How international social security agreements affect CPP and OAS eligibility

Canada currently has international social security agreements with over 50 countries. These agreements coordinate pension programs for people who have lived or worked in two countries.

Included in the 50 countries are the United States, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, as well as many smaller countries. Canada has only a limited agreement with the United Kingdom.

To get a list of all the countries with which Canada has agreements with and explanations of each agreement, visit the Service Canada website.

What is the purpose of these social security agreements?

Most of the agreements are similar, and are generally designed to do two things:

  1. Eliminate duplicate coverage, for example where an individual lives in one country while working temporarily in another country
  2. Eliminate gaps in coverage, where an individual has contributed to both countries but doesn’t have enough contributions to qualify for benefits in one or both countries.

While both objectives are important, this article will deal exclusively with how the agreements eliminate gaps in coverage.

What is the meant by gaps in coverage?

Eligibility for social security benefits in Canada and in most other countries generally requires that you meet some minimum contributory criteria. For example:

  • You must have resided in Canada for at least 10 years after age 18 in order to be eligible for even a partial Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
  • You must have resided in Canada for at least 20 years after age 18 in order for your OAS pension to be permanently payable outside of Canada.
  • You generally must have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for four of the last six calendar years in order to be eligible for a CPP disability benefit.
  • You must have contributed for one-third of the years in your contributory period in order to be eligible for CPP death or survivor benefits.

Meeting these minimum contributory requirements is generally not difficult if you’ve lived your entire life in Canada. It is much more difficult if you’ve moved to or from another country partway through life. Without a social security agreement between those countries, people might not qualify for benefits from one or both of those countries.

What social security agreements don’t do

Social security agreements can affect whether you meet the minimum contributory requirements to receive benefits (what I call eligibility), but they don’t affect the amount of those benefits (what I call entitlement).

Let's look at an example: Peter was born in another country and moved to Canada at age 35 and lived here until age 50, at which time he then returned to his country of birth.

Without a social security agreement, Peter won’t be eligible for any OAS when he reaches age 65. This is because he has less than the necessary 20 years of residence in Canada in order to be eligible for OAS outside of Canada. With an agreement, he may be able to count years of residence or contributions in that other country to meet the minimum eligibility requirement of 20 years to qualify for OAS from Canada. The amount of his OAS benefit entitlement, however, will be based solely on his 15 years of residence in Canada.

How these social security agreements work?

You have to apply separately to each country for any benefits that you might be eligible for.

All CPP and OAS applications have a question that asks you to list any other country that you have lived or worked in. If you don’t meet the minimum eligibility requirements for CPP or OAS based just on your Canadian contributions/residence, your application will be considered under any International Agreement that might apply to you.

The process of confirming your contributions/residence in that other country generally takes several months, but if this gives you enough combined contributions/residence to meet the minimum eligibility requirements, it means that your application for CPP or OAS will be approved and not denied. Again, the amount of your benefit entitlement will be based solely on your Canadian contributions/residence.

Written by Doug Runchey

Doug Runchey worked for the Income Security Programs branch of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada for more than 32 years, and was a specialist in the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security legislation, regulations and policy areas. He now runs his own company, DR Pensions Consulting, which provides pension advice, including detailed calculations for CPP retirement planning and “credit splitting” purposes. Doug can be reached by email @ [email protected] or check out his website at

106 Responses to How international social security agreements affect CPP and OAS eligibility

  1. Dear Sir or Madam,

    I have skoliosis and unable to work. I have worked in Kanada 2011-2013 und in Germany from 1971-1983 plus child education
    time 10 years. My disability application is denied. Who can help me. We are not in a good financial situation. My husband is sick and have arthritis, we have a mortgage on the house.

    Lydia Landvatter

    • Lydia

      The only way that an international agreement can help you to qualify for a CPP disability pension is if it helps you meet the minimum contributory requirement of 4 years of contributions out of the last 6 year, and earnings at least equal to 10% of the YMPE for each of those 4 years.

      If you have valid contributions (ie, at least 10% of the YMPE) for 2011, 2012 and 2013, is there any way that you had any salary earnings in 2014 or could you claim self-employed earnings of at least $5,250 for 2014?

  2. I was born (1965) and raised in Canada. I received my degrees (undergrad and law) in Canada. I moved to the US in 2000 (I was 35). My understanding is that I do not have the requisite “20 years after 18” to be able to claim OAS. But, I believe that there is a provision of the agreement between the US and Canada that it will count my years in the US, so I can meet the 20 year requirement.

    I have earned SS credits while here in the US.

    Am I able to receive OAS benefits from Canada and SS benefits from the US? In other words, I am not looking to claim CPP from Canada – only OAS.


    • Ted

      Yes, you should be able to count your years of SS contributions in order to meet the 20-year requirement, and then you will qualify for OAS based on how many years of Canadian residence you have after turning age 18 (approx. 17/40th).

      There is no restriction under the OAS legislation to receiving both OAS from Canada and SS benefits from the US.

      Assuming that you made some CPP contributions before you left Canada at age 35, you would also be eligible for CPP benefits. I’m curious as to why you wouldn’t claim any CPP benefits?

