Seniors get automatic GIS renewal

Seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement will notice a simpler process for renewing their annual application. Most seniors can automatically renew their GIS simply by filing their income tax by April 30th of each year.

The GIS is based on income from the previous year. The automatic renewal idea came out of brainstorming within the federal government about improving service to seniors. The Income Security Programs branch of Human Resources is working with the tax department to simplify this particular procedure.

Renewal went well
Susan Mauti is a consultant with Income Security Programs in Human Resources Development Canada.

“Last year was the first year for automatic renewal, and it went over very well. The department sent out a letter to every client. Most people just went with the flow. They filed their income tax returns and it renewed their supplement automatically,” she says.

“If the department doesn’t receive your income tax return information by April 30th, then we’ll send out a renewal application to those people. And they’re supposed to fill out the form and send it in to the department.”

Notifybout changes
In the past, renewal forms went out each January. Mauti says although the renewal process is now automatic and tied to the April deadline for income tax,  “if, for some reason, someone gets a form, fill it out.”

She also advises seniors to contact the program if there’s any change in their income.

“Maybe you worked last year, or your pension dropped, so these people are paid on what’s called an option. What we pay them is not based on last year’s income, but what they’re going to be receiving this year. So these people, even though they’ve filed their income tax return, they’re still going to get a renewal application because it’s a different thing,” she says.

Mauti says there are four categories of GIS payments, depending on age and marital status. And only old age security recipients are eligible for the top-up.

For Canadians between the ages of 60 and 64 who are either widows or widowers, there is also the spousal allowance, which is “basically GIS for people in that category”, according to Mauti.

Free services
More assistance is available by contacting the toll free lines for Income Security Programs:

  • 1-800-277-9914

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (formerly Revenue Canada) also has trained volunteers available to assist in completing both income tax returns and guaranteed income supplement application or renewal forms. There’s no charge for this service. The contact number:

  • 1-800-959-8281.

There is also online access at