things you should find out about, learn about, and decide, before you apply.
What is the CPP Retirement Pension?
The CPP retirement pension is a government pension based on workers' earnings and contributions. Just about everybody over the age of 18 who works in Canada (except in Quebec) contributes to the CPP. (In Quebec, the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) is similar.) The CPP is planned to cover about 25 percent of pre-retirement earnings from work. Other pensions, savings and interest income are expected to make up the other 75 percent of your retirement income.
Who is Eligible for a CPP Retirement Pension?
In theory, you must have made at least one valid contribution to the CPP. Contributions are based on employment income between a set minimum and maximum. How much and how long you contribute to the CPP affects the amount of your pension benefits. Service Canada maintains a Statement of Contributions and can provide an estimate of what your pension would be if you were eligible to take it now. Register for and visit My Service Canada Account to see and print a copy.
You can also get a copy by writing to:
Contributor Client Services
Canada Pension Plan
PO Box 9750 Postal Station T
Ottawa ON K1G 3Z4
The standard age to start receiving a CPP retirement pension is 65. You can receive a reduced pension at the age of 60 and an increased pension if you delay starting your pension until after the age of 65. You can see some of the changes that are taking place in the reductions and increases in CPP retirement pensions in the article Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Changes.
What You May Need to Learn
There are numerous situations that can affect your CPP retirement pension, and some may increase your pension income. Some of those are:
- child rearing provision - if you stopped working or received a lower income as the primary caregiver of your children under the age of seven, you can request this provision, which could increase your retirement pension.
- pension sharing with your spouse or common-law partner could mean tax savings for you.
- credit splitting - after a divorce or separation, CPP contributions made by you and your spouse or common-law partner may be equally divided.
- international social security agreements - living and working in another country may have made you eligible for a pension due to an international agreement between Canada and that country.
How to Apply for the CPP Retirement Pension
You must apply for the CPP retirement pension. It is not automatic.
For your application to be eligible
- you must be at least a month past your 59th birthday
- you must have contributed to the CPP
- you must want your pension payments to begin within 11 months.
You can apply online. This is really a two-part process. You can submit your application electronically. However you must print and sign a Signature Page which you then must sign and mail to Service Canada.
Don't miss the detailed information sheet that comes with the application form.
After You Apply for the CPP Retirement Pension
You can expect to receive your first CPP payment approximately eight weeks after Service Canada receives your application.
Service Canada has further useful information you should know once you start receiving your benefits.