Golden years or dark cloud? Rethinking aging: Part 2

The first blog in this series provided key insights to help planning for retirement. In this second part, we take a look at what you need to start thinking about as you age.

As you near age 64 there are a lot of government benefits to look into and to start preparing for.

Applying for government benefits

Federal Programs

Old Age Security (OAS)

Any action to apply for your OAS should start the month after you turn 64, whether you receive a letter from Service Canada or not.

  • The amount you get depends on how long you have lived in Canada after the age of 18. (You can consult the table of old age security payment amounts for the current benefit rates.)
  • If you have a low income, you may be eligible to also receive the Guaranteed Income supplement and allowance. Also look into the allowance for survivor program, and the Guaranteed Annual Income System for Seniors.
  • If you have a higher income at the time you turn 65, depending on your future plans, you can defer your OAS for up to 60 months (5 years) after the date you become eligible, in exchange for a higher monthly amount.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Retirement pension:

  • Your CPP retirement pension does not start automatically; you must apply for it.
  • You can apply for, and receive, the full CPP retirement pension at age 65 or receive it as early as age 60 (with a 36 per cent reduction in benefits), or as late as age 70, (with a 42 per cent increase in benefits). The amount of reduction or increase varies by age.
  • You can apply a maximum of 12 months before the date you would like your pension to start.

Provincial Programs

The best tool to use to find all the programs — federal and provincial — that are available to you is the Benefits Finder. This allows you to check off customizable features to find programs suited to your needs.

Living arrangements

As you age, it’s important to think about the quality of life you’d like to have in your older years and to take steps to achieve this. There are many types of living arrangements, some or all of which may be required depending on your health.

The types of housing arrangements that are available for seniors include:

  • Independent living. This is where you look after yourself in your own home. You might look into making your own home more accessible or adaptable for living. You might also look into services that can be brought to you – cleaning, meals, care, etc.
  • Assisted living/retirement homes. This is where services, such as those mentioned above, are included in the living arrangements.
  • Long-term care/nursing home. This is usually for those that need constant living and medical support.

For more information on senior’s housing, consult the report on the CMHC website.

Living wills and powers of attorney

What is the difference? A living will is a document that specifies your treatment wishes should you become unable to communicate. A power of attorney is a legal document that names a specific person to act on your behalf. A living will can be part of your power of attorney

These documents make sure you have someone you trust acting on your behalf should you be incapable of doing so yourself.

Keep the conversation going

What quality of life do you want in your older years? Have you thought about the benefits you might be eligible for, and what living and end of life arrangements you want, so that you can age the way you want to? Post a comment below.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Paolina Calabro, CPA, CGA

Paolina is a financial analyst at RealDecoy.