Government Benefits

CPP child rearing dropout – The good

The Child Rearing Dropout (CRDO) provision of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) isn’t an actual benefit paid on its own, but it is an important provision nonetheless. The CRDO provision is generally helpful, but the actual impacts of it aren’t always fair. This article is the first of a three part series on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly aspects of the CRDO provision.

  1. The CRDO can help someone meet the eligibility criteria for disability or survivor benefits (the Good), and it can also increase the amount of these benefits and increase the amount of retirement pensions (also the Good).
  2. The legislative provisions governing the CRDO have some flaws and weaknesses that result in some gender inequities (the Bad) and it generally doesn’t work well if both parents share the child-rearing responsibilities (also the Bad).
  3. In combination with another feature of the CPP known as the Division of Unadjusted Pensionable Earnings (DUPE) provisions, the CRDO often results in a significant net loss of benefits to the “couple” (the downright Ugly).

Who is eligible for the CRDO and when does it apply?

Service Canada will tell you that the Child Rearing Dropout can be claimed by whichever parent was the “primary caregiver” for a child under the age of seven. I’ll explain in Part II (The Bad) why that isn’t always the case, but for now let’s pretend that’s the truth and let’s call that person the qualified parent.

The CRDO is intended to apply when a qualified parent stays home or works only part-time while raising a child under the age of seven. I’ll explain in Part III (The Ugly) why that isn’t always the case, but for now let’s pretend that’s the truth.

The period of CRDO eligibility starts with the month following the birth of the child, and ends with the month that the child turns seven. If you have more than one child and the children are born less than seven years apart, the period of eligibility starts the month following the birth of the oldest child and ends the month that the youngest child turns seven. For example, if you had three children born July 1970, April 1973 and May 1976, the period of CRDO eligibility would start August 1970 and end May 1983.

Within the above age limit period, you can only claim the CRDO for periods when the child was eligible for either the Family Allowances (for periods up to December 1991) or the Child Tax Benefit (for periods since January 1992). This generally means that you and the child were living in Canada at that time, or if you were outside of Canada that you were working for the Canadian government or military.

The CRDO is not automatic. The qualified parent must complete a separate form (ISP 1640) when applying for a CPP benefit.

If you are eligible for the CRDO and did not complete this form when you applied for your CPP benefit, it can be submitted later. It is fully retroactive.

How does the CRDO work?

The Child Rearing Dropout is actually a two-step process. The first step (I’ll call this CRDO 1), allows a qualified parent to exclude any years from their contributory period where their earnings were less than the Years’s Basic Exemption (generally $3,500). By excluding these years from their contributory period, CRDO 1 can help someone meet the eligibility criteria for disability and survivor benefits. It will also increase the amount of those benefits and increase the amount of their retirement pension.

The second step (I’ll call this CRDO 2) allows a qualified parent to increase the amount of their CPP benefits by dropping out periods of time where their earnings were less than their “average lifetime earnings.” You may want to check out an earlier article that I wrote on how to calculate your CPP retirement pension to learn more about what your average lifetime earnings means, and how dropouts work.

Now let’s look at a couple of examples that demonstrate how the Child Rearing Dropout works.


Nancy worked part-time while attending university, and then full time for 10 years after she graduated. She then had a daughter and stayed home to look after her until the child started school. At that time she got a part-time job, but was permanently disabled two years later.

Without the CRDO, Nancy would have been denied a CPP disability benefit, because she would not have met the requirement of having made contributions in four of the last six years in her contributory period. However, under CRDO 1, she does meet the requirement because she can exclude the five years that she stayed home to look after her daughter. Furthermore, when her CPP disability benefit is calculated, she can drop out the last two years of part-time earnings under CRDO 2 and thereby increase the amount of her disability benefit.


Susan worked full time for a couple of years after completing high school, and then had two children, born June 1969 and December 1972. She worked part-time until the second child turned seven, and then went back to work full time and earned more than the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings every year until she turned age 60, at which point she retired.

Without the Child Rearing Dropout, Susan’s CPP retirement pension at age 65 would be significantly affected by the 10.5 years of part-time earnings that she had while raising her children, because the general dropout would allow her to drop out only the five years of zero earnings after age 60, plus three of the lowest years of part-time earnings. By dropping out all of those 10.5 years under CRDO 2, however, and by using the general dropout to drop out the five years of zero earnings after age 60, Susan can receive a maximum CPP retirement pension.

Watch this website in the coming months for Part II (CRDO − The Bad) and Part III (CRDO − The Ugly).


  1. Lance

    Doug, is there any effect to when in the year you start and stop CRDO period. For example, if someone was to take a year off to raise their newborn, is there a difference if your 1 year off of work was from July to June vs Jan to Dec, all else being equal?

    • Doug

      This is a very good question!!

      I’m going to talk about this situation in a bit more detail in CRDO Part II (The Bad), but the two scenarios that you describe would be treated quite differently under the CRDO provision. The answer isn’t as simple as you might think, and it’s complicated a bit by when the child is born, as CRDO eligibility starts the month following the birth.