      • Hi Doug,

        Thanks for the quick response. You raise a good question. I assumed I would only be able to claim SS in the US and not also claim CPP in Canada (i.e.,, I figured I am not able to claim both). Is that correct? I guess I would be interested in the strategy that gains benefits me the most … CPP + OAS or SS + OAS? Or is it something different?


        • You can claim CPP, OA and SS if you are eligible for them. I get Canada pension, OAS and a spousal benefit from SS. so you can receive all 3 if eligible. The best thing to do is apply for all of them.

    • Hello Doug

      I see that you are an expert on this topic and appreciate reading your answers to other people’s questions. My wife and I have been Canadian citizens since the mid-1990s but have been living in the USA since the late 1990s. While I have earned income in the USA and have accumulated 40 social security credits, My wife has on earned income in the USA and had lived in Canada for a total time period of approximately 4 years. Could her 18+ years of residence in the USA be used to help her satisfy the 10 year Canadian residency requirement or the 20 year out-of-Canada residency requirement for OAS benefit? Is the OAS benefit approximately $578 per person or per couple? Is there any chance or risk that OAS may be reduced/eliminated in the future especially for Canadian citizens who have qualified for a significant amount of social security benefit in another country such as USA?

      Thank you very much in advance.

      • Ken – My expertise doesn’t include indepth knowledge of each of the agreements, but I believe the Canada/USA agreement allows only periods of contribution to the USA (not simply residence in the USA) to count as periods of residence in Canada for OAS purposes. Here’s a link with more details:

        The OAS is $578 per person per month, but if you have only 4 years of residence in Canada you would receive only 4/40ths of that amount or about $57.80.

  3. Ted

    There is nothing in either the CPP or OAS legislation that reduces either of those benefits if you receive SS from the US. I’m not a tax expert, so I can’t tell you what any tax implications are.

    I know that the US has a “Windfall Elimination Program” that will reduce your SS if you receive some CPP, but I believe that it only applies if you have less than 30 years of contributions to SS. Even if your SS is reduced by the WEP however, I would expect that you’d always be better off receiving the CPP than not.

  4. Hello Mr Doug Runchey

    My name is Rolando Cruz, I found your name on DRpensions website and I just want to consult my mother’s application for her Old age security pension.
    I sponsored my mother and she migrated here in Canada since March 2004. During her 10 years residency here in Canada, she go back to Philippines 3 times (2005, 2007 & 2010), she spent more than a year on those 3 years.
    If I added all, she spent about 5.8 years here in Canada and 4.2 years in the Philippines but she maintained Canada as her primary residence.
    She submitted her OAS pension application here in Canada last year (Sept 2014th), we received a response that they forwarded her application to International Department and then they sent another letter after 1 year that she did not met the 10 years residency so they did not granted her the OAS pension
    When we submitted her application , the basis that we considered is the fact that she both lived here in Canada and Philippines for the past 10 years.
    The fact that they said “live OR worked” meaning that if she lived on both countries but not necessarily worked should have qualified her for at least a partial Old Age Security pension
    I think you are more expert on this that’s why I sent you this letter hoping that I will get the right answer

    Your response is greatly appreciated

    Rolando Cruz

    • Rolando

      Thanks for the enquiry!

      I’m not an expert on the Canada/Philippines agreement, but here’s a link that you might find useful:

      Here also is a quote from that link “If you do not qualify for an Old Age Security pension because you have not lived in Canada for the minimum number of years, Canada will consider periods credited under the Philippine pension program as periods of residence in Canada.”

      Each agreement is different, but this quote implies to me that if you’re short in Canadian residence for OAS purposes, you can only make that up with periods of contribution in the Philippines, not simply periods of residence there.

  5. Hi Doug – I found your article very interesting and thank you for the information. Im looking for some advice and hope you can guide us in the right direction. My wife 9Canadian Citizen) and I (US Citizen) married about 17 years ago.. she moved here to the US and worked 13 years and paying into all of our systems including Social Security. While she lived in Canada she worked perhaps 14-18 years and has paid into their system. The amount she paid into their system would have been minimal as they were not high paying jobs. Now that she is 62 and not working she is exploring the idea of collecting in some fashion, but actually waiting until she is around 65-ish. We are unclear about the whole CPP/OAP and U.S. SS thing in regards to what affects what meaning… can she collect both CPP and US or if she collects CPP and she goes to apply for SS that this will hurt her? We have created an account on the US SS system and it has her in there and an amount that they say she would get… we just don’t know what all it is taking into account such as any credits from a previous marriage, Canadian contributions to CCP/OAP…etc…so its a bit puzzling as to what to expect when she applies. Can you shed any light on this? Thank you Wayne

    • Wayne

      My true expertise is limited to the Canadian benefits under CPP/OAS and I can assure you that they are based strictly on her CPP contributions and the number of years that she resided in Canada. They are not affected by if/how much she receives from the US SS system.

      I am somewhat aware of the “Windfall Elimination Provision” (WEP) under the US SS system, and I’m pretty sure that her US benefits will be reduced if/when she receives CPP. Here’s a link to the WEP:

  6. Thank you for your reply Doug. So in the same regard, from what I described, can Canadians apply for and receive OAS AND U.S. Social Security or is that where the totalization comes in at? That’s also part of our confusion is that there are 3 systems that we are trying to understand…CPP/OAS/SS … it possible to collect from more than one. We wont be going for an appointment at the SS Admin. office for several more weeks so this at least gives us time to arm ourselves with as much knowledge and info as possible. Im sorry but in our location I just do not trust our local SS workers in this particular city. I suppose the only other option is to take an appropriate attorney to “over see” the process and make sure its calculated properly.

