Due to challenging financial circumstances, an increasing number of Canadians continue to work despite reaching the standard retirement age of 65.
So, it came as no surprise that I’m often asked: Can I collect EI when I retire?
Plenty of complex variables can make a difference in whether or not you can qualify for pension plans and EI benefits during your retirement. I will unpack some of the factors surrounding the subject matter to give you a better idea.
Can I Collect EI When I Retire?
An important aspect to note here is that the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) administers the EI program. The program provides both regular and special benefit payments. Workers have to contribute to the program through deductions from their salaries.
Regular EI benefits are paid to eligible employees who lose their job through no fault of their own. Typically, it can include workers terminated because of restructuring and workers who work in seasonal industries.
However, if you choose to retire at your own discretion, you can’t qualify for EI benefits. Optional retirement doesn’t fall into any of the EI program’s special benefits categories. On the other hand, regular benefits are also not for workers who choose to stop working.
Assuming that your retirement was forced due to any of the conditions mentioned in the special benefits eligibility requirements, you may receive EI benefits after retirement.
Another situation in which you can qualify to receive EI benefits is when your reason to stop working was a just cause. However, you have to substantiate to the CEIC that quitting the job was the only reasonable option for you even though you would have preferred to continue working.
The CEIC may consider the following as justifiable reasons to quit and may qualify you for regular EI benefits in retirement:
- The need to move with a spouse or dependent child to another place of residence;
- Sexual or other forms of harassment at the workplace;
- Discrimination at the workplace;
- Working conditions that endanger your health and safety;
- Having to care for a child or another immediate member of your family;
- Significant changes in your job that may affect your salary;
- A reasonable assurance that you have another job lined up in the immediate future (technically, you wouldn’t be retiring in this scenario);
- Excessive overtime, or your employer refuses to pay for overtime work;
- Substantial changes in your work duties;
- Challenging relations with a supervisor, provided you are not primarily responsible for it;
- Your employer is breaking the law;
- Discrimination due to membership in an organization, association, or union of workers; and
- Pressure from your colleagues or employer to quit your job.
Provided that you chose to stop working due to any of the conditions highlighted above, it is possible to receive regular EI benefits while receiving your pensions.
The OAS pension does not affect your eligibility for EI benefits. However, the CPP and QPP programs are related to your work and earnings. Consequently, the earnings will reduce your entitlement to EI benefits and be reported to the CEIC.
Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program is a lifesaving program that the Canadian government introduced to provide temporary income to the unemployed while they look for employment or to upskill.
The EI program also offers special benefits to workers who need to take time off work due to specific life events, including illness, pregnancy, caring for a newborn or newly adopted child, a major injury or illness, or a family member becoming seriously ill.
EI and Pension Plans
If you’re an older Canadian who continues to work past the age of 65, you’re entitled to all the benefits you can receive as a working individual.
So, provided that you worked enough hours to meet the EI program requirements at your workplace, you can still qualify for the EI benefits even if you lose your job. In such cases, though, you should apply for the EI benefits as soon as you lose your position so you can start collecting them.
There are several pension programs that senior citizens in Canada can start receiving once they turn 65 years old, including the Old Age Security (OAS) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits.
OAS is an age-based pension program, while the CPP and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) are pension programs through which you contribute a portion of your income during your working years.
You can collect OAS pensions while working past the age of 65. As long as you meet the working hour requirements, you can simultaneously receive EI benefits and pension payments. However, your CPP or QPP payments will be deducted from your EI benefits.
Depending on the specifics surrounding your employment and retirement, you can collect EI when you retire. However, the program is designed to cater only to those who qualify for regular or special benefits.
Even if you qualify, it doesn’t mean you get EI benefits or that you can keep them if you have other retirement earnings like pension income. This is because they will reduce your EI entitlement.