      Let’s use your 2 examples with the child being born in the month prior to stopping work, with someone earning $36,000 annually.

      If they stop work from July in one year to June in the following year, their actual earnings in each year will be $18,000. None of this period would be excluded under CRDO1, but if $18,000 was less than their adjusted average earnings when their pension was calculated, the 18 month period from July of the first year thru December of the second year would be dropped out, as would $27,000 of earnings (half of the first year’s $18,000 and all of the second year’s $18,000.

      If they stopped work from January thru December, they would have zero earnings that year, and the whole 12-month period would be excluded from their contributory period.

      On the surface, it might seem that the second scenario is a better option (and it probably is in most cases), but I think you’d need to plug the numbers into a whole contributory record to see how much of a difference there would actually be.

      • Donna

        I am a divorced female 64 and trying to fill out by CPP application. I have several years of zero income. I have three children: two born in canada 1986, 1988 and my third child born 1995 in the United States and she came to Canada in 1998. We lived in the United States from 1993 until 1998. I’m not sure how to find out whether I was eligible for the family allowance for any of those three children when I lived in canada. I phoned service Canada and they weren’t much help. I called the benefits department and they said they can look it up for me of what years I received family benefits but because it was so far back, it will take at least a month to get the results mailed to me. Also Service Canada said they needed proof of when my daughter arrived in Canada. They said they needed a passport stamped which I don’t have. I only have her Canadian citizenship card which shows what year she came over the border. Should I just fill in what I have and hope for the best and assume that I was eligible for the family allowance? Should I just put the year that it says on the Canadian citizenship card or leave her off the child rearing provision application? Will doing the child rearing provision make that much difference in my CPP to be bothered with all of this, because it’s a lot of trouble? I’ve been looking online to find somewhere I can get someone to help me fill in the CPP application in person other than Service Canada. Where would I look for someone like that?

        • Doug Runchey

          Hi Donna – As long as you were subject to and filed Canadian income tax returns while you were residing in Canada, you would have been eligible for the FA/CCTB payments for your children. As for documentation of your daughter’s entry to Canada, do you have any proof of your entry? Either way, I wouldn’t get too hung up on that. As you suggest, I would just complete the form to the best of your ability and provide as much supporting evidence as you have available. I don’t think you should need any assistance beyond that.

    • Tom

      My wife recently received her Monthly estimated benefits from CPP. She is going to apply for her CPP. But wondering if she should apply for the CRDO? Would it make any difference. She worked from 1973 until 1980 and contributed. She then had 4 children with the last born in 1990. She did not return to work after the last child was born. ??

      • Doug Runchey

        Hi Tom – Yes, she should definitely apply for the CRDO when she applies for her CPP.

  2. Dylan

    Hi Doug,

    Question, can an individual apply both the general drop-out and child rearing provisions to the calculation of their contributory period?

    For example, if person X earned nothing between the ages of 18 and 25 because they were in University, then had a child at 30 and left the workforce for seven years to be the primary caregiver. Could you apply both provisions in order to wipe out the full 14 non-earning years from the calculation, or would this be an either/or scenario?


  3. Doug


    This is a very good question! The short answer is that a person can use both dropouts, but the result isn’t quite as simple as adding the two together.

    First, the general dropout is now 17%, so that means that someone applying at age 65 can now drop out as many as 8 years (up from 7 years when the general dropout was 15%). If you’re also eligible for the child-rearing dropout (CRDO) however, you can’t double-dip on those 7 years.

    What happens is that you drop out the 7 CRDO years first, and then you get to drop out 17% of the remaining 40 years = 6.8 more years under the general dropout provision.

    The above numbers change if you start your CPP at any age other than 65.

  4. kasey kasey

    hi Doug,

    what if you go back to work full-time in those 7 years but make under the the minimum requirement. Is it 7 of your lowest years in that 40 year period. Many people can work full time and make below the minimum. ie I can work as a Sr personal banker and make less than the $51k minimum required to meet my 40 points. I dont understand how this process can be deemed as fair? I have worked full time for the last 24 years. I am 42 and may not get a full entitlement? So the only people guaranteed a full income are the ones that could afford to contribute to RRSP being over the very high minimums. ie as a Customer service manager at a bank I was offered only $50,000 per yesr..under the required minimum??? with a significant education.Again, I am having a hard time understanding how this can be perceived as fair. So how is the govt proposing to help all the families they are cutting out of receiving their full entitlement with these new rules? And why isnt it like an annuity, where the funds of the hug income earned funds the lower income earners??? Why is it not a percentage of income based on income brackets? This to me would seem more fair. And more fairly fund the plan based on income earned. So the same maximum can be enjoyed by all trying to make ends meet in retirement, that may not have had the luxury of enough disposable income to fund rrsp’s. Ie being a single parent. I speak as a Financial Planner and the flaws so apparent with this system. Or is the govt counting on clawbacks for high income earners, which will achieve further income in the plan? I have been lycky enough to have maximized my rrsp each year, but good planning should not exempt me from anything. If anything If I have my own retirement olan I should be anle to opt out of the CPP, especially if my contributions will not lead to anything. Perhaps that is what we dhould be lobbying for. Or at the minimum be able to draw what you have contributed? I prefer to opt out and take that money and invest it myself. Since it is in fact my money. $3500 a year for 40 years compounded…im going to guess thats at least 5 or $600,000 over 40 years and youre telling me I mày be lucky to get $500 a month. Sounds like stealing to me, youre trying to tell me the plan is under funded? well half way through my working career and my contributions plus compounding are probably close to 2 or $300,000. Pretty sure thats enough for the govt to pay me my maximum for 30 years in retirement. No?????

