It is important to think about your future housing needs as you get older. There are several different kinds of seniors’ housing so you can find out what types of home support are available in your neighbourhood. At the same time, consider your current home to see if there are things you can do to make it easier and safer, as you get older. If you have a disability, you might be eligible for government assistance to pay for home renovations. You should also find out what kind of services are available in your community such as home support—you may want to ask your family doctor and/or someone you trust for any advice or guidance regarding support services. Researching and understanding your options will help you make future decisions about your housing. There are several different types of seniors housing and access to subsidized units for low-income seniors. You will have the option between independent living, retirement homes and assisted living, nursing homes or long-term care.You should compare costs and services offered in each setting.
The federal government has several benefit programs for individuals over 65 who have lived in Canada for over 10 years. However, you must apply for Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Spouse’s Allowance, Canada’s Pension Plan (CPP) and other federal programs. You will not receive them automatically! Because many programs use your income tax return to decide if you are eligible, you should file a tax return by April 30 each year. This will also allow you to claim a GST rebate and other refundable tax credits. Remember to notify Service Canada if anything changes in your life. For example, if you are receiving OAS, GIS, the Allowance or CPP and you move or your situation changes, for example, if your spouse passes away.
You are allowed to contribute 18% of earned income to an RRSP and there is no time limit for how long you can carry forward unused contribution room. You have 60 days after year-end to make an RRSP contribution and claim a deduction for the previous tax-year. There is no limit to how many RRSPs you can have and you are eligible to over contribute a maximum of $2000.00 in a lifetime without incurring a penalty.
Remember, if you decide to withdraw money from an RRSP, you will need to pay taxes on that money. However, it is not necessary to claim an RRSP deduction for the year in which the contribution was made and there is no time limit for how long you can carry forward unused contribution room.
Under the Lifelong Learning Plan, the interest rate is zero on an RRSP loan. You have 15 years to repay loans under the Lifelong Learning Plan and the Home Buyers’ Plan. It is advised to review your RRSP investments every three months. The government places no limitations on the use of money borrowed under the Lifelong Learning Plan.
If you are thinking about whether or not a TFSA or an RRSP is a better choice, remember the following: A TFSA is a better choice if you expect your income in retirement to be higher than it is now, if you expect to apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement when you retire and/or if you have a defined benefit pension plan.
Ontario Drug Benefit Programs:Each year, millions of Ontario residents receive drug benefits from Ontario’s drug programs. The province has five different programs seniors can apply for depending on needs: Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODB), if eligible, may pay for the majority of cost of your prescription drugs, New Drugs Funding Program for Cancer Care (NDFP) may cover the costs of newer intravenous cancer drugs. Third, the Special Drugs Program (SDP) may provide funding for specific drugs used for certain diseases and conditions. Fourth, inherited metabolic diseases program (IMD) may pay for certain drugs, appropriate supplements and specialized food to treat metabolic disorders. Finally, the government offers the Visudyne Program, this program may pay for the specific drug that slows the eye disease called age related macular degeneration. It is important to find out if you are eligible and apply to these programs because the cost of your prescription drugs may be covered by the province of Ontario.
Trillium Drug Program: This program helps people who have high prescription drug costs relative to their household income. You will however have to pay a small amount 4 times per year and this is called a deductible. The amount of your deductible is based on your household income. For most people, the deductible equals about 4% of your household’s combined net income. In addition, if you have high prescription drug costs and a low household income you may be eligible to pay $2 or less for every prescription. The pharmacist will charge you this fee and the fee is called a co-payment. You need to download: Application for Ontario Drug Benefits and the information package: A Guide to your Application: Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB).
Reduced Co-Payment for Lower Income Seniors: It is important to research all possibilities for tax credits and benefits—particularly when you are a senior.Depending on your annual income, you may be able to have the ODB $100 annual deductible waived and have your co-payment reduced per prescription.
Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS): If you are 65 years old or older and receive the federal Old Age Security pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement payments, you could get up to a maximum of $83 per month to ensure your income stays above a certain amount. GAINS ensures a guaranteed minimum income for Ontario seniors by providing monthly payments to individuals who qualify. The monthly GAINS payments are on top of the federal Old Age Security (OAS) pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments you may receive.
Strong Communities Rent Supplement Program: Low to moderate income households, including those requiring support services, can apply for a rent-geared-to-income subsidy to help make housing affordable.