    • Wayne

      I don’t know whether citizenship is a factor in receiving U.S. SS, but otherwise she could certainly receive both OAS and SS (as well as CPP with the WEP offset).

      Totalization enters the picture only if she doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria for either/both countries separately. For instance, to apply for OAS from outside Canada she needs 20 years of residence in Canada after age 18. If she has that, she qualifies for OAS without using the agreement. If not, she may be able to use some of her years of contributions to the U.S. SS system to meet the 20-year threshold, but the amount of her OAS would be based strictly on the actual numbers of years of residence in Canada.

  7. Thank you Doug for your informative answers – I will keep sifting through the issue’s and continue to get our ducks in row.

  8. Hi Doug, I was born (1949), educated and worked in Canada until age 24, when I spent 11.5 years working in the UK & Australia. In 1986 I returned to Canada with my English wife and raised a family, retiring last year at age 66. The 2.5 years in Aus has been credited to my UK state pension entitlement and I have purchased additional years to qualify for 30/30ths of UK State Pension. I believe I qualify for full OAS based on birth prior to 1952, living in Canada from age 18-24 and being here past 28 years, though I do not have 40 years in Canada after age 18. I note that the application form asks for detail of my UK & Aussie residence, but as I understand it, my eligibility for the UK benefits, should not affect or reduce my Canadian benefit, which I hope to start this month, having deferred it for 13 months after 65. I have not yet started to claim the UK benefits, but will likely do so later this year. Are my assumptions correct? Thanks for your help

    • Bruce

      Yes, you are correct that you will qualify for the full basic OAS, based on:
      – having been born prior to July 1, 1952, and
      – having resided in Canada after age 18 and prior to July 1, 1977, and
      – having resided continuously in Canada for at least the 10 years immediately prior to reaching age 65.

      And don’t forget about your CPP also!

  9. Thanks Doug, As a followup my income in 2014&5 was near max clawback levels, however in 2016 (first real year of retirement and benefit claim) I estimate my income will be below $78k minimum clawback level. Is there a way I can ask them to use my estimated earnings for calculating the clawback, so that I can live on the benefit during 2016, rather than have a ‘windfall’ resettlement in March 2017, when I do my taxes? Thanks again for your help

  10. Hi Doug, My Japanese wife became a landed immigrant in Canada 1989 aged 36 and has resided here in Canada (became Canadian citezen in 2014) continually since. She is now 64 and will have 26 years of residency towards OAS. Is she able to supplement her years based on prior Japanese citizship.

    • Bob

      No, you can’t use residence/contributions to any other country in order to increase the amount of OAS or CPP benefits. You can only use them to meet any minimum eligibility requirements that may exist.

  11. Hi Doug
    I wonder if you can help answer this. I lived and worked in Canada from birth to age 44. Therefore contributed to CPP etc. I moved to the UK and have lived here for the past 15 years. The question is – when I begin collecting my CPP will it be frozen to the amount that it is when I start collecting it or will I receive the annual increases that anyone living in Canada get? I know that in the reverse scenario a UK citizen living in Canada receiving UK’s state pension, it would be frozen.

  12. Hi Doug,

    I was born in and have lived in Canada for my entire life. I am currently receiving CPPD (CPP disability) benefits in addition to a private pension from my former employer. I am 57 years old and had to retire earlier than originally planned upon due to serious health conditions.

    My question for you is whether or not I would be able to continue collecting CPPD benefits until age 65 if I relocated to and lived solely in another country, severing all residential ties to Canada? I am hoping to live in a place having lower costs for housing and food but have been getting conflicting answers to my question so far. A phone call to Service Canada about three years ago provided the reply that I would be able to collect CPPD while living abroad provided that I was still unable to work. More recently, however, I have seen on a government website a mention that that CPPD is payable only to people residing in Canada.

    Do you possibly know the answer to my question and, if so, could you please provide the link for the confirming reference document so I can be more certain of where I stand on this issue?

    many thanks,

  13. Hi Doug

    I was born in the UK and lived/worked there until 2004 when I came to live in Canada. In reading the above, do I understand correctly that I would need to live in Canada until 2024 to be able to have CPP paid to me in the UK should I return? I am in a position where at some point I may have to return to look after my parents and I don’t want to miss out on eligibility by a matter of a few years.

    Thanks again, this article has great advice.

    • Gina – CPP is payable anywhere in the world regardless how long you’ve lived in Canada. It’s OAS that’s only payable outside of Canada if you have 20 years of residence in Canada.

  14. Doug,

    I am a Canadian retiring at 63 and will be getting CPP and OAS as well as Public Service Pensions from Alberta. If I emigrate to Mexico and severe all ties to Canada including Citizenship, will this eliminate the 15% tax withholding by Canada in payment of my CPP and OAS Pensions?

    Great articles and the posts are very informative!


    • John – I’m sorry, but my expertise is limited to the CPP and OAS programs themselves and it doesn’t include tax liability depending on where you live and/or what your citizenship is.