    • Zak


      You should read some of the other articles they are very good and will give you a better understanding on how the CPP system works.

      You haven’t put $3500 of your money a year into CPP. The amount changes every year the maximum contributions when you where young were most likely in the 1000 dollar range, so your $600000 number is out to lunch.

      The CPP is not under funded.

      There are no claw backs in CPP. You are thinking about the GIS, which has income limits. OAS also has a very high income limit.

      • Beverly Schott

        I just found out there is a family allowance for CCP.I was a stay home mom from 1977 till 2000

  5. Doug

    kasey kasey

    To answer the one question that you asked dealing with the CRDO, the 7 years that can be dropped out are the 7 specific years starting from the month after the child is born to the month that he/she turns age 7. It doesn’t matter whether the qualified parent was working fulltime or not. What matters is whether their earnings during that period was over or under their lifetime average earnings.

    If their earnings during any/all of those 7 years was under average, those years will be dropped out under the CRDO to increase their pension.

  6. Howard

    Hi Doug,
    I have had a turbulent career like many others. Contributions during my CRDO years rose and fell according to the jobs I was able to get and keep.

    I am afraid that if I claim some of those years as CRDO (as my wife has agreed to waive her claim) and I guess wrong will my CPP benefits be reduced?

    • Doug


      The CRDO can never decrease your CPP, because it only ever drops out years that are lower than average for you. If you had some good years of earnings during the CRDO period, they will be retained when your CPP is calculated.

  7. Liz

    Can my ex husband get the CRDO without my consent?
    If he is approved for it, how will it affect my credits when split (he ended up at home with the kids because he didnt have a job). I worked full time at all times because of this except for the 3 months of maternity leave allowed at the time.
    He is applying right now and I a very worried about what this will do to my income (I did not start contributing until i was 25 as I came from England at that time, so my years are already decresed).

    • Doug


      The answer to your question depends on whether you’re talking about pre-1993 (when CRDO eligibility is based on family allowances eligibility, which was always paid to the female parent if there was one) or post-1992 (when CRDO eligibility is based on child tax benefit eligibility, which your husband could/should have received if he was the stay-at-home parent.

      This is a very complex issue, and you may wish to email me at [email protected]. I can do some calculations for you, and perhaps save you both a lot of money in the long run.

      • Al

        Hi Doug,

        I am writing in regards to Liz’s concerns about her ex-husband receiving the CRDO without her consent.

        I am in a slightly different situation where I have been happily married for 29 years (I am 58 and my wife is 59) when our son was born in 1994. I changed professions to start a new career in the real estate industry to be the primary caregiver when my wife kept her full time job. For the next 4 years to 1998, it was a struggle to exceed the $3,500 threshold as net income. However, because she was the higher wage earner, the child tax credit was applied to her tax return to reduce her net income. Will this play a factor as to whether I will be eligible for the 4 CRDO years in the calculation of the amount of my CPP?

        Thank you,

        • Doug Runchey

          Hi Al – I’m not an income tax expert, but it’s my understanding that CRDO eligibility is based on whichever parent received the child tax benefit (not who claimed the child tax credit), unless both parties agree otherwise. Do you remember which one of you actually received the CTB?

      • Maureen

        This is a note for Liz who said she came from England to Canada at age 25. Does she know she can apply for a pension from the United Kingdom? Lots of conditions etc but she should look into it if she hasn’t already.

  8. Christina Howard

    Hi Doug
    I have been on CPP Disability since 2009. I never heard of this CROD and cpp never mentioned it.. I had 3 children
    born 1982 1984 and 1989 and stayed home looked after them with a very miminal part time job. husband worked full time

    Am I still allowed to apply for this and if so how far back do they go with it. I also would like to know where would I get copies of my childrens birth certificates as I lost them in a house fire a year ago. Look forward to reply and would love to apply for this.. I am 53 in August been divorced since 1999.
    thank you

    • Doug Runchey


      The CRDO isn’t a separate benefit that’s paid to you, it’s part of the calculation to your regular CPP disability or retirement pension. It’s therefore possible that you did complete the CRDO form as part of your disability application, without fully being aware of it. If not, it would be fully retroactive to the start of your CPP disability in 2009.

      I recommend that you call Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914 and ask that if the CRDO was used in your calculation. If not, ask them to mail you the form ISP 1640 for you to complete. If you have any doubt in what they’re telling you, email me at [email protected] and I will assist you (for a fee).

      If required, you should be able to obtain copies of your children’s birth certificates by contacting the Vital Statistics department in whatever province(s) they were born.

