Objective: This study uses a population health intervention modeling approach to project the impact of recent legislated increases in age eligibility for Canadian federally-funded pension benefits on low income seniors' health, using food insecurity as a health indicator.
Method: Food insecurity prevalence and income source were assessed for unattached low income (<$20,000 CAD) persons aged 60-64 years (population weighted n=151,350) versus seniors aged 65-69 years (population weighted n=151,485) using public use data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 4.1 (2007-2008).
Results: Seniors' benefits through federal public pension plans constituted the main source of income for the majority (79.4%) of low income seniors aged 65-69 years, in contrast to low income seniors aged 60-64 years who reported their main income from employment, employment insurance, Workers' Compensation, or welfare. The increase in income provided by federal pension benefits for low income Canadians 65 and over coincided with a pronounced (50%) decrease in food insecurity prevalence (11.6% for seniors ≥65 years versus 22.8% for seniors <65 years).
Conclusion: Raising the age of eligibility for public pension seniors' benefits in Canada from 65 to 67 years will negatively impact low income seniors' health, relegating those who are food insecure to continued hardship.
Keywords: Canada; Food insecurity; Health; Income; Pensions; Population; Seniors.