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Involuntary separation

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Do you know the benefits of involuntary separation?

Involuntary separation is a government initiative that allows senior couples living apart for reasons beyond their control to access a number of financial benefits.

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What is involuntary separation?

When spouses or common-law partners live apart for reasons beyond their control, in tax jargon this is referred to as “involuntary separation.”

For example, this may occur when a person moves into a residential and long-term care facility (CHSLD) while their spouse remains at home. This change in a couple’s life can have major financial repercussions: the costs of housing the person in a CHSLD are added to the housing costs of the other spouse.

In situations of involuntary separation, Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) or Allowance (ALC) payments may be calculated on the basis of individual income for each member of the couple, rather than combined income. As a general rule, the lower the income, the higher the amounts received. Following an involuntary separation, benefits can therefore increase, since the income of one person is normally lower than the combined family income of the couple.

To qualify for involuntary separation, the couple must meet the following criteria:

  • Be married or in a common-law relationship
  • Be 65 years of age or older (one of the two partners)
  • Living separately (i.e., no longer under the same roof)
  • Receive an Old Age Security (OAS) pension

Note: The Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Allowance are payments available to low-income earners. The individual income of each spouse may exceed the maximum threshold for these federal benefits.

In addition to its impact on federal benefits, involuntary separation can have an effect on certain tax credits in Quebec, notably the solidarity tax credit. This is a refundable tax credit designed to help low- and middle-income households.

How do you access the program?

At the federal level

You can contact Service Canada by mail, in person, by telephone or online.

  • By mail: Service Canada, PO Box 1816, Terminus Station, Quebec City (QC), G1K 7L5
  • In person: at a Service Canada office
  • By telephone: 1 800 277-9915
  • Online: Service Canada— My Account

Two forms must be completed:

  • Form ISP3040 (Statement—Spouses or Common-law Partners Living Apart for Reasons beyond their Control). The reasons why the two spouses or common-law partners are living apart must be explained in Section B of this form.
  • Form ISP3025 (Application for the Guaranteed Income Supplement).

Service Canada will review the file, taking into account the reasons given for the involuntary separation and the income of both spouses. The file review may show that the involuntary separation is not advantageous to the couple or to either spouse.

You should not delay in informing the government of the involuntary separation. Payments can be made retroactively for up to the last 11 months, once the involuntary separation has been accepted and processed by the government.

In Quebec

To request an adjustment to the solidarity tax credit, it is important to report the involuntary separation to Revenu Québec as soon as it occurs. Don’t wait until your next tax return to report the change.

  • Quebec City region: 418 266-1016
  • Montréal region: 514 940-1481
  • Elsewhere in Canada or the U.S.: 1 855 291-6467 (toll-free)
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