  15. Hi Doug,

    I just turned 60 and applied for my CPP. I worked in the U.S. for 3 years under W2 and paid federal taxes, social security taxes and medicare taxis. Is 3 years long enough to receive any form of U.S. Pension?


    • Brent – Yes, I’m pretty sure that under the Canada/USA agreement you will qualify for U.S. social security.

  16. Hello Doug, I am a Dual Citizen of US and Canada. I have enough point is US system for SS, moved to Canada and have not worked for the past 10 years. My husband of 30 years has left me and we will be divorcing – I know I will receive 5 of his 10 years in CPP and than I will now work from age 51 – 70+ probably. But I do not make the maximum for the CPP point each year. Will I qualify for CPP? And how will eligiblity for both SS and CPP play out? Do they each pay some, can I receive dual retirements? I know you can’t double dip and max out both but will i be penalized for some time in each system?

    • Donna – Yes, you will qualify for both CPP and SS, based on your contributions to each program separately. You should also qualify for OAS, based on how many years you have resided in Canada.

  17. Hi Doug, thank you for your help. Thanks for letting me know that i will qualify for both. Do you know if one caps the other one out? For example if I qualify for $1000 in SS and $300 in CPP will I only get the maximum of $1000 – with the two countries splitting the cost? or will I get $1300 total from both? I understand that the CPP program caps out right now at around $1200 and most Canadians do not recieve the maximum. So if makes me wonder how they deal with 2 systems and fairness and not double dipping the systems, etc.

    I will also qualify for about 1/2 of the OAS by the time retirement gets here.

    Again Thanks for helping me understand the two systems and how they are connected.

      • Thanks Doug, so is that saying that in 2016, the WEP would be over $400? I am currently 51 so will not retire until 2031+. The SS office
        Gave me an estimate that I would get just under $1000 when the time comes… But is this saying they will take 400+ back and probably more as it looks like it went up every year. So possibly I won’t get much of anything? Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

        • Donna – I’m sorry, but I’m not an expert on the US social security. You’d have to contact them to see how much your SS will be reduced under the WEP.

  18. Dear Doug,
    I worked and contributed to the UK social pension system for 7 years before immigrating to Canada. With my retirement date coming up next month, two months ago, I submitted my social pension claim form to the UK only to be told I am NOT eligible for pension payment due to insufficient contribution ( minimum of 10 years ). I was also told I cannot use the contribution made to Canada’s CPP and OAS to top up the UK qualification year to 10 years, even though the two countries have a reciprocating agreement of sort.
    Is there any recourse I can pursue to allow me to get compensated for the 7 years of contribution made to the UK pension system? It seems so unfair not being able to get any of my contribution money back.
    Thank you for your most kind attention and help,
    Yours Truly,
    Charles Yu

  19. Hi Doug,
    I moved to Canada from Romania in 1996.
    Canada has social security agreements signed with Romania.
    I am 59 now and plan to retire at 65.
    I have a question about deferring OAS; most widely available information states this:
    For each month of “valid” deferral, your OAS pension will be increased by 0.6%. The maximum deferral is 5 years, which would increase your OAS pension by 36%.

    However i think i read an article a few years ago that OAS deferral for people like me who won’t have 40 years of residence in Canada when they turn 65 are at disadvantage to those who have 40 years residence in the sense that lets say you defer OAS for one year the residents who have 40+ years will receive 0.6×12=7.2% increase on their OAS benefits.
    However people who have less that 40 years of residence will only receive 2.5 % which represents 100%:40 years which comes to 2.5 years per year.

    Your comment on this would be greatly appreciated.

    • SB- Read this article:

      As you’ll notice, there is no disadvantage to people who have less than 40 years of residence if they delay beyond age 65, as any delay can be attributed either to an extra 1/40th as residence OR the 7.2% increase for voluntary deferral (but not both). Counting is as extra residence can be worth as much as a 10% increase (e.g., going from 10/40ths to 11/40ths). In your case, you will have approx. 26 years of residence at age 65 so if you delay one year you could choose 27/40ths (approx. a 3.85% increase over 26/40ths) OR 26/40ths with a 7.2% increase for voluntary deferral.

  20. Hi Doug,

    I am 65 and a dual citizen (US and Canada) currently living in the US. I moved back and forth over the years between the 2 countries and understand that “you must have resided in Canada for at least 20 years after age 18 in order for your OAS pension to be permanently payable outside of Canada.”

    I’ve lived in Canada somewhere between 18 to 21 years depending on how OAS determines the number of residency years. Does OAS calculate it by complete calendar years (Jan 1 to Dec 31), by number of days or months/year, by country of residence on Dec 31 of each year or some other method?

    Also, the OAS application asks for supporting paperwork to prove when I moved to the US or back to Canada with certified copies of original documents such as visas, airline tickets, etc. Visas were not required to move back to Canada for a returning citizen and no one would realistically be able to provide such old documents. Does this present a serious problem or a denial and what would you suggest.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.


    • Tom – Each period of residence in Canada is counted to the exact number of years/months/days and then they are added together to get your total number of years. It gets very difficult where someone has multiple exits/entries with little of no evidence, but do your best and good luck. If you don’t meet the 20-year rule based solely on your residence in Canada, you can still meet it under the Canada/USA agreement by using your years of US residence, so all that you’re really talking about is whether you receive 18/40ths or 21/40ths of the OAS.

