When Should You Apply for Your Pension in Canada?

Canada Pension Plan payments are not automatic, meaning you need to apply to enjoy monthly payments, but when should you apply? Properly timing the application for CPP payments is vital to minimize gaps in income and enjoy a smooth transition into retirement.

When should you apply for CPP benefits, the steps involved in the application process, and the specifics of early applications are important to understand to effectively plan for retirement.

When Should You Apply for CPP Payments?

To apply for CPP, you must be at least 60 years old and have made at least one valid contribution. A valid contribution comes from work you did in Canada or credits from a former spouse. The processing time to get approved for CPP is generally 7 to 14 days for online applications and up to 120 days for mail-in remittances.

The standard age that many Canadians start pension payments is 65; however, some individuals may start as early as 60 or as late as 70. The amount you receive depends on how much you contributed over your lifetime and the age you apply at.

What are the Steps Involved in Applying?

Once you determine you are ready to apply for CPP, there are a few different steps you will need to take. First, you want to be sure you qualify based on the two-part test outlined above. Next, you will need to determine when you want your payments to start. Do you want to receive payments as soon as you qualify or on another specific date? Applying ahead and selecting the date you need payments can reduce any potential delays.

After you choose your tentative start date, you will need to decide how you want to apply. The Government of Canada allows you to apply online, in person, or by mail. Online applications get processed much quicker compared to the other two options. Once your application is submitted, you can review the status through your My Service Canada account.

Are There Advantages or Disadvantages to Applying Early?

You can apply for CPP payments as early as 60 years old, but the payments you receive will be smaller compared to waiting until 65 or 70. This is the top disadvantage of applying earlier. Furthermore, there’s no additional benefit to applying after the age of 70 as the maximum payment amount is reached when you turn 70.

Deciding to apply early depends on your financial situation. Do you have other streams of income to support you during retirement or are you still working? If you have another steady stream of income that supports your lifestyle, you may want to wait until 65 or 70 to apply. However, you want to be sure you are applying by age 70 to start receiving the benefits you are entitled to. Waiting until after 70 results in lost payments.


Determining when the best time for you to apply for CPP can be confusing, which is why the team at NRK Accounting is here to help. Reach out to one of our team members today to go over your situation and find the most favorable time to apply.

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