Turning 65: Easing financial transitions for older tenants
Older adults living on very low incomes may be unclear on how and when to transition to old age pensions, according to some advocates, such as policy critic John Stapleton. People who receive Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) will transition to Old Age Security benefits on their 65th birthday, which means the application process starts while tenants are still 64. In many cases older adults will receive more money on Old Age Security and GIS, than they were eligible for with ODSP.
What are the four main government programs?
- Old Age Security: is the largest Canadian pension program. Service Canada began auto enrolment in 2013, and seniors should expect a letter in the mail one month after their 64th birthday. Enrolment forms are available through Service Canada, if a letter is not received.
- Guaranteed Income Supplement: is a monthly supplement that is available for low-income seniors. This requires a separate enrolment, and can take 17 weeks to be processed. Therefore eligible tenants will need to apply before their 65th birthday for a seamless transition.
- Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program: allows pharmacists to process prescriptions the first day of the month, after a senior’s 65th birthday.
- Seniors Co-payment program: allows low-income seniors to pay a reduced co-pay for their medications under the ODB. They will have to fill out a separate registration form to be enrolled in this program.
Who is responsible for enrolling seniors in these programs?
Provincial level: Case workers for ODSP and OW should be available to help aging tenants enroll in Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Federal level: Service Canada should auto-enroll tenants in Old Age Security when they turn 64, and send out the necessary documentation to older adults. This auto-enrolment does not include the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Organizational level: RGI administrators, housing support workers, or intensive case managers (depending on the context of your organization), should also make sure that tenants are receiving the support or information that they need. Guaranteed Income Supplement can take up to 17 weeks to be processed.
What if tenants miss important registration dates?
ODSP has a three-month period of flexibility after Tenants are eligible for Old Age Security. If this deadline is lapsed, there could be a risk of lost rent for organizations. In which case, the following InfoONs may be useful: Failure to Obtain Income and Retroactive RGI Calculations.