  21. Thanks Doug.

    Will OAS look at our US previous year’s joint US tax return to determine if income will exceed the OAS threshold?

    If so, how do they determine my income when we file a joint return?

    Thanks again!

  22. Doug, very nice article. I wonder if you can tell me how to proceed. I was Canadian moved to US in 2009. I get an Ontario Pension for Policing and started Canada Pension at age 60. I have worked in US since 2011. I divorced and started claiming Social Security at age 62 on my former spouses record. I know I will be affected by WEP and other things when I start claiming my own SS. In fact due to my Canadian Pensions it may totally wipe out my SS. Should I seek totalization formula or is this even possible now that I am receiving both SS and Canada Pension. Thanks for your help.

  23. Hi Bob,
    My mom worked since she was 18 in UK and lived in Canada and worked since 1987. She has turned 65 one months ago. We’re starting to fill out the OAS pension forms and unsure the section for benefits from another country question 15 needs to be completed. She does not have benefits for old age from another country and has not applies. Thanks

    • Zoe – This section is optional, but I recommend that you show that she lived and worked in the UK from age 18 until 1987 and answer “No” to the question whether she has received or applied for benefits from the UK.

  24. Zoe, If the section is optional and you want to start receiving benefits anytime soon, I would suggest NOT filling it in. When I did this, they automatically deemed my claim a “complex case” which they allow 40 weeks for assessment on, before you can enquire about it. After the 40, when I asked for them to expedite, it took another month before I received any benefit. Yes they did give me the retroactive money, but it was a longggggg time to wait.
    By the way if your mum worked in the UK from 1970 (when she was 18) to 1987 (when she moved here), she should be eligible for UK state pension benefit for that time. The UK use 30ths in their denominator (so possibly 50%) though this would partially depend on if she “opted out of the ‘full stamp’ as a married woman” (even then she would get something. The other good news is at her age (same as my wife) she qualified at age 62, and the UK give a very generous 10% a year deferment bonus. She should definitely contact the UK State Pension authority (google for the address), it costs nothing to apply and she may be very pleasantly surprised even with the current state of Sterling (post Brexit)

  25. Hi Doug,

    My wife and I are living in the US. Both of us were born and worked in Canada, until I relocated to the USA in 1982. We returned to Canada 1986-1993, but ultimately left again for the US in 1993.

    My question concerns OAS. I know I will qualify for OAS, since I have more that 20 years residence in Canada after age 18. But my wife is younger and is a couple years short of 20 years. I should also mention that my wife has never worked in the USA, so even though she has an SSN “Authorized for Employment”, she has no work credits. So she will be getting a spousal pension from SSA based on my work record.

    So re OAS for my wife, will the USA-CAN Totalization Agreement bump her up to 20 years residence credits, so she can get a 50% OAS pension when she turns 65 later this year?

  26. Doug, thanks for this useful post. I wonder if you are aware of any limitations on receiving an overseas pension as well as CPP/OAS? I am 55, moved from the UK to Canada in 1992, and have been investigating my eligibility for a UK state pension at 67 (i.e., in 2027). It seems I have 6 qualifying contributory years and will be eligible for a prorated pension if I make at least 4 quite modest voluntary annual contributions to bring my total contributing years to 10; and if I continue to contribute for the next 12 years *and* make the maximum allowable (6) catch-up payments I will end up with around 2/3 of a full UK pension.

    I’m pleasantly surprised by this, but am half expecting there to be a catch. Aside from the fact that the pension would not be indexed to inflation, no negatives have emerged as I’ve done my web research, except perhaps this comment on a web forum:

    “There is a clause in the UK/Canada Social Security treaty that says any year that you are insured under National Insurance in the UK will not count as a year towards Old Age Security in Canada… [but] The general consensus is that this is ignored. I wrote to Service Canada about this and their response was in government speak. Essentially, they said that when assessing someone’s entitlement to OAS they do not ask the UK government about your NI status. They carefully avoided making any guarantee that they would not do so in future.”

    This sounds very mushy. Are you aware of any more authoritative answer — and if the situation may also extend to CPP?

    (The main concern, as the poster I quoted said, is that “On the face of it this means if you are paying voluntary NI contributions you are buying a pension that will not be indexed for inflation and giving up a pension that is free and is indexed for inflation.”)

    Thanks for any insight, and sorry for the overlong query…

    • Nick – I’m not an expert on the UK/Canada Social Security treaty (or any other agreements), but as far as I know, nothing that you do in regards to increasing your UK pension will affect either your OAS or CPP eligibility or entitlement.

  27. Hello Mr. Doud Runchey,

    Please assist (or provide a link to information) with the following issue:
    I am trying to evaluate my OAS perspectives.
    This is what I read from the “Guide for Completing an Application for Canadian Old Age, Retirement and Survivors Benefits under the Agreement on Social Security between Canada and Romania”:
    You may qualify for an Old Age Security pension if you:
    –  have reached age 65; and:
-  have resided in Canada for at least one year since reaching age 18; and
-  were a Canadian citizen or legal resident of Canada at the time of your departure; and 
-  have resided in Canada since reaching age 18 and have creditable periods under the legislation of Romania for a total of at least 20 years.

