Tag Archives: CPP

Only Child warns pensioners to be wary of government pension setup

Only child contemplated government red tape with pensions

Only child contemplates government red tape with pensions

When my late dad turned 65, the Canada Pension Plan was just coming into existence. The CPP was legislated in 1965 and came into effect in 1966 . So, of course Dad never paid into the CPP when he worked for the CNR as it was then called. Of course CNR paid a pension. My mother died before she reached 65.  Dad died at 66.

Fast forward many years and my generation – the so-called baby boomers-  are dealing with the current federal government pension plans and Guaranteed Income Supplement. And if you think once we sign up and get approved it is all smooth-sailing and we will get our regular monthly increments, sometimes with additions, think again.

There are many Federal Rules and Regulations that can screw up those receiving pensions. I know this from first-hand experience.

Because I can’t afford to retire (I didn’t say the pensions etc. were enough to live on), I still am self-employed. I am grateful that I am doing something I love (writing, editing, teaching writing) and would probably chose to do so until age 70. Then I would just write – to me, writing is for a lifetime. However, how many pensioners who have to work to make ends meet are working at something they love?

To make a long story short, if you are still self-employed and getting CPP you can elect to still contribute until you are 70.

Watch it here folks. If your self-employment income (after business deductions) is below a certain amount, you don’t have to pay into the CPP for that tax year. So, I followed this rule, didn’t have to pay,  and the powers that be at CPP punished me for that.

The b******* clawed back my CPP.  The monthly decrease is a mere $1.47 so I’m not quibbling about that. But they arbitrarily decided to deduct all the difference in the same month’s payment instead of spreading it over 12 months. And they pick a month barely three months from when they send you the notice letter so that if you do dispute it (which I did) your three months timeline for disputing runs into that month of cut-off. Yes, I disputed, after contacting my MP, and did the dispute for lots of time for the CPP rulers to do as the letter said can be done – have a different set of CPP rulers go over my situation.

Well, I got notice that I’m not getting it reversed. This notice came after the full clawback deduction in May’s payment. Their excuse? Legislation says they can’t repay once they do the clawback, once it is taken off. What do you want to bet they didn’t even bother to re-check it?

Sure, there is more procedure if I disagree. I am planning to take all that to my MP and hope his office will help me with that.

But in the meantime I’ve run into more government red tape – with the Guaranteed Income
Supplement (GIS). I did apply for it originally (as per government instructions) when I applied for the OAS.  Last year I got notice from the government (read Service Canada – they do all the government dirty work with us citizens) that I would be receiving the GIS monthly – how much extra, that it would be added on to my OAS for one payment, plus the first month of all that I would get a lump sum for past months.

Great. I thought.

My suspicious radar should have been on alert. June 30, this year, I received another application form for 2016 and 2017 GIS. I thought once you applied that was it. I did know they could claw back if your taxable  income went up too much. Well, for 2015 my taxable income went down, enough to put me below the poverty level for a single person (according to the Ontario Government). I thought they got the information about a person’s income from the CRA (they do; I checked with Service Canada). I always file my income taxes and on time. And this year for a change I don’t seem to have made any math errors. (And yes, I signed out of paying anymore into the CPP.) So, why are they sending me this application form, which arrived June 30, when the note with it says that if I don’t fill in this form and get it in by June 30, my GIS could be stopped until they receive it and then I would get reimbursed and the payments would continue?

What? Okay, if  I have to reapply, fine. Just get the damn form to me on time to do so.

I phoned Service Canada June 30 afternoon right after receiving this nonsense in the mail. The fellow I talked to checked into my account and said there was money there in my account to be paid in July. But he suggested that I fill out the form and deliver it to Service Canada on Monday just to be on the safe side.

Which I did. I had questions for the Service Canada employee at one of the desks. After waiting 30 minutes to do so, this fellow was not very helpful and wasn’t very polite either. He did give me one piece of information for filling in my form but he wouldn’t check into my account to see if the money there is OAS only or includes the GIS. His excuse “We don’t have the means to do this like where you phone Service Canada.”

Oh, please. Now I have to waste another 20 minutes to half an hour on hold at Service Canada and also worry if I filled in the form correctly because I just sat down at one of the tables and finished filling in the form and then handed it in at the front. I did find it is sent by courier, not Canada Post, so if there is a Canada Post strike it won’t be stuck in regular mail.

