At what age should you apply for your QPP pension?

14 March 2022 by National Bank
Lady reflecting on her retirement plan while gardening.

Retiring doesn’t mean that you stop being active. Quite the contrary. And it doesn’t mean that you should apply for your Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits right away. The pension you receive depends on your contributions to the plan and your age. Is it worth waiting a few years to get a higher payment? Read on for the answer.

Who is eligible for the QPP retirement pension? 

Anyone who has contributed to the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) for at least one year. Since contributions are compulsory, that means just about anyone who receives a salary in Quebec contributes.  

Who contributes to the Quebec Pension Plan?  

All workers, who: 

  • are 18 or over 
  • have employment income of more than $3,500 (including self-employment income) 

Want to know how much you’ll get? 

Every four years, you should receive a statement of participation from Retraite Québec (formerly known as the Régie des rentes du Québec). This document shows how much you’ll be entitled to if you apply for the QPP at 60  or 65 years of age. You can also consult it online in the My Account service and choose to receive digital statements.  

Be sure to read our article, “How much should you save for your retirement?” 

Did you work in another province? 

You likely paid into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In that case, Retraite Québec will calculate how much you’re entitled to considering your contributions to the CPP.  

No longer live in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada? 

You’re still entitled to a pension if you contributed to the QPP.  

You cannot receive the QPP retirement pension if: 

  • You’re receiving an unreduced income replacement indemnity from the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST) 
  • You’re entitled to an indemnity from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and Retraite Québec has deemed you to be disabled. 

However, if you’re deemed disabled by Retraite Québec before age 65 and you have contributed enough to the QPP, you’ll be eligible for the Quebec Pension Plan disability pension

When should you apply for the QPP retirement pension?  

You have several options. If you apply for your QPP pension: 

  • As of 60: You can apply for your pension whether or not you’re still working. However, it’s important to know that you won’t receive the full amount. 
  • At 65: You’ll receive 100% of your pension amount 
  • After 65 and until 70: Your pension will be over 100%  

The amount of the QPP pension changes depending on the age you start collecting it. But that’s not all. It also changes according to the number of years you contributed to the plan and your employment income when you were contributing.  

Applying for the QPP pension at 60 

If you apply for your pension at 60, it will be reduced by 0.5% to 0.6% for each month until you turn 65. That penalty adds up quickly: 

After 1 year:  your pension will be reduced by about 7.2% 

After 5 years: your pension will be 36% lower 

However, taking the QPP pension early can be justified in some situations. For example: 

  • If your other sources of income or savings do not allow you to maintain your quality of life  
  • If you cannot keep working  
  • If you have a reduced life expectancy because of your health or family history 

At death: Your spouse could be entitled to the surviving spouse's pension

Our advisors can help you plan your retirement. 

Make an appointment

Applying for the QPP pension at 65 or later 

There are at least three good reasons to wait until you’re 65 or older to apply for your pension: 

  • Most obvious reason: the amount will increase by 8.4% a year until you’re 70. Plus, the QPP pension is indexed annually (adjusted to take into account inflation). You’ll be rewarded at 70: you’ll receive 142% more than you would have at 65.  
  • Work now, enjoy more later. The QPP pension is payable for the rest of your life. If you have a good life expectancy, wait until you become less employable. It’s often easy to make up a reduction in income by working a bit before you’re 70. 
  • It’s protected from inflation. While inflation is a major factor to consider when calculating retirement income, the QPP pension is one of the rare pensions that is fully indexed. It’s protected from inflation no matter when you apply for it. 

Even though you can apply for your pension as of 60, most people would be wise to wait a while before they apply, because it’s generally more beneficial to apply for it after 65. 

Your amounts at a glance 

Retraite Québec offers you a table of your maximum monthly pension based on your age. Even if you’re not applying for your pension right away, you can consult My Account at Retraite Québec to get an estimate of the amounts you’ll receive.  

A word of advice to get the most from your Quebec pension: consult a financial planner for help determining the best option for your retirement. 

The QPP retirement pension supplement 

Retiring gradually. You can claim your retirement pension at 60 and still work part-time or full-time. In this case, you’ll receive your pension and continue to contribute to the Plan (if your earnings exceed $3,500). 

You’ll then be entitled to the retirement pension supplement. The supplement is automatically added to your pension the year after you contribute. The supplement is added to your pension for the rest of your life and will continue to increase each year you work. 

This could add up for anyone who decides to go back to work. 

How to apply for the QPP pension 

You won’t receive your pension automatically, you have to apply for it through Retraite Québec. Plan to apply 1 to 3 months before the date you want to begin receiving your pension. 

Payment frequency: the QPP pension is paid on the last business day of every month. If you sign up for direct deposit in your QPP file, payment will be made directly into your bank account. 

Do you live outside Canada? 

In some countries or territories, your pension can be paid via direct deposit in the local currency. Do you live in Mexico or the United States and would like your pension paid in Mexican pesos or U.S. dollars? No problem. Look at the list of locations for international direct deposit.  

Online tools can help you make an informed decision:  

  • SimulR (to estimate your retirement income) 
  • CompuPension (to simulate your retirement income using your personal data from the QPP)  

Be sure to carry out a few simulations with your financial planner too before you apply for your Quebec pension. 

Did you change your mind? 

You have 6 months from the date of your first pension payment to cancel your request. That’s it, only 6 months. After this time and regardless of your age, your decision cannot be reversed. So it’s an important decision to make when planning your retirement finances.    

Apply for other government pensions 

The QPP pension isn’t the only source of income from governments. There’s also: 

  • The Old Age Security (OAS) pension. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you could start receiving this pension as of 65 (even if you’re still working). But be warned: unlike the QPP pension, the OAS can be reduced and even clawed back entirely depending on your income. You can choose to defer it in order to increase it (to a maximum increase of 36% if wait until you’re 70). Read our article Old Age Security in Canada (OAS)
  • The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The GIS is added to the OAS pension of low-income Canadians aged 65 and over. To learn more, read our article What is the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)? 

When combined with other retirement plans (like RRSPs or the TFSA), government benefits like the QPP retirement pension can help you reach your retirement goals. Because the age at which you apply for some benefits can affect their amount, be sure to consult specialists to make choices that are right for you.

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