    I am confused regarding the creditable periods.
    Please clarify for me (or provide a link to information):
    1) would the period that I worked and contributed to the pension plan in Romania before becoming a Canadian citizen count as residency years in Canada for the purpose of meeting the minimum requirements for qualifying for OAS (20 years when living abroad)
    2) would a future period that I might have to leave Canada and live abroad (in Romania) count as residency in Canada provided I will contribute to the Romanian Pension Plan
    Thank you!

    • Nick – The answer to your first question is “Yes”. I don’t know the answer to your second question for sure, but I think not.

  28. Hi. I am Canadian and worked in Quebec for 40 years. I have been living in the US for the past 6 years (self employed) and plan to move back to Canada.
    When I apply for my Quebec pension do you know if what I paid into US social security will be used to calculate my final Quebec pension benefit?


  29. Hi Doug
    Thank you for all the info you’ve provided.

    Have a question: do you see any benefit if a dual Canada-US citizen while living and working in USA still makes voluntary contributions to CPP with no income received (and reported) in Canada?

    If some income in Canada is mandatory (for voluntary CPP contributions), can it be some investment income, say couple thousand Cad$ per year received as dividends/income in a taxable account at any Canadian brokerage?

    Thanks a lot,

    • Hi Serge – There is no such thing as voluntary CPP contributions, and contributions can only be made on qualified earnings from employment or self-employment.

      • Hi Doug:

        I am Colombian citizen and permanent resident in Canada for the last 15 years, I’m 55 and I plan to continue living in Canada and get my retirement here. However, I worked 12 years in Colombia and after I came I continue paying my retirement plan in Colombia as well. I know there is not any agreement between Canada and Colombia. So the question is when I am 65 can I receive retirement money from Canada and from Colombia? since I pay in both systems? or should I expect Canada to ban me and don’t allow me to receive my retirement money from my Colombian system?

        I appreciate any assistance you can give me on this topic.



        • Hi Selena – I know nothing about the social security programs in Colombia, but there’s no restriction in the Canadian system that would prevent you from receiving pensions from both countries.

  30. I am a US citizen and Canadian permanent resident who worked 17 years in the US before moving to Canada with my family in 2012. I am planning to retire from full-time work sometime next year with 5 years’ contribution into CPP. Assuming I can use my US work history to gain eligibility under the US/Canadian agreement, how would my benefit amount be calculated? I am asking because I am trying to determine the relative advantages of the US social security benefit vs. the CPP benefit. The SS advisor I spoke to said I could only receive benefits under one of the two plans, not both. My yearly income in Canada has come to approximately $80,000 to $90,000 a year. During the final 6 pr 7 of my years working in the US my income was comparable to this but it was much lower prior and the total amount I stand to receive from SS is relatively low as they calculate benefits based on an average over a number of years. I’m guessing I would do better under CPP but don’t know how my benefit amount would be calculated here in Canada. Perhaps you could enlighten me on this. Thank you.

    • Hi Carolyn – Your SS advisor was wrong, at least from Canada’s perspective. Your CPP retirement pension will be based on your total pensionable earnings to CPP, averaged over 39 years (if you take it at age 65) and your US earnings will have absolutely no relevance. Where the Canada/US agreement may come into play is in determining whether you’re eligible for OAS. This is because it may help you meet the 10-year or 20-year minimum residence requirement to qualify for OAS, but it won’t affect the amount of your OAS.

      • Thank you so much for clarifying CPP and OAS for me. I will be in Calgary over the next week and will see if there is any place I can go to to speak to someone directly about my potential eligibility for OAS next year given that I am covered by the US/Canada treaty. They should be able to tell me how many years I need to reside in Canada to reach eligibility under the terms of the treaty. I might need to wait a few more years before I attain eligibility under the terms of the treaty — or perhaps not — but as I am now over 65, I would like to apply for the benefit as soon as I have resided in Canada for the minimum number of years I need to in order to qualify.

        • Hi Carolyn – With 5 years of max contributions to CPP, your CPP retirement pension at age 65 will be approx. $142 per month. With 5 years of residence in Canada, your OAS would be approx. $73 per month (5/40ths of the full OAS of $583.74) at age 65 if you qualify under the agreement . It may be wise to delay your OAS until age 70 though, because it will double in those 5 years and you will “breakeven” at age 75.

          • Thanks so much for clearing up the confusion about all this. I will definitely wait another few years before applying for benefits under either program. In the meantime I will rely on returns from my investments and on US social security to fund my partial retirement.

  31. Hi Doug

    Am a Canadian citizen – worked in the US for 3 different companies (a total of 28 quarters),
    returned to Canada in 2009. Have worked as an an employee and also self-employed for some parts of that time. Currently (I’m 73) I receive CPP/OAS benefits along with a QPP supplement benefit – I am employed as a teacher so my income fluctuates depending on my course load.
    However, as a high-income earner in the US for 7 years, is there some pension benefit I might receive based upon the large amount of mandatory SS contributions I made while employed in the US? Know I do not qualify for US pension benefits directly because I do not meet the required 40 quarters of employment….would an additional benefit be available under the international agreements in this regard?

      • Hi Doug, I understand the caveat that you’re not an expert in US SS, but is it as simple as my read of the link suggests; that if Michael has 3 years (or more) (12 quarters) of CPP contributions that the 12 quarters would be added to his US SS 28 quarters and he would get the US entitlement…. with no reduction in his CPP? Does the amount of his contributions to CPP in those 3 years matter?