And if you think this is just me whining, think again. Some of my friends have told me similar stories of what has happened to them.

If any of you reading this have any bad dealings with your government pensions, I would like to hear.

Meantime, I’m going to set up an appointment later this month with my MP.

But first, I have some client work to finish. That got slowed down because of all this government red tape.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under finances, Income Taxes, Old Age pensions, Only child

Only Child always living in survival mode

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

I am constantly living in survival mode and I’m fed up with it all. As I seem to get rid of one obstacle two more show up. So, here is more of my Why I Hate the World I Live In list. It is only partial, or we would be here until Easter.

1. The Federal Government has cut back on my Canada Pension Plan payments. They are saying I wasn’t making enough in my business to contribute enough, so from 2012 to now, they are cutting back each month. The cutback is only $1.00 and some odd cents a month and I’m not complaining about that. My beef is that they are deducting the whole difference for my May payment. That will cut into my meagre monthly food budget as I have nowhere else to cut. It’s the fault of these uncivil servants in the CPP department – they are supposed to be monitoring the situation but why every four years? I didn’t even know they could cut back and arbitrarily steal the money back. Not that it is much for me, but I am going to need every penny I can get (see points 2 and 3 below). I can dispute it and will do so formally but all they might do is spread out the amount they are taking back. And to call the CPP part of Service Canada, I had to go through my MP’s office and she connected me through the French line. Even she couldn’t get through even to wait in line for the next available person. At least the French guy spoke good English and gave me good information so I can proceed with my dispute, etc.

2. Problems with weather and animal-related (read “God” here) damage outside that will require repairs. Actually for the minor expense one, my handyman shares the blame with God’s windy weather. He didn’t put a new downspout extension in one spot or secure the old one enough, so it’s fallen off and I can’t get it or the new ones (yes, I did buy the new) on. He is waffling about when he can get here to fix it and no doubt take more money from me. The animal-God one. I will need new eavestroughs this spring because the middle of one on the far side of the house is bent out like a boat. So in heavy rainfalls (like we had last week and yes, some water did get in my basement from it) the water just p0urs off the side of the eavestrough there and onto the ground and seeps into my basement. The latter part is Nigel Applewaite’s fault for his faulty sealing job in 2011. But most of the blame is raccoons  on the roof and raccoons are nature, so from God. I talked to Mike about this last week. He was the one who found this problem late last fall when he was putting up the heating cables. Now I find out he doesn’t do eavestroughs and he says those who do usually don’t replace just the one side but do the whole thing. He said he would check with his colleagues on that. I told him to emphasize to them that I’m a senior living below the poverty level. My ex-husband would pay for half of this, and I might be able to manage half for one eavestrough side, except for No. 3 below.

3. One of my repeat editing clients needed me to edit her latest book. We agreed that because I was meeting a publisher’s submission deadline with my latest Beyond mystery book, that I would edit her book in March – as long as I finished by the end of March. I finished the Beyond book a few days early and when I emailed her about the edit, her reply was she had already had her book edited by someone else. At first I said I was glad that she got her book manuscript edited. Now, it’s a different story. I’m mulling over what I will do here besides keep trying to get more clients to start work with now. I have some for April on.

4. This one is a health issue. According to my optometrist I could lose the sight in one eye – because he didn’t tell me the whole story at the year before’s eye exam and didn’t follow up. All he told me back then was some pressure in the left eye and may need eye drops, so he wanted me to come back in soon. I decided to wait until I got my new glasses and got used to them. Then I got busy with other stuff and forgot. He should have had his receptionist or whatever her title is – phone to remind me a month or so later if it was so important. Would I have gone in then? Yes, if before late June last year when all the other health issues came at me, overlapping. End of this January when I went in for my annual check-up he chastised me for not making an appointment and included that I would have seen a specialist then. Excuse me. He never mentioned going to a specialist back then. I was too shocked and worried to give him hell for that, but I probed and probed about what it was all about and why couldn’t he prescribe the drops. Optometrists can do that. He didn’t give me an answer. So next Tuesday I’m off to the opthamalogist’s to get my death sentence.