      • Dave

        If you have your children’s social insurance number’s that can be used in place of birth certificates.

        • christina

          hello thanks for the reply I do not hav social insurance numbers for my kids. Would the cpp not have excess to their stuff

  9. Dave

    Phone your kids and get their SIN’s or you’ll have to get their birth certs.

  10. Maria Darling

    We have 3 children born in September 1984, December 1986 and April 1991. During the years 1984, 1985, 1986 I received the Family Allowance and worked enough each year to contribute the maximum to CPP. My husband did not. He was the primary caregiver. From 1987 until 1998 I was the primary caregiver. My spouse worked full-time (and contributed the maximum to CPP), whereas I didn’t work or worked part-time. I have read that the CRDP cannot be shared for the same periods, however can my husband claim the CRDO for the years 1984, 1985 and 1986 and then can I claim it for the years 1987 through 1998?

    • Doug Runchey


      Yes, as the FA recipient you can waive your rights to the CRDO in favour of your husband for those 3 years and retain your rights to the CRDO for all other years. This is done by you signing the waiver form at the time that he applies for his CPP.

      • Heather

        Hi Doug
        I have a similar situation. However in a few of those child rearing years both my husband and I had part time or occasional work and were well below our maximums. Is there a way to calculate which spouse should claim the CRDO for which periods to maximize our CPP?
        Also could CPP require proof of primary caregiving or will they be satisfied with our waiver of rights to the child rearing provision.

        • Doug Runchey

          Hi Heather – Yes, you could try calculating your CPP benefits under various CRDO scenarios by following this article: or you could pay me to do the calculations by emailing me at [email protected]. My fee to do this analysis would be $100 + GST. As far as your husband claiming any periods of CRDO, your waiver is all that is required for periods up to the end of 1991 (when Family Allowances ended). For periods after 1991, unless your husband was actually the recipient of any CTB payments, he would need your consent plus he would need to obtain a letter from Revenue Canada confirming that he would have been eligible had he applied for it (this letter isn’t hard to obtain if you can find a good clerk at Revenue Canada).

  11. Christine

    I was denied CPP as they said I have not pd into it in the last 4-6 years, that is because I became disabled and also was primary caregiver to my only child since 2004. how can they do this to me?

    • Doug Runchey


      The minimum requirement for CPP disability is that you have made contributions in at least 4 out of the last 6 years of your contributory period. If the reason why you haven’t done so is that you were disabled and/or looking after a child under age 7, that period of 6 years can sometimes be changed.

      If you want me to look at your case closer, send me a copy of your CPP statement of contributions to [email protected].

  12. Greg

    Can either spouse claim the CDRO? If one worked full time while the other stayed home, and you calculate that the CDRO would increase the CPP benefit of the non caregiver more than the benefit of the caregiver, is that allowable?

    • Doug Runchey


      The short answer is “No”.

      Under the legislation, the CRDO actually belongs to the parent who received the Family Allowances and/or the Child Tax Benefit, which was generally the female parent. There is some provision for reassigning the CRDO if the other parent was actually the primary caregiver but it isn’t always easy, especially for periods of time since 1992 when CTB eligibility is the determining factor.

  13. Greg

    Thank you for the quick response, and for the detailed instructions for calculating CPP benefit. It is very helpful.

  14. Barb

    Thanks for the article, Doug. I applied for the CRDO in 2010 when I applied for my CPP benefits at age 60. I spent 17 years raising my four children as a stay at home mom up to when the youngest was 7 (Aug 1970-Nov 1987). I was rejected for the CRDO because I never received the baby bonus. My husband had refused to apply for the baby bonus, though I would have been very glad to have it! I certainly didn’t know that it would affect my CPP benefits all these years later! It reduced my benefit by about a third, which is significant to a low income senior.

    When the Liberals were elected recently, they talked about revamping CPP, so I thought I would write to them about the problem for parents such as myself who are excluded from the provision. I went online to research, and found to my amazement that the wording on the CPP website has now changed (Jan, 2016) and that they now say that it is possible to benefit from the CRDO even if you did not receive the baby bonus! Do you know when this policy changed? Do you know if there are any more “gotcha’s” in how it is approved? If I were approved retroactively, I would be eligible for a tidy sum, and, as a low income senior, I don’t want to lose the chance for it.


    • Doug Runchey


      There has been no change to the legislation or the regulations, and I’m not aware of any policy change. I wonder if the change on the website is intended only to clarify that any periods of CRDO after 1992 are based on receipt or eligibility for the Child Tax Benefit rather than the Family Allowances?

      Can you provide a link for the changed wording that you’re referring to?

      • Barb

        Hi Doug,
        I talked with someone at CPP yesterday, and you are right! No change in regulations or policy. He looked at my case briefly and said that the CRDO would not have been of any use to me anyway because my working career was short and so I had already used the maximum number of drop-out years. (If I understood him correctly.) I asked him, if this was so, then why did CPP send me a letter saying that my CPP benefit was being reduced by 1/3 because I didn’t qualify for the CRDO? He had both the initial figure CPP sent me in 2010 as well as the follow-up letter there in my file. He said he couldn’t account for the difference, and that he wasn’t able to run the numbers starting from a date in the past, so couldn’t confirm which was correct. He suggested that I write to the regional office and ask them to send me a detailed accounting of how the figures were arrived at. But he warned me too, that there was a limit of 90 days after the original decision to appeal it. So it is unlikely (or impossible?) that I can change it even if a mistake was made.

