The federal Receiver General issues about 300 million government benefits payments each year, with roughly three quarters of which are made by direct deposit. Have you received one lately? Do you know if you should have?
Many Canadians are entitled to cash from the government but are unaware of their eligibility, maintains consumer advocate Richard Shillington.
He estimates that thousands of Canadian seniors aren’t getting Old Age Security or the Guaranteed Income Supplement even though they qualify. And many more aren’t receiving benefits from the Canada Pension Plan, even though they actually into paid it.
Don’t Forget To Apply
OAS and CPP benefits aren’t provided automatically. You must apply for them and will usually receive your payment within the last three business days of each month.
Shillington’s research also suggests that a significant number of those who are receiving pensions may be getting less than they should from these programs, largely because they don’t know how things work. What’s worse, retroactive payment of benefits is generally limited to no more than 12 months.
And it’s not only older people who may be missing out. Many families mistakenly believe that they’re not eligible for certain benefits because they make too much money. Even if you feel that your net family income is too high to allow you to qualify for certain benefit programs, there are some that you should apply for anyway.
Income Levels Not Always The Issue
For example, the Universal Child Care Benefit is available to all Canadian families with children under the age of six. The Benefit isn’t based on income, so no matter how much money you make you’ll receive $100 per month for every eligible child.
In addition to this, there’s the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Eligibility for this monthly cheque is calculated according the family’s total income and number of children. The government recalculates your benefit each year, which means that if your income declines you may be able to receive additional funds. The CCTB is usually issued on the 20th day of each month, and one week earlier in December.
The same application is used for both the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit, so you can apply for both programs at the same time anyway.
Relief From The HST
Anyone 19 and older can apply for the GST/HST credit – a quarterly payment that assists low-income earners in offsetting the consumption taxes they face in their day-to-day lives. The next payment date is the first week of April. To receive this credit, you have to apply for it each year by filing a tax return – even if you have little or no income to report.
The Working Income Tax Benefit is intended to provide relief for low‑income individuals and families who are already working and to encourage other Canadians to enter the workforce. For families, the biggest benefit is paid if the family’s working income is between roughly $10,000 and $15,000.
If money is tight, you may apply for an advance payment of one-half of the benefit to which you’re entitled. If approved, the prepayments will be made as part of your GST/HST credit payments.
Service Canada’s Benefits Finder
In order not to miss out on something else you might be entitled to, your best bet is to turn to Service Canada’s Benefits Finder. There you’ll find a detailed list, with links for more information, of both federal and provincial government programs that you may be eligible for, and how precisely to apply for them.
The Canada Benefits site also offers a province-by-province index that lets you search by either program name or by topic.