If you and your spouse are separating, one of you may be walking away with a bit more income than the other. This article addresses what you can do to increase your income if you are a low income earner, age 65+ and going through a separation.
Many individuals who have or want to separate from their spouse are concerned that they cannot afford to do so. If your only pension benefits are Old Age Security (OAS) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP), your income may very well be less than $1,000 per month. And as a couple, if you both are collecting the Guaranteed Income Supplement, your income is likely less than $1,200 per month. With the cost of renting in many parts of BC, it seems impossible to make a go on your own.
If you are not already receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement, you will want to find out if you’re eligible for apply. If you are over 65, in receipt of OAS, and your total income is less than $1,549 per month, you are likely eligible.
The application is Form #ISP-3025. You will find the application here: https://catalogue.servicecanada.gc.ca/content/EForms/en/Detail.html?Form=ISP3025
If you are already receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the first thing you will want to do to increase your income after separation is to fill out a Service Canada form called a Statutory Declaration: Separation of Legal Spouses or Common-Law Partners (Form # ISP-1811): https://catalogue.servicecanada.gc.ca/content/EForms/en/Detail.html?Form=ISP1811OAS
The purpose of this form is to recalculate the amount of GIS you receive from the “couples” rate to a “single” rate. Once approved this will increase your income to at least $1550 per month. Please note that you need to already be living separate and apart from your spouse in order to complete this form.
Help With Rent
If you are hoping to rent a place or will be remaining in your rental after your spouse moves out, you may also want to look into the Shelter Aid For Elderly Renters (SAFER) Program. SAFER provides direct cash assistance to eligible residents of BC who are age 60 or over and who pay more than 30% of their gross (before tax) monthly household income towards the rent for their home, including the cost of pad rental for a manufactured home (trailer) that they own and occupy.
You can learn more about SAFER and calculate what amount of subsidy you could receive here: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance/SAFER
Applications to SAFER take approximately 2-3 months to process.
Once you have been separated from your spouse for more than 90 consecutive days, you should fill out a Marital Status Change (Form #RC65) to adjust your GST benefit.
You will find the form here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/forms/rc65.html