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Over a lifetime of work, most Canadians contribute a little of their pay to the Canada Pension Plan. Then, it's payback time. The CPP retirement benefit offers an inflation-adjusted monthly payment for life, but you need to do some planning to get the best bang for your buck.

The standard age for starting Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits is 65. However, you can take a reduced benefit as early as age 60 or receive larger benefits by waiting as long as age 70.This calculator offers a rough estimate of whether to it makes sense to take CPP early, at 65 or delay. A lot has to do with your expected lifespan. Consider your own health, your family history and try one or two of the many online lifespan calculators available. Also, this calculator relies on the latest estimate of your CPP entitlement. Your actual CPP retirement benefit could vary, depending on when you retire and whether your earnings between now and your retirement date rise or fall.

CPP benefits can start as early as age 60 or as late as age 70.

The average life expectancy in Canada is 84 for men and 87 for women.

The 2018 annual maximum is $13,601.00 and the average benefit is $7,700/year.
You can view your CPP details by setting up a My Service Canada account.

The CPP benefit is lowered by 0.6 per cent for each month taken before 65
and increased by 0.7 per cent for each month taken after age 65


Total benefits at the
end of your expected lifespan

How your CPP benefits compare

If you start CPP at 65 $7,700/year from age 65, adjusted for inflation at 2% annually
If you start CPP at your chosen age Adjusted for 2% inflation and your planned age for starting CPP

Note: The results of this calculator do not reflect the CPP enhancements announced in 2016, which will require gradually higher contributions for employers and workers and result in higher retirement benefits in the coming years.

Calculated benefits are estimated based on full years including both the starting and ending year.

The Globe and Mail CPP calculator can help you assess the most beneficial time to start your CPP retirement benefits. For more help in understanding your retirement benefits, consult this Q&A:

What is the monthly maximum CPP retirement benefit in 2018?

$1,134.17 is the maximum for someone starting their CPP at age 65, or $13,610 per year.

What is the average monthly CPP benefit?

$641.63 for people starting their CPP payments at age 65 as of last October, or $7,699.56 per year.

Why the big differential between the average and the maximum?

Doug Runchey of DR Pensions Consulting said it's because some people aren't working for enough years or their earnings through their career are too low.

Can you get CPP if you have never been in the workforce?

To qualify, you must have worked and contributed to the CPP.

How are CPP payments adjusted for inflation?

Benefits are adjusted every year in January based on changes in the inflation rate as tracked by Statistics Canada's consumer price index.

How do I find out how much CPP I am entitled to receive?

Request a copy of your CPP Statement of Contributions (SOC) from Service Canada at 1-800-277-9914, or online at My Service Canada Account.

How are benefits calculated?

If you take the CPP at 65 and older, your retirement benefit is calculated using your highest 39 years of earnings from age 18 to present, ignoring other factors (see below). At age 60, your best 34.8 years are used.

What caveats are there about estimates of CPP entitlement?

Mr. Runchey said the SOC estimates "pretend" that you're age 60 or 65 right now, which has the same effect as projecting your current lifetime average earnings until those ages. If you get laid off or start working part time in the years before retirement, you could have less of a retirement benefit. Conversely, an increase in earnings could leave you with a higher than projected benefit. "If you're 58 now, the age 60 estimate is going to be fairly accurate," Mr. Runchey said.

What are maximum annual pensionable earnings, and what does this term mean?

The maximum for 2018 is $55,900. You must contribute to the CPP on earnings from employment up to the maximum, and you cannot contribute on earnings above that level. The maximum will rise to an in the years ahead as a result of CPP enhancements announced in 2016.

How does the child-rearing dropout provision work?

If you were primary caregiver for your children under age seven, the period of time where you were raising your kids may be excluded from the calculations of your retirement benefit. Basically, years of zero or minimal earnings will not drag down your higher earning years.

What if I was out of the workforce for a few years, or in a low-paying job?

There is a general dropout provision that allows everyone to drop out the lowest 17 per cent of their contributory years. If taking their CPP at age 65, this works out to eight years.

What is the CPP post-retirement benefit, and how much could it add to my monthly CPP income?

A post-retirement benefit (PRB) is payable if you have earnings and make CPP contributions after you start receiving your CPP retirement pension. In 2018, the maximum monthly PRB payable to a 65-year-old from a single year of contributions is $28.35. That's in addition to the maximum $1,134.17 for a 65-year-old this year.

How does the CPP survivor's benefit work?

The survivor's pension is paid to the legal spouse or common-law partner of a deceased CPP contributor. The amount depends on several factors, including your age, whether you are receiving CPP benefits yourself and the contributions the deceased spouse made to the CPP. The maximum CPP survivor's benefit for 2018 at age 65 is $680.50, and the average amount for new beneficiaries at age 65 and older as of last October was $308.66. The money is normally paid for life.

What is the process for applying to start receiving a CPP retirement benefit before, at and after age 65?

You do not automatically receive CPP. Instead, you must apply online or by mail. To apply, you must be at least a month past your 59th birthday, have worked in Canada and made at least one valid contribution to the CPP and want your CPP retirement benefits to begin within 12 months.

What documentation do you need to apply?

For online applications, you'll need banking information to set up direct deposit of your benefits and the date you would like your pension to start. For paper, you'll need your social insurance number as well.

What is the typical period of time between application for benefits and the start of benefits?

Online applicants should receive a written confirmation of entitlement within a month that lists a start date for benefits and the amount to be paid. With written applications, you should contact the CPP if you have not received a confirmation notice within three months of your requested start date.

Do recipients have the option of paper cheques and direct deposit?

Yes, but 96.8 per cent of CPP retirement benefits are paid by direct deposit

What are the payment dates for CPP benefits?

Dates vary, but they're generally in the last week of the month. Specific dates for 2018 can be found here (for print: at

If you procrastinate on applying for CPP, can you claim benefits retroactively to a certain date (say, your 65th birthday)?

Mr. Runchey said there is no retroactivity if under age 65. Over age 65, you can claim payments back as far as 11 months prior to the month you apply.

How confident should you be that the CPP will be around to pay the benefits you expect?

"Very confident." – Alexandra Macqueen, co-author of Pensionize Your Nest Egg and a certified financial planner (CFP).

"While there will be times where 'fine tuning' is required, I am very comfortable with the solvency of the program and the way things are now managed by the CPP." – Daryl Diamond, CFP and author of Your Retirement Blueprint.