The CRA loves progress, except when it comes to helping seniors

ARC likes progress, except when it’s to help the elders

DAY

The news that the Federal Notice of Assessment was missing caused quite a stir.

For those who missed it, the Revenue Agency of Canada (CRA) is considering communicating with taxpayers electronically only, starting January 1st. 

Too bad for the collateral victims of “progress”, those less comfortable with technology and those who do not have access to a computer. 

At the federal level, “progress” is a concept with variable geometry. 

At least that is what we conclude after listening to Francine's story.

This 82-year-old retiree must fill out a paper form to recover her Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The process of getting your hands on the document is archaic and time-consuming. Internet ? It's as if it didn't exist.

GIS after loss of income

Let's take the time to relate how this lady got entangled in the maze of the machine, the story is educational in terms of personal finance.

In June 2021, Francine exhausted her Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), which caused a sudden drop in her cash inflows. This loss, fortunately, can be partially offset by the GIS, a supplement to the federal Old Age Security pension provided for less affluent seniors.

The GIS to which a retired person is entitled is fixed for a period of 12 months, from July (2021) to June (2022), and this amount is calculated on the basis of the declared income of the year preceding (2020) the application . I indicate years so that you follow well, because it is easy to get lost. They correspond to the chronology in Francine's story. 

If the RRIF is dried up during the year, immediate access to the GIS opens despite what was declared the previous year, but not automatically. The retiree must fill out a form (ISP-3041) which basically consists of declaring to the Old Age Security program: “I certify that I have exhausted my RRIF, please do not consider my income for the last year to estimate my current income. » 

Once this is established, the GIS can be paid the following month.

Francine did that right, except she plays a trick a year later.

When the time came to assess the amount of GIS to which the retiree was entitled from July 2022 to June 2023, we went back to see her income for the previous year, and since the lady had withdrawn from January to June 2021, which remained in her RRIF, it was concluded that her income was too high, so her GIS was cut off.

The error is that Francine should have once again declared the exhaustion of her RRIF using the same form ISP-3041.

It's not too late to do it, but what a nightmare! 

Form sent by post

It was only after some time that the elderly woman understood why she had suddenly lost the GIS. She can retrieve it retroactively thanks to the famous form.

Only, the document does not exist in PDF format, it cannot be downloaded anywhere. The first time, Francine made the request by post, with a handwritten letter, the process took more than a month. 

This time, she tried by phone. After three hours of hanging around on the Service Canada line, she gave up. Another option: she can go to the counter of a Service Canada office to get it, but it's the endless wait in line guaranteed, not ideal when you travel with a cane.

The lady therefore fell back on the post office. On the envelope, as if to speed things up, she wrote boldly “Urgent”. His monthly shortfall amounts to $300.

Unknown to several elders

This is not the first elderly person to testify to the difficulties of getting their hands on this damned three-page form. Worse: many retirees are unaware of its existence. 

Denis Perrin, mutual fund representative at Mica in Trois-Rivières, regularly does this process for clients. Each time, he encounters different pitfalls. 

” This year, after 34 minutes of waiting on the phone, a Service Canada employee told me that they were not sending him more by mail and that I had to go in person to the Service Canada office to get it. When I got there, I had to wait 45 minutes, show an ID, and finally be told that they were no longer giving this form to the advisers! “, he says. 

According to his experience, the answer varies from one official to another.

Long live progress!

The RCAF likes progress, except when it comes to helping the elderly

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