UPDATED JAN 24, 2019
Many of us focus on retiring by age 65 but the thought of living off the nest egg we’ve built, rather than receiving employment income, can be daunting. Good news. There are many benefits available to help you stretch those dollars and hold on to your retirement dreams. Here are nine financial benefits you can enjoy after turning 65.
1. Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security
The most obvious benefits are the federal Canada Pension Plan (CPP)* and Old Age Security (OAS). Beginning in 2019, the Canada Pension Plan is being gradually enhanced, so you’ll receive higher benefits but will also have to make higher contributions. The CPP enhancement will only affect those who work and make contributions to the CPP in 2019 and beyond.
The maximum CPP payment for 2019 is $1,154.58 per month for people aged 65 who are receiving benefits for the first time. Typically, people start to receive the CPP at age 65. However, you can elect to receive CPP at a reduced amount as early as age 60, or an increased amount if you delay taking the pension after age 65 up to age 70.
The OAS monthly maximum for 2019 is $601.45, and the actual amount is determined by how long you’ve lived in Canada after the age of 18. It’s considered taxable income and subject to a clawback if your individual net annual income is higher than $74,788. You won’t receive this benefit at all if your income is higher than $121,314. In July 2019 the threshold goes up to $75,910 and if your net income is higher than $123,386 you won’t receive any OAS at all. Also, if you’re eligible for tax breaks such as the pension income tax credit and the age amount tax credit for seniors 65 and over, you’ll decrease your tax bill.
Most banks no longer charge fees to seniors on bank accounts, drafts or money orders. They also receive discounts on their safety deposit boxes, or may not be charged a fee if a minimum account balance is maintained. Many credit unions have discounted accounts for seniors, but ATM access is typically more limited.
3. Health and medical expenses
Many drug stores have a Seniors Day, on which they offer a generous discount. Currently, Shoppers Drug Mart offers a 20% discount off regularly priced items (some exclusions apply) every Thursday, to customers who are at least 65 years old. Most stores also offer a program that will call seniors when it is time to renew their prescriptions. Many pharmacies offer senior discounts of at least 10% on non-prescription merchandise, and some even offer a free delivery service to their customers.
Each province or territory offers a unique drug benefit plan to provide seniors with enhanced coverage for high drug costs. For more details, contact your provincial or territorial health care ministry.
4. Products and services
Many big-box stores have a Seniors Day once a month and offer discounted savings for that day. Savings differ by store, and so does the timing of the event.
Many restaurants offer a seniors menu as early as age 55. Selected items provide discounted options compared to the regular menu.
For seniors who are not ready for condo life or apartment living, many companies that offer snow removal or lawn mowing services offer discounted rates for seniors.
Most local transit systems offer seniors special rates from age 65 or earlier. If you’re 60 or over, you can save 10% when travelling on VIA rail on the Economy Plus fare and on regular Sleeper, Sleeper Plus and Touring fares. Get an additional 10% with your CAA card.
Beginning at age 62, you can get a 20% discount on any unrestricted Greyhound fares available. Rental car agencies such as Avis and Hertz offer discounted rates on car or truck rentals beginning at age 50. You can also get senior discounts on some of the smaller airlines, but this list seems to keep changing so check when booking to see if you’re eligible.
A number of hotel chains offer discounted rates or services for seniors worldwide, age 55 and over. Some of these include Best Western, Hyatt, Marriott, Crown Plaza, Omni and Wyndham hotels.
Memberships in groups like the Canadian Automobile Association and the Canadian Association of Retired People offer a whole range of additional discounts on hotels, rental cars and vacation packages.
7. Arts and leisure
Many galleries and museums have special Seniors Days or discounts. Likewise, some movie theatres have reduced pricing for those 65 and over.
There are two types of lifelong learning (or continuing education) opportunities for seniors. You can either pay discounted tuition fees and join younger students in regular credit or non-credit courses, or mingle with other retirees in non-credit, mostly daytime, senior-specific programs.
Several universities will waive all or part of your tuition fees if you’re over 60 and want to return to school. Tuition regulations are province specific, so you should contact the school of your choice to see if the program you’re seeking is eligible for a fee adjustment.
9. Professional dues
If you’re a professional or belong to a trade, you may have to pay hefty annual fees to remain in good standing. For example, Ontario lawyers practicing law full time in 2019 must pay a $2,165.08 licensing fee to the Law Society of Ontario. A non-practicing lawyer will still pay 25% of that fee. However, at age 65, a non-practicing lawyer can apply to be exempt from all future fees and filing requirements.
Learn more about services and discounts available to Canadian seniors.
*The Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) provides similar benefits to residents of Quebec and is also being enhanced starting in 2019.