COVID-19: OAS/GIS Residency Requirements, Reconsideration Request and Appeals to Social Security Tribunal

Prepared by: Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

(Current as of: May 21, 2020)

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This information is for Canadian seniors who are already receiving Old Age Security (OAS) / Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and may be residing outside of Canada during the COVID-19 crisis. The information provided is subject to the Government of Canada’s updated policies. Please see the Government of Canada’s Old Age Security website for the most updated information.


1. Additional benefits for seniors receiving OAS/GIS and GAINS:

On May 12, the Government of Canada announced seniors who qualify for Old Age Security (OAS) will be eligible for a one-time, tax-free payment of $300, and those eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will get an extra $200. Those eligible for both will receive $500. Seniors do not have to apply for it. The payment will automatically be paid through the GST credit.

On March 25, the Ontario government announced a temporary top-up to seniors receiving the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS). Starting in April 2020, monthly GAINS payment amounts were automatically doubled for a period of six months.


2. I am already receiving OAS/GIS pension payments but I am stuck outside of Canada due to COVID-19 crisis. How long can I continue to receive OAS pension payments outside of Canada?

You can receive your OAS/GIS pension benefits outside of Canada if you meet the 20-year residency requirement. The 20-year residency requirement is:

  1. you resided in Canada for at least 20 years after turning 18; or
  2. you lived and worked in a country that has a social security agreement with Canada and you meet the 20-year residence requirement under the provisions of that agreement

If you don’t meet the 20 year residency requirement, you will need to take the following actions:

We advise you to keep all the travel documents, and any documents or information that will explain why you cannot return to Canada sooner. You will need these documents, should Service Canada decide to audit your OAS/GIS eligibility.

The legislation says a temporary absence for not more than one year shall not be considered to have interrupted that person’s residence in Canada.   In some cases, even if you are absent for more than a year, you may still be found to be a resident.  However, Service Canada sometimes will find people who have left Canada for more than six months ineligible for OAS. This is why you should keep your travel documents and any other “proof” to explain why you cannot return to Canada.


3. When should I contact Service Canada about my status while receiving OAS/GIS?

You should provide up-to-date information to Service Canada in the following situations:

  • you need to correct inaccurate or incomplete information or provide information not previously disclosed;
  • you move;
  • your banking information changes;
  • your marital status changes;
  • you leave Canada for more than six months; or
  • a beneficiary dies.

There are a few ways to contact Service Canada including phone, online, and by mail. For information on how to contact OAS, go to this website:

For information on how to authorize someone to contact Service Canada on your behalf, read “Can someone else contact Service Canada on my behalf?” on this website:


4. I received a letter from Service Canada that my OAS or GIS payments will stop. What can I do?

You can ask Service Canada to reconsider their decision. If your reconsideration request is denied, you can appeal to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada. In all cases, you should seek legal advice from your local clinic or from CSALC.

(a) How to request reconsideration of an OAS decision:

You must make your request for reconsideration in writing within 90 days after you are notified in writing of the decision. To make the request, you may:

  1. complete and submit the Request for Reconsideration of an Old Age Security Decision form(ISP3134); or
  2. prepare your written reconsideration request and include:
  • your name, address, telephone number and Social Insurance Number or Client Identification Number;
  • a detailed explanation of why you want reconsideration
  • any new information that could affect the decision.

Sign and date your request form and submit it by mail to the address on the decision letter.


(b) If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, the next step is to make an appeal to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada (SST)

If you want to appeal to the SST, you must file your appeal form within 90 days after the reconsideration decision is communicated to you (by letter or by telephone).

You will need to complete an appeal form and submit it to the tribunal. You can submit the form by mail, email or fax. For more information on the appeal process, go to this website:

In all cases, you should seek legal advice from your local clinic or from CSALC.


For most updated information, please see our website:
For legal advice, please call the clinic at 416-971-9674


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