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The Quebec government proposes to allow seniors living with disability to receive the full QPP retirement benefit at age 65, even if they choose to receive a reduced retirement benefit at age 60. 

The proposal would address a scenario in which a person’s income drops when they become ineligible for the province’s disability pension, which occurs at age 65. Currently, people living with disability who began receiving a retirement pension at 60 are left with only the reduced pension for the rest of their lives.

“The government is aware of how vulnerable these individuals [living with disability] are and of the repercussions they face due to the rising cost of living,” the Quebec government said in the budget document. “Since the [Quebec Pension Plan’s] financial situation allows it, a significant step can be taken to further support them.”

The Quebec government announced the proposed change — which would take effect Jan. 1, 2025 — in the 2024 provincial budget tabled Tuesday.

Quebecers can apply for a disability pension under the QPP program if they can’t work or their employment earnings decrease considerably for health reasons. They must be younger than 65 and have made sufficient contributions to the QPP. The disability pension amount for a person between ages 60 and 65 is $6,999 for 2024.

After a previously announced change that became effective Jan. 1, 2024, a person eligible for the disability pension can apply for a retirement pension at age 60. However, that person will receive a reduced retirement pension based on the number of months they choose to receive it before age 65.

For 2024, under current rules, an eligible 60 year old with a disability would receive $6,999 in disability pension and a maximum retirement benefit of $12,445, for a total income of $19,445. At age 65, the person would lose access to the disability benefit and receive the retirement benefit of $12,445.

Starting next year, under the proposed rules, the eligible 60 year old will continue to receive a maximum $19,445 in combined disability and retirement pension. However, when they lose access to the disability benefit at age 65, they will receive $16,375, the retirement pension they would have received had they not chosen to start taking the retirement benefit at 60.

The government said that due to this change, 77,000 people aged 65 and over would see their pension increase starting next year. Further, another 23,000 people currently between ages 60 and 64 would benefit in the coming years.

The change is projected to cost $135 million a year, the government said, but would not require an increase in contribution amounts as the QPP has “sufficient financial leeway” to fund the proposal.

“However, considering the impact on the plan’s financial leeway, the government does not intend to enhance the QPP further between now and the next public consultation in 2029,” it said.