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How to apply for CPP

If you’ve been employed by a company throughout your working life, you’ll have made plenty of Canada Pension Plan payments. They’re automatically withdrawn from your paycheque, unless you’re ever self-employed, in which case you need to pay them with your taxes.

However, while paying into CPP is automatic, receiving CPP benefits is not: you have to apply for the Canada Pension Plan. You must fill in a CPP application form (or Canada Pension Plan application form) just before, or at some point after, you turn 60.

You can read our blog to find out how CPP works and another blog to learn about the five CPP benefits.

If you’re wondering, how do I apply for CPP, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we take a look at everything you need to know to have a successful CPP application; the Canada Pension Plan application process; the qualification criteria for CPP; information you’ll need before you apply for the Canada Pension Plan; how to apply for CPP at age 60; and when is the best time for you to make your CPP application.

CPP application qualification criteria

The CPP retirement benefit is a government pension plan that you receive every month after you retire and make a Canada Pension Plan application. To qualify for CPP, you must have worked in Canada and made at least one CPP contribution.

The amount you receive depends on how long you’ve made contributions and how much you’ve contributed. Before you make your Canada Pension Plan application, think hard about when to apply for CPP.

When can you apply for CPP? Up to 11 months before your 60th birthday, if you want to start receiving it as soon as you turn 60. How to apply for CPP at age 60 is the same as making a CPP application at any age, except you should apply at least six months before you turn 60 to ensure you start receiving it then.   

When you look into filling out your Canada Pension Plan Application form, you’ll find that it is designed to be drawn at age 65. You don’t need to worry about how to apply for CPP before age 65, the process is the same as applying any time between age 60 and 70. What you do need to worry about is how much you’ll receive. The earlier you put in your application for a Canada Pension Plan retirement pension, the less you’ll get (36% less if you make a CPP application at 60). Conversely, if you submit your CPP application form at age 70, you’ll receive an extra 42%.

So, when to apply for CPP depends on whether you need to receive more money for less time or if you can manage on less for longer. If you think you may live a long life, it could make sense to submit your CPP application form six months before you turn 70.

Information you’ll need for your Canada Pension Plan application

A straightforward CPP application requires fairly little in the way of documentation. You’ll just need the following:

  • Your SIN number
  • Your current account banking details
  • Your spouse’s SIN number, if you are looking to pension share
  • Your children’s SIN numbers and birth certificates, if you want to request the child-rearing provision* on your CPP application form

How do I apply for CPP?

There are two ways to submit an application for a Canada Pension Plan retirement pension: online or with a paper CPP application form.

Most people can apply for the Canada Pension Plan online, and it’s pretty easy:

  • Open a My Service Canada Account (MSCA) if you don’t already have one.
  • You will see an estimate of the CPP you’ll receive in your MSCA.
  • Answer the questions on your CPP application form.
  • Once you submit your application, you’ll receive a notification that it’s been received.
  • You’ll receive the decision within 14 days.

You must apply for your Canada Pension Plan with a paper CPP application if:

  • You’ve ever received or been denied a CPP benefit
  • You live outside of Canada
  • If a third party (like a power of attorney) manages your finances

How to apply with a paper CPP application — thankfully, the process is also fairly easy:

Download the Canada Pension Plan application form.

Print out the form, complete it and either drop it off at your nearest Service Canada office or mail it to the nearest Service Canada office on this list.

The application form is easy to fill in, you just need to submit a few personal details, your bank information and your children’s details, if you’re requesting the child-rearing provision.

What if the CPP isn’t enough for your retirement plans?

Now you know how to apply for CPP, the next questions are, how much will you receive, and will it be enough? Typically, CPP and Old Age Security combined only cover the most essential daily living expenses. If you don’t also have a decent pension or RRSP income, you may struggle to make ends meet.

A CHIP Reverse Mortgage from HomeEquity can help boost your retirement income to a level that can make your retirement much more comfortable. It is effectively a loan based on the equity you have in your home — qualification is based on your home’s value and your age, not your income or credit score.

The best part is that there are no regular mortgage payments to make — you only pay back what you owe when you sell up or move out, so it won’t make a dent in your retirement income. And you can receive the money in regular, monthly payments or one lump sum.

Call us at 1-866-522-2447 to find out how much you could borrow to boost your CPP payments.

* The child-rearing provision can increase your CPP benefits if you took time off work to look after your young children.