        Does the government really put that much onus on the poor retiree to figure out their own correct CPP benefit? Oh dear!


        • Doug Runchey


          I’ll email you offline to see if I can help you at all.

  15. Sharon

    “The first step (I’ll call this CRDO 1), allows a qualified parent to exclude any years from their contributory period where their earnings were less than the Years’s Basic Exemption (generally $3,500).” I assume that a period with earnings less than the Year’s Basic Exemption can only be excluded if it falls in the 7 year window beginning in the month following the month of birth and can not be excluded if it is a period preceding the year of birth.

    • Doug Runchey


      Yes, CRDO protection starts the month following birth and ends with the month of the child’s 7th birthday.

  16. Susan

    Hello Doug,
    Can I apply for DRDO without consideration of income split. I do not want to involve my ex-spouse with any issues that might come about if I say I want to apply for income spit. Because it will affect his CPP I don’t want to deal with any backlash from him. I was home for 8 years with young children while he worked. I have been back to work now for over 20 years and will retire in 2 years at 65. Would they force me to income split and would that affect my ability to get the benefits of CRDO.

    • Doug Runchey

      Susan – Yes, you can apply for CRDO regardless what you do (or don’t do) regarding a CPP credit split. If you’re divorced, Service Canada may tell you that a credit split is “mandatory”, but it’s not. It’s only mandatory that they approve the credit split if one of you requests it by completing a specific form notifying Service Canada of your divorce.

  17. Tony Richards

    I had credit splitting from 1977 to 1991. For 8 of those years my ex wife earned nothing so I lost half of my personable earnings. My ex-wife died in 2005 at age 56 so never drew her pension. Mine has been affected. So mine and my employers contributed to my pensionable earning were then split with my ex-wife who will never get a pension. Can I challenge this? This is obviously not fair. She was not disables although married again but her new husband also died before 60 a few years after her.

    • Doug Runchey


      It may seem unfair to you, but I don’t think you have any basis of appeal under the law. CPP credit-splitting is like any other division of assets during a divorce. Once the earnings “credits” are divided, they belong to her and it doesn’t really matter whether she uses them or not.

  18. Diane

    Hi Doug, Thanks for all your informative articles. Sorry in advance if this is a stupid question. Can an immigrant (now Canadian citizen) claim the child-rearing dropout provision for the years prior to when the child entered Canada? If say, the family immigrated after the child turned age 7, would the parent now claiming CPP benefits be eligible for the child-rearing dropout provision for years prior to when the parent contributed to CPP?
    Thanks again!

    • Doug Runchey

      Diane – It’s not a stupid question, and I should have covered this issue in my article. The short answer is “No”. The child-rearing dropout only applies if the parent was eligible for the Family Allowances and/or the Child Tax Benefit for the child while they were under age 7, and the child and the parent must both have been resident in Canada in order to have been eligible for those benefits and thus the CRDO.

  19. Gordon Flath

    Hello Doug
    I’m in the process of applying for cpp and oasis.
    I was married in 1976 to my first wife. Children born in 1981 and 1983.I was farming at the time. In 1985 we separated and divorced later. I never received government assistance of any kind, although together with my parents and community I did look after the boys for 2 years and then again for another 2 years. I went bankrupt due to the divorce and interest rates of up to 22%.
    I remarried in 1994 and had another boy .
    The oldest 2 lived with us for the 1994-1995 scool year then went back to their mother to live with till adulthood.
    Can I claim to be the primary caregiver for the 5 years those 2 oldest boys were living with me or should I leave well enough alone?
    Thanks for reading this.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Gordon – If they were still under age 7 and if you received the Family Allowances for them for those 5 years, then by all means you should claim the child-rearing dropout for them.

  20. Gilles

    Hi Doug
    Interesting reading. I understand the child rearing and drop our provisions. Is there a formula to calculate the CPP income that includes these provisions. Any of the formulas I have seen on the web does not include these provisions.


    Hi Doug, what is the impact on the childcare drop out years if the CPP applicant had a divorce in the past and had already split their CPP benefits?

    • Doug Runchey

      If her earnings for any year after the split are higher than her “average lifetime earnings”, those earnings will increase her CPP. If they’re lower than her “average lifetime earnings”, they will be dropped out under the CRDO.

  22. Kathy

    Hi Doug, Thanks so much for your posts – very helpful. I have two questions re my CPP application. First, I believe that the general dropout is calculated automatically, so I don’t have to do anything to apply for that (ie. years when I went to school, etc.). Could you confirm that? Secondly, I know that I have to apply for the child-rearing drop-out years. I had four children, with a total of 12 years of eligibility for the child-rearing drop-out. However, I did make some income, in some of those years. Do I have to calculate my average (adjusted) contribution, then choose the years within that eligibility that my income was below that average, or do I just make my CPP application for the 12 year drop-out period, and they figure out for me which years should be dropped?