        On the US side it seems like a harsh rule for someone who only has worked in the US but does not achieve 10 years of contributions.

        • Hi Dave – Yes, I believe it is as simple and straightforward as you suggest. I don’t think it matters what the amount of the CPP contributions are, and I know that there’s no reduction in the CPP benefit amount.

  32. When it was apparent (in late 2008 during the crash/meltdown) that I had no choice but to return to Canada I went through a very frustrating process of trying to obtain some degree of, either refund, compensation or credit through US Social Services….it was a brick wall all the way. Their position is, you must have 40 quarters of recorded contributions while employed in the US or you get zip, zero, zilch as a pension benefit.

    It never occurred to me until just this week that perhaps the 28 quarters of deductions/contributions I did make, might be applicable, in conjunction with Canadian contributions, to obtain some form of benefit…..of course, the US gov’t is not gonna tell you that….in my case they get to keep the $10-15,000 in Social Security contributions I did make…..pretty crappy and somewhat fraudulent if only in the withholding of such information….so I will make yet another attempt to recover some of those monies. In point of fact, being employed on both a TN visa, and an O-1 visa (much higher visa class), once one’s job is terminated for any reason, as a Canadian you cannot qualify for EI benefits either…..another whack of contribution monies down the US gov’t toilet…..I will post any progress I make to keep y’all informed…..Thanks Doug

  33. Hi Doug,

    My wife and I were born in Canada in 1953.
    – After 42 years, we moved to Germany in 1995.
    – 22 years later we returned to Canada in 2017.

    I have applied for OAS and CPP (along with a German application) but fear that I may have been to hasty with the application for OAS. I chose to have the OAS start as soon as possible and I have heard that it is not possible to receive full OAS if that “as soon as possible” means less than a year after return to Canada. (We returned in March and I turn 65 in March.)

    I am confused. Any guidance on how to ensure full payments (or as full as possible) would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks very much in advance,

    • Hi Steven – There is a provision whereby applying for OAS a year or more after returning to Canada could result in a full OAS pension based on the “3-for-1” rule, but that provision doesn’t apply to anyone born after July 1, 1952. Your OAS entitlement will simply be 1/40th of the full OAS pension for each complete year of residence that you have in Canada after age 18 and prior to your OAS starting.

  34. Hi Doug

    Very informative article !!
    My parents have been living in Canada since last 10 years, they immigrated from India and now they have already turned 65 and soon they will be applying for OAS. They both were government employees back in India and are receiving pension there. So my question is:-
    1) Will their OAS benefits be reduced if they are receiving pension in India?
    2)They have made multiple trips to India in which everytime the stay was less than 6 months, so does that affect the 10 year period in Canada or not?


  35. If I left Canada at 20 years old am I entitled to any retirement benefits if I return before I turn 65? I worked from the time I was 16 years – 20 years old in Canada, but have spent the last 39 years working in the USA.
    Thank you for any information you can provide.

    • Hi Margaret – If you worked In Canada after you turned age 18, you will be eligible for a CPP retirement pension regardless if/when you return to Canada. The amount will be quite small though, with the maximum being approx. $28.50 for each year of maximum earnings. You may also be eligible for an OAS pension under the Canada/USA agreement, but the amount is only approx. $14.50 for every full year that you resided in Canada after age 18.

  36. I receive military pension from a country ( India) that does not have social security agreements with Canada. Will that affect my OAS and GIS eligibility

    • Hi Abraham – Is it considered a taxable income? If so, it would likely affect your GIS regardless whether there was a social security agreement or not. It would only ever affect your OAS if your net taxable income were above the “clawback” threshold (approx. $74,000 yearly.

  37. Hi Doug. my mother-in-law live in Canada for over 30 years . but never work. she is receiving old age pension and her husband supplement from is cpp he pass way couple months ago now she want to go live outside Canada is she entitle to old age pension and her husband supplement de same as if live in Canada. thank you

    • Hi Val – Yes, as long as your MIL has lived in Canada for at least 20 years after age 18, her OAS is payable outside Canada forever. If she is receiving the GIS also though, it will end once she has been gone for 6 months. If the pension that you’re calling her “husband’s supplement” is the CPP survivor’s pension, it is payable outside Canada forever.

  38. Hi Doug,

    My father is 74 years old. He came to Canada 8 years ago (at the age of 66) through Family Class Sponsorship Visa from India. He is currently a Canadian Citizen. He has no source of income as he never worked in Canada. I am just wondering if he is eligible to apply for OAS under the provision of the international social security agreement between Canada and India although he has not yet resided here for 10 years.

    Please advise.

    • Hi Jins – Yes, your father may be eligible for OAS under the Canada/India agreement, but the amount of his OAS would be 8/40ths of the full amount, based only on his actual years of residence in Canada.

  39. Doug,

    I am engaged to a man in the US. He is 65 years old and collects US SS. If he immigrates to Canada under Spousal Sponsorship and has permanent residency will he be able to claim CPP even though he has never worked in Canada? He still works, so he can make some contributions before 70. In addition, if he dies before me, will I be able to claim survivors benefits?


