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Apply Early or Apply Late for Your CPP

Weighted down by indecision or waiting to make a decision, Ontario baby boomers are staring down aging with good humour. Applying for CPP at 60 or hanging on to 70 is just another dilemma in a long playlist of retirement scenarios.

Taking CPP ASAP

Your hair went south, but your Canada Pension Plan doesn’t have to. Almost two-thirds of your colleagues take CPP before 65, CARP, the Canadian Association for Retired Persons, says. CARP advises members to give serious thought to applying before then. Many young retirees keep working after 60, but their income declines because they semi-retire or can’t find the higher paying jobs they had when they were younger. The less income you make, the less CPP you collect. 

To the Contrary

Boomer & Echo recommends taking your CPP at 60 only if:

1. You need it to pay your bills. 

Ill health or financial need can be big motivators. Early CPP reduces your annual payments by 36% or about $5,000 a year for life. Average CPP payout at 60: $434 a month, less tax. Give your decision a twice over. Unless your income qualifies you for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), taking early CPP may cut into your retirement lifestyle. If you’re flush with savings, reinvest the money instead in a RRSP. You’ll  pay to convert your savings to a RRIF by 71, but that’s for your financial advisor or tax accountant to figure out.

2. You want to live life to the fullest while you can.

Debilitating illnesses like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease or dementia can rob you of a long and productive life after retirement. Taking CPP at 60 gives you time to live it up while you’re at your best. On the other hand, you could leave your CPP alone and apply for a disability pension instead. That gives you steady income for now and a full retirement pension at 65. 

3. You stopped making CPP contributions some time ago.

Lucky you, retiring at 55 and all or starting your own business after you got the heave ho. Your CPP contributions may have stopped at the same time. That being the case, your pension will be calculated on the best 35 years of your career, not 39 as it would if you worked until you were 60. No reason to delay taking CPP, since there’s no financial advantage to be gained.

When You’re 65

Your neck’s a little crepy, or should we say creepy, and all those rock concerts in your 20s are taking their toll. Sixty-five’s not a bad time to start collecting CPP. You’ll get the OAS (Old Age Security) at the same time and, if it’s due, the GIS too. It could be a nice, tidy sum to brighten your day. Average payments at 65 are $679 a month or up to $1,175 for the highest contributors.

Freedom 70

Ah, the joys of waiting until you’re 70. Your CPP goes up by 0.7% for every month after age 65. Most Canadian men live to be at least 80 or 84 for women. Staying in the workplace past 65 makes it even sweeter. Your employer has to keep contributing to CPP if you go back to work between 60 and 65, but once you reach that golden age, you’re free as a bird. That puts extra $ in your pocket, up to $20,000 annually if you outwaited your co-workers.

How to Qualify for CPP

Before you start counting your nest egg, see if you qualify for CPP. You must be 60 or older, have worked in Canada and make at least one CPP contribution yourself or through credits from an ex-spouse or former common-law partner.

Applying Online or In Person

Applying is easy with a My Service Canada Account. Register online at Canada.ca to get a personal access code to upload applications and documents. The federal government uses My Service Canada Account to communicate with you about pension benefits. Your estimated benefits will be calculated and a decision posted within a week or two. 

Paper applications take longer to process, up to 120 days, but are necessary if you:

  • already receive or have been denied a CPP benefit, including a disability pension, survivor’s pension or children’s benefit
  • live outside Canada
  • or have power of attorney for personal property.

Complete an Application for a Canada Pension Plan Retirement Pension form at any Service Canada office or print it off from Canada.ca and bring it with you. 

Submitting CPP Documents

Apply about six months before you hope to receive your pension. That gives you adequate time to fill in any missing information. Include certified true copies of any original documents — you can arrange for copies through Axess Law Ontario’s commissioners of oaths. True copies protect your documents from loss or theft and ensure you have the originals when or if you need them. Have fun spending your CPP.

Certified True Copies For CPP Applications

Axess Law’s Ontario commissioners of oaths can give you certified true copies for a CPP application. Dial 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make an appointment. Walk-ins are accepted at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s commissioner of oath services.

Photo by romyrwood |Pixabay.

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