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Kathy – The good news is that you don’t need to specify either dropout. The general (17%) dropout is totally automatic, and you just have to provide the children’s birthdates for the CRDO and they will drop out any low-earnings years but retain any high-earnings years within that 12-year period.

  23. Simon

    My spouse is considering a 1 year leave of absence (potentially with no return to work).

    Should we apply for this now, or do we just note the important dates and wait for 30+ years when she applies for CPP?

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Simon – Yes, she just applies for the child-rearing dropout when she applies for her CPP. The only important date that she has to remember is the date of birth of the child, and any period of low earnings while the child is under age 7 will be dropped out.

  24. Nigel

    Can CRDO be used for years outside Canada? Were living in Canada 93-97 and paying CPP and had 2 children, then lived in UK for 5 years and had our 3rd before coming back permanently to Canada. Can the CRDO be applied to the years we lived in the UK when my wifes CPP contributions were zero and we had children under 7?

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Nigel – Sorry, I should have made that clear. The short answer is “No”. The longer answer is that CRDO eligibility is linked to prior eligibility for FA and/or CTB when the children were under age 7, and neither FA nor CTB were generally payable if you were living outside Canada so that the longer answer is also generally “No”.

      • Nigel

        Thanks Doug. And thanks for all the CPP information you have provided on this site. It’s been very useful and allowed me to work out more accurate estimates of our future CPP payments. As you have pointed out, the Service Canada estimates were too high!!

        • Doug Runchey

          Hi Nigel – Thanks for the positive feedback!

  25. Susan Viers

    My husband stayed at home for 1 year as caregiver for our 3 children while I worked. The rest of the time I was the primary caregiver. How do we answer the question of ” Were you the primary caregiver” If no what dates.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Susan – When your husband applies for his CPP, he will say that he was not the primary caregiver except for that one-year period, and when you apply you will say that you were not the primary care-giver for that one-year period.

      • Susan

        Thank you very much for your quick response.

  26. Kim Taylor

    Hi Doug. Is there anyway that when I apply for the CRDO that it could reduce my pension? I am reaching sixty and have been given an estimate but I haven’t applied for the CRDO yet. Also I have 2 children and would have a 10 year CRDO but can you only apply for one child or do you have to include both? Thanks

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Kim – No, applying for the CRDO can never hurt you. They will only drop out any years when your earnings were lower than your lifetime average, and any earnings that are above average will stay in the equation. You could apply for only one child if you wanted to, but there’s no reason that I can think of why you wouldn’t want to apply for both.

  27. kevin

    Hi Doug, it is my understanding that the CRD does not apply in the same manner as it pertains to the QPP. Is this correct and if so where can find info on this. Tax

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Kevin – I’m not an expert regarding the QPP, but after a quick review of the QPP legislation this morning indicates very similar wording to the CPP legislation. I am therefore not aware of any differences, unless you can explain to me how the QPP handles the CRDO/CRP.

  28. Josephine

    Hello Doug: I had no idea a CRDO existed! I have 3 children, born in 1973, 1982 and 1984. I only worked one year (1977-1988), from then on I was a stay at home Mom. My husband passed away in 1991, from that time on I was on CPP disability. I am about to receive OAS as well as GI, and will still receive Survivors Benefits. Will I qualify for CRDO? Thank you in advance.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Josephine – CRDO isn’t a benefit that you receive on its own, it’s part of the calculation of your CPP pension. I’m a little surprised to hear you say that you only worked for one year but that you received CPP disability. If you did though, it will convert to a CPP retirement pension at age 65. You should contact Service Canada to make sure that the CRDO was considered in the calculation of your CPP disability pension.

      • Josephine

        Thank you so much for your quick reply. I will certainly get in touch with Service Canada and see if it was considered.

        • Brenda

          Hi Doug I had no idea crdo existed till I was turned down for cpp disability this year. I have three children born 1983 ,1989 ,1991
          Stayed home with my children. 1996 I was injured. I have not worked since a my dr. Say I’m 100% disabled in 1996. I worked in 1996 for a 11 months.
          Then before this time I contributed to plan was 1988.
          If I apply for Crdo will this help me get my cpp disability.
          Thank you

          • Doug Runchey

            Hi Brenda – I’d need to see your complete record of earnings, but it might help. It possibly depends on whether you were denied because you didn’t meet the contributory requirements or whether you were denied because your condition didn’t meet the definition of disabled for CPP purposes.

  29. Roger

    I realize this post may be a bit old, but I do have one question:
    Eligibility states that you were staying home to take care of the child. How important is this part?
    i.e. When my child was 5 I was laid off from my job and made a career change to a career that I enjoy more, but that pays significantly less than previously. Although I did not stay home with my child from ages 5-7, it would be most beneficial to my CPP calculation to be able to drop out those years.