    • Hi Bee – Yes, if he works in Canada and contributes to CPP, he will qualify for a CPP retirement pension. If he contributes at the max amount for each of the next 5 years, his monthly CPP at age 70 would be approx. $243. If he has at least 5 years of contributions to the US social security, that should mean that you would qualify for death/survivor benefits under CPP, and you may also be eligible for survivor benefits under his US social security.

  40. Hi Doug,

    Very nice article.

    Whether this treaty exempts a Canadian Permanent resident from making mandatory CPP contribution?
    I moved to Canada on work permit and was not making CPP contribution but was making contribution to Indian pension plan. I got my permanent residency status 6 months back. But I am still not making CPP contribution. When I applied for a Mortgage, Mortgage lender is questioning my decision not to contribute to CPP. My understanding was that, under this treaty, I can contribute to any of the participating country.
    Would you be able to comment on this?

    • Hi Binu – I’m not an expert on the contributory aspect of any of the agreements, but I think there’s very limited options depending possibly on what your status is in Canada and what type of employer you’re working for. Revenue Canada would be the authority on this issue.

  41. This is a great website. I am late applying for OAP and am living in Asia where I worked as an ESL teacher.
    So to be brief, born in Montreal 1949, Canadian parents, lived in Canada almost full time until 2000, when I went to work in Asia as a teacher.

    I am within my time limite barely, and am telling the government that I worked on and off after 2000 in Asia, though went back to Canada for a couple of years in that time frame.

    I am sure I can get OAP and am applying through the Consulate.

    What makes me wonder is that for four years roughly, on and off, I lived in UK to see my grandparents there. My benefits would be nil, but does this complicate things?

    Should I tell them, they must know from the passports?

    Also 2004 March – 2005 August, January 2007 – June 2008 back in Canada, so about 15 years out of Canada in all…..

    • Hi Eleanor – Your OAS isn’t affected by any time that you lived in the UK, but all that you really have to tell them about is periods when you were residing in Canada. You’ll have to provide proof of dates of entry/exit from Canada though, because they don’t have access to any records themselves. You are definitely eligible for OAS, although possibly not the full basic amount of 40/40ths.

  42. Here’s an Off-The-Wall question for you…I worked 28 quarters in the US – the balance of my working life has been in Canada (I’m 74). I collect OAS/CPP….just recently, through the international agreements in place I was able to qualify for supplementary SocSec pension US based on my work history there. In the process of my investigations I was able to determine that my contributions to US Soc Sec totalled to $34,000.00 (USD) plus my employer contributed the same…..this was as of 2009 when I returned to Canada. Thus, $68,000.00 has been sitting in the US SocSec pool for almost 10 years……I am grateful that I qualified for the US SocSec benefits, but fact is, $68,000.00 + interest over 9 years, was rightfully mine – partial benefits for my working period in the US.
    However, my question is, should there not be some treaty or process that would allow me to reclaim the substantial contributions I made to Unemployment Insurance + Medicare, neither of which, as a TN worker I was allowed to avail myself of? It seems only fair, that once again, those monies formed a part of the benefits package borne by myself and my employer(s)……do you have any knowledge of this situation? Any guidance would be helpful.
    I want you to know that it was through your site here, and the various chats online, that I even discovered the existence of these international treaties……it took a year of processing but it finally paid off!

    Thank you Doug! It’s a very humane thing you are doing for us old guys……Bravo!

    • Hi Michael – I’m sorry, but my expertise is really limited to the CPP and OAS benefits, and understanding how these international social security agreements affects someone’s eligibility for benefits from those two programs. Glad to hear that my article helped you to become aware of your US benefits.

      • Thanks anyway Doug – was a long shot – someone must know – but don’t ever ask the government – they’ll just play dumb…..

  43. Hi Doug,

    I have read all your responses, it is very nice of you to answer all the questions here.

    I have a question too:-)

    Long story short, my mother is 73 years old and she has been spent last 15 years in Canada as a permanent resident. She has worked in China before 2002 and do receive pension from China.

    I am planing to apply OSA for her and wonder whether the fact of she is receiving pension from China will affect her application.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Sheila – No, whether or not your mother is receiving a pension from China would not affect her eligibility or entitlement under OAS, although it may reduce or eliminate any GIS entitlement.

  44. Hello,
    Which countries can I work in abroad and voluntarily pay CPP?
    As well as the 20 yrs a person must have lived in Canada in order to get OAS abroad that is 20 years as an adult or teenage years included?

  45. Hi Doug – thank you for this information. In my situation I am a nurse and have a total of about 7 years of working in the US on TN visa’s. So far I have worked about 25 years (post college) in Canada. So when it comes time to retire I will need to apply for both social security, CPP and OAP, and receive these benefits individually? Is this correct? Thanks

  46. Hi Doug,

    I lived and worked in Canada 2014-2018, 4 year working visa.
    I’ve since left Canada back to Australia (Australian citizen), is there any way to access or move my PPE to my Australian fund? I won’t be returning to live or work in Canada again.


    • Hi Todd – I’m not sure what PPE stands for, but if you mean CPP, the answer is “No”. You will however be eligible for a CPP retirement pension when you turn 65 (or as early as age 60 at a reduced rate), although the amount of that pension would only be about $120 per month (if your earnings were at the maximum level each year).

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