Because if I lose any of my senses (and I have partial hearing loss in my left ear, but can manage so far with that), I’m ready to do a James Darren. Well, not Mr. Darren himself, but some of you may remember one of his first big hit in 1961, “Goodbye Cruel World.” Unlike him I won’t be joining any circus. Hey, I may not be able to see the tightrope, let alone the non-existent safety net in this world.

The odd thing here about my sight is the actual vision is exactly the same as last year when I had to get new glasses. So, my glasses have helped here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Filed under Eavestroughs and dowspouts, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Only child, Opticians and Optometrists, Poverty, Vision

Only Child on federal election and poverty levels

Only child ponders upcoming Canadian Federal election

Only child ponders upcoming Canadian Federal election

With the Canadian federal election coming up October 19, one issue that keeps coming up is the middle class versus the rich. Yes, the middle class seems to be disappearing, but disappearing to where? Much of it has fallen into the poverty level of living, if you can call that living.

The worst of poverty “living” is social welfare or as it is called in Ontario – Ontario Works. A study done by Poverty Free Ontario shows 2011 (latest year statistics available apparently) statistics for those living on Ontario Works compared to those not on Ontario Works who live at the poverty level. For example, a single adult living alone in Ontario on Ontario Works gets $7,452 a year, compared to a single adult not on OW but who is in the poverty level of $19,930.

Although Ontario Works clients received a small increase last November there is still a big gap between the two figures. Much of that blame goes to a former Conservative premier Mike Harris who reduced Ontario Works payments in half in the 1990s.

The title of a report on children living in poverty in Toronto, Ontario, Canada  says it all.  “Toronto holds onto its shameful title: Child poverty capital of Canada”  The study states that 28.6 per cent of children in Toronto live below the poverty level, with that percentage changing with specific areas of Toronto.

Today, Toronto is releasing its 20-year busting poverty plan. City councillor in charge is Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell. There is a long list of what is to be implemented during the 20 years. And a list of low income categories appears at the end.

Here are links to the above stories:

http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/10/13/toronto-holds-onto-its-shameful-title-child-poverty-capital-of-canada.html

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/06/23/toronto-releases-20-year-poverty-busting-plan.html

All very well. But seniors aren’t listed.

In fact in all these reports, there is not much about seniors living below the poverty level. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m one of those. And this election doesn’t do much to address seniors financial and health issues, in my opinion. The Liberals’ Justin Trudeau keeps talking about the middle class versus the rich. Stephen Harper and the Conservatives already raised the eligible age for receiving the Old Age Pension to age 67. NDP leader Tom Mulhaire wants to raise the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

As a senior I am grateful for what I receive. But not grateful for what I have no choice to eliminate from my life because of limited finances. Unfortunately most of that is in the health area, a lot of which is not covered by OHIP, the Ontario provincial health plan. Outside the plan, I focus on eye care, although eye tests are covered by OHIP once you reach 65. But glasses aren’t. Neither is dental – it never was unless you had dental surgery in a hospital. I have a dentist but can’t afford him. I can’t afford audiologists (except if they offer free hearing testing). Physio-therapy, which might help my osteo-arthritis, has reduced coverage. Many medical tests are no longer covered by OHIP thanks to former Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuilty (as my friend calls him) – don’t excuse me here – McGuinty, kicking some of them off the covered list.

Case in point. Three years ago I had what appeared to be a severe Vitamin D deficiency. If I had gone for blood tests to determine this, I would have paid. So, I played guinea pig, taking mega-doses of Vitamin D from late fall to early spring. It seems to have worked. And getting extra health insurance coverage (read “private”) is out of the question – not when there is a cap on coverage in total dollar amount and percentage – now 80 per cent instead of the 95 to 98 per cent coverage you could get in the 1990s. Not when you choose your coverage a la carte and pay high monthly premiums.

The Toronto report on poverty being released today lists areas where improvements need to be made. I hope more dental coverage for low income residents is in the next few years. Some of us seniors may not be around for the next 20 years.

No wonder many people are finding it difficult to choose who to vote for next Monday. Many of us want to get Harper out. We may end up with a minority government of NDP or Liberal. Would they join in a coalition government? Would that be a good thing?

Only time will tell.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Goverment Legislation, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Progressive Conservatives, Seniors