    Normally I would say that the definition of “primary care giver” is vague enough that the government couldn’t say that I wasn’t, so I might as well apply, but I was also claiming childcare expenses on my income tax returns. Would this likely come back to bite me? or is the only “real” requirement for the CRDO that your child is under 7, and nothing else really matters? (Wife was also working during this timeframe, and her income was above maximum in all years so there’s no benefit to her taking the CRDO for that time)

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Roger – There is no requirement in the legislation requiring you to have stayed at home in order to qualify for the CRDO. You will need to state on the CRDO form ISP 1640 (or on the retirement pension application) that you were the primary caregiver for your child(ren) for that period of time and your wife will have to sign her agreement to that claim. If the period covers 1992 or later, you will also need to provide a letter from Revenue Canada Taxation that you would have been the qualified parent for the CTB for that period, if you had claimed it at that time.

  30. Yy

    I have a child born 1995 and another one born in 2006, so do I get 14 years drop out period? Will the government drop out 14 years of the lowest or zero earnings? I did work on and off. Some years I earn more, some years earn less, some years I didn’t work at all between 1996 and 2019.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Yy – Yes, you can drop out all 14 years when one of your children were under age 7 if you had zero or low earnings during those years.

  31. Jerry

    H Doug, good article, a lot of people don’t seem to know about how CRDO can increase their pensions. QUESTION: Do you know / can you confirm that the Quebec Statement of Participation for QPP does NOT currently include CRDO in the calculation?

    I have very old QPP Stmt of Participation for my wife that indicate a substantially higher estimated pension, then all of a sudden it went down. Her income has been consistent. She will be entitled to 13 years of CRDO.

    They don’t indicate anything at all on the Quebec web site, one way or another. Do you know? Thanks.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Jerry – I don’t know for sure, but I would be very surprised if the QPP currently (or ever) includes the CRDO in their estimates. I can’t explain why their estimates would have decreased substantially if her income level has remained relatively stable.

  32. Debby

    Is there an additional drop out period for students who were attending college? Also, I was living common-law with my children’s father for 11 years and our Separation agreement (By way of a court order) included splitting CPP contributions for the years that we were together.
    My lawyer advised me at the time that I need not do anything in regards to the future CPP credits, since the papers would be filed by the courts.
    On the CPP website, I read that there is a time limit to apply for the splitting of contributions. Is this correct?
    We finalized our custody/separation agreement in 1997.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Debby – No, there’s no specific dropout for students but there is the general dropout which lets everyone drop out the lowest 17% of their contributory period (maximum 8 years). Your lawyer gave you horrible advice, because you had to apply for a credit split within four years of your separation date and a credit split is never done directly through filing by the courts. You could try applying for a credit split now if you think that your ex-partner would agree to waive the four-year time limit now or possibly if your separation agreement was very specific and mentioned anything about waiving the time limit.

  33. Bruce

    Hi Doug,
    Love the article but could use help with this.
    In February 2015, I became a stay at home, dad to a 4 1/2-year-old while my wife was employed full-time. In October of that year, I was employed for 3 months. Due to severance pay received in February and the 3 months of employment late in the year, I obtained an APE of $42700 for the year (YMPE was $53600). My question is: When figuring out my CRDO, do I exclude the months January/February and October through December? My average lifetime APE is $46700. Thanks in advance

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Bruce – No, the earnings are deemed to have been earned equally throughout the 12 months of the year, so either you drop out 10 months of the year under the CRDO (March to December) and 10/12ths of the earnings, or you keep the whole year.

  34. Stef

    What happens in the years you started and stopped to be eligible for CRDO, if the month is let’s say June, But you had income for those years. CRA only knows the CPP contribution for the whole year. Do they assume that you earned that income equally distributed each month. In my case the income was less then half of the pensionable earnings for the year.

    • Doug Runchey

      Yes, earnings are deemed to have been earned equally throughout the year.

  35. Stef

    For immigrants to Canada , can the general 17% drop out be used to eliminate years the person was not in Canada.

    • Doug Runchey


  36. Stef

    Do I understand it correctly: the decision of who was the primary caregiver is a signed decision (agreement) purely between the 2 parents. There are no other factors like who earned more, etc. The first one to apply claims some years , the spouse signs and the rest of the years can be used by the other spouse, probably no signature needed anymore. We are a simple family still happily together, lots of children. Some of the CRDO years my income was really low, some were outstanding, so very high beta; I had several years with max YMPE earnings, my wife was always around 50% of that.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Stef – Essentially, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Under the CPP legislation, the CRDO belongs to the parent that received the Family Allowances up to 1991 (always the female parent) and to the parent that received the Child Tax Benefit since 1992 (usually the female parent, but could have been the male parent if he had lower income and both parents agreed that he was the primary caregiver). The female parent therefore has the primary right to the CRDO and can usually apply for and receive the CRDO without any agreement from the male parent. If the male parent wants to apply for the CRDO though, the female parent will have to sign the form waiving her rights to the CRDO for any periods if they are 1991 or prior. For periods since 1992, she technically can’t just waive her rights to the CRDO. Instead, she has to agree that he was the primary caregiver for those periods and he has to obtain a letter from CRA confirming that he either received the CTB or that he would have been eligible for the CTB had he applied for it for the period claimed.

  37. Stef

    Thanks for all your work, I just started looking at this issues, have to make a decision in 2-3 years. I like to be able to plan things ahead. As for the government website, I am not surprised that is so bad. It is even worse then the Ontario OSAP estimator, and that is already a really bad one. The GIS is another example of bed information, tables for income ranges, that is so early 20-th century. Most of the government tools seem to serve more a propaganda goal, rather then to educate.

  38. Bruce

    Hi Doug,
    You state “…CRDO 1… allows a qualified parent to exclude any years from their contributory period where their earnings were less than the YBE”. If my YBE was zero for the year and my child turns 7 in October, would the full 12 months be dropped or only 10 months? Thanks for this and all your articles. Great stuff!!

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Bruce – Unfortunately, only the 10 months would get dropped out for the year that your child turned age 7.

  39. Jennifer MacKay

    Hi Doug, I am currently employed, 57 years old and have three children (17, 26, 28). I worked most of my life but did take a few years off or worked part-time when the kids were young. My husband passed away a few months ago and my 17 year old son and I are currently receiving the survivor benefits. Should I be applying for the CRDO now or waiting until I retire at 60? Would the CRDO have any impact on the survivor CPP monthly payment for me (I know there is a max. payment for my son)? Thanks for any information you can provide.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Jennifer – The CRDO form will not affect your CPP survivor’s pension, so there is no real advantage or disadvantage in applying for the CRDO in advance of applying for your own CPP retirement pension.


    Hello Doug Runchey
    A mother did not contribute to CPP in her lifetime and raised 5 children. Is she eligible for CPP benefits and CRDO?

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Mohammad – If she never contributed to CPP, the CRDO can’t help her and she isn’t eligible for any CPP benefits.

  41. Steve

    Hello Doug…what’s the minimum number of contribution years to be eligible for CRDO and CPP benefits? Thank you

  42. Marie Nelan

    Doug, I would just like to say thank you for your many articles regarding CPP Disability and CPP Retirement. I just turned 65 and my CPP Disability pension was automatically turn into the CPP Retirement pension. I was a little worried about how much I would be entitled to, but, based on your articles, I was able to calculate the amount that my CPP Retirement pension amount would be, to within $1.73. Not bad. I would not have been able to do this calculation without your enormous input that I gleaned from your many articles. So again, thank you.

    • Doug Runchey

      Thanks Marie! Happy to have helped you a bit!!

  43. Kathi

    Hello! I tried to read through the comments to see if my question would be there but there’s a lot of them!
    So, here goes. If I worked from 21 – 60 and didn’t collect CPP until 65 and had 7 years with one child and 9 1/2 with two more. Would the calculation be based on my 18 -20 and 60-65 being my dropped years and 16 1/2 years being dropped for CRDO (provided they are less than my average lifetime earnings)?
    Another question, as long as the child benefit/family allowance was applied for that is what matters, correct? I’m not sure our family income allowed us to qualify some years.

    Thank you,

    • Doug Runchey

      If you drop out 16.5 years and you take your CPP at age 65, that would leave 30.5 years (47 minus 16.5) so under the 17% dropout you could only drop out a further 63 months (30.5 x 12 months x 17%).

      Yes, you can claim the CRP even if you didn’t receive the benefits because your family income was too high.

  44. Gail

    Hi Doug: Here is my story. I was a stay at home mom for a good part of my life and I received the child tax bonus cheque. My husband worked full time supported us because if I worked I would have spent all my money in child care. It wasn’t until my youngest child was 12 that I managed to get into the work force working full time ever since. My question is even through I am divorced for 12 years now and there was a pension split I see very little cpp like I need to work to stay alive so I need to work. I took early cpp too to help with my income since my ex is not paying me spousal allowance, so that doesn’t help matters much. Should I bother trying for the child rearing provision through I was in college when I became pregnant and hardly worked until that time. Also do I have to share the child rearing provision with my ex.

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Gail – Yes, you should definitely apply for the CRP if you didn’t previously. No, you can’t share the CRP with your ex.

  45. Jenny Halpin

    Hi Doug,
    I came to Canada in 1988 and had my first child in 1988 and 4th child in 1996. I had no Canadian income prior to 1988. I started working in1989 but did not start contributing max CPP until 2000. Does the fact that I had no income prior to 1988 affect CRDO? I thought they calculated it based on your prior income being more that post baby income, which mine would not be. Also, my husband had more years with lower income than myself in that time. I understand that we can each claim some years, but to determine who would gain more from benefit, is based contribution amount or income amount. Thanks!

    • Doug Runchey

      Hi Jenny – You are confusing the CRDO and the CRDI. The CRDO applies to the base portion of the CPP calculation and it helps to increase the benefit amount by dropping out any low income years when you had a child under age 7 anytime since 1966. The CRDI applies only to the enhanced portions of the CPP calculation and it helps the CPP calculation by dropping in earnings for any low income years after 2018 if you have a child under age 7. The amount of the drop in is determined by your average enhanced earnings only (first additional or second additional) for the prior 5 years.

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