Assets & Exemptions

Overview

Applicants and recipients of income assistance or disability assistance are expected to use their assets for the purposes of personal independence if the value of the assets exceeds the specified exemption levels.

Policy

Effective: May 1, 2005

Assets do not affect eligibility for income assistance or disability assistance when the value of the assets is within the exemption levels in Rate Table: Assets.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources] Where the value of assets exceeds the exemption levels, applicants and recipients are not eligible for income assistance or disability assistance, as they are required to use their assets for personal independence.

Assets are only assets if they can be converted to cash.  All assets have an intrinsic monetary value; therefore, the term convert refers to the “ability” to sell the asset.  The decision as to whether the asset is convertible is the responsibility of ministry staff to make based on information provided by the applicant or recipient.

In all circumstances, the onus rests with the applicant or recipient to provide reasonable documented evidence that the asset could not be sold. 

Applicants and recipients are required to reasonably determine the value of assets and provide verification of value on request.  If they do not provide verification, they may be determined ineligible for assistance. 

Lump sum payments received under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Class Action Settlement Agreement as approved by the Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry in Action No. S50808, are treated as “other financial awards” and are exempt from unearned income up to the allowable asset level for the family unit.  Eligible exempt assets may be purchased and recipients will not be deemed to have inappropriately disposed of property or assets.

Effective: December 1, 2003

Assets include any of the following:
 

  • cash (see cash assets)
  • equity in property
  • equity in investments or other financial instruments
  • equity in trust where the applicant or recipient has control over disbursements

Effective: April 1, 2015

The following assets are exempt for the purposes of determining the assets of an applicant or recipient, for income assistance or disability assistance [see Related Links - Eligibility for Hardship Assistance for recipients of hardship assistance]:
 

  • clothing and necessary household equipment
  • one motor vehicle where the equity does not exceed $10,000 and the vehicle is generally used for day-to-day transportation needs

    Note: There is no limit on the value of a vehicle owned by recipients with the Persons with Disabilities designation.
    [see Policy – Types of Assets – Vehicles]
     
  • a family unit’s place of residence
  • money received or to be received from a mortgage on, or an agreement for sale of, the family unit’s previous place of residence if the money is either:
    • applied to the amount owing on the family unit’s current place of residence
    • used to pay rent for the family unit’s current place of residence
  • business tools
  • seed required by a farmer for the next crop year
  • basic breeding stock held by a farmer at the date of application for income assistance, and female stock held for stock replacement
  • essential equipment and supplies for farming and commercial fishing
  • fishing craft and fishing gear owned and used by a commercial fisher
  • an uncashed life insurance policy with a cash surrender value of $1,500 or less
  • prepaid funeral costs
  • a tax refund under the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • a child tax credit under the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • a child tax benefit under the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • a Universal Child Care Benefit under the Universal Child Care Benefit Act (Canada)
  • a goods and services tax credit under the Income Tax Act (Canada)
  • a harmonized sales tax credit under the Income Tax Act (BC)
  • a sales tax credit under the Income Tax Act (BC)
  • a refundable medical expense supplement [see Related Links – Income Treatment and Exemptions – Policy – Income Tax Refund]
  • individual redress payments granted by the government of Canada to a person of Japanese ancestry
  • individual payments granted by the government of Canada under the Extraordinary Assistance Plan to a person infected by the human immunodeficiency virus
  • individual payments granted by the government of BC to a person infected by the human immunodeficiency virus
  • individual payments granted by the government of Canada under the Extraordinary Assistance Plan to thalidomide victims
  • money from a lump-sum settlement paid by the government of BC to persons awarded compensation by an adjudicative panel in respect of claims of abuse at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf
  • money paid under the 1986 –1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement made June 15, 1999, except money paid under section 4.02 or 6.01 of Schedule A or of Schedule B of that agreement
  • money paid by the Government of Canada under a settlement agreement, to persons who contracted Hepatitis C by receiving blood or blood products in Canada prior to 1986 or after July 1, 1990, except money paid under that agreement as income replacement
  • an income tax refund, or part of an income tax refund, that arises by reason of a payment made by the government of BC to the government of Canada on behalf of a person who incurred a tax liability due to income received under the Forest Worker Transition Program
  • money received from the Common Experience Payment or through the Independent Assessment Process under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
  • money paid to a person in settlement of a claim of abuse at an Indian residential school, except money paid as income replacement in the settlement
  • lump sum payments made to clients as members of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Class Action Settlement are exempt from unearned income up to the allowable asset level for the family unit
  • post-adoption assistance payments provided under the Adoption Regulation (BC)
  • assets exempt under the Self-Employment Program [see Related Links – Self-Employment Program]
  • assets held in asset development accounts [see Policy – Types of Assets – Asset Development Accounts]
  • assets held in trust for persons in special care facility or for persons with the PWD designation [see Related Links – Trusts]
  • payments granted by the government of BC as Interim Early Intensive Intervention Funding (renamed Autism Funding:  Under age 6 Program, effective February 1, 2005)
  • payments granted by the government of BC under section 8 of the Child, Family and Community Services Act, Agreement with child’s kin and others
  • payments granted by the government of BC under the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s At Home Program
  • payments granted by the Government of BC under the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Extended Autism Intervention Program (renamed Autism Funding:  Age 6 - 18 Program, effective February 1, 2005)
  • payments granted by the Government of BC under an agreement for contributions to the support of a child to a person other than a parent of that child
  • funds held in a registered education savings plan (RESP) for which a recipient or a dependent child in a family unit is either a named beneficiary of the RESP, the subscriber to the RESP or both
  • a travel supplement provided under the authority of Community Living British Columbia (CLBC) 
  • individual payments dispersed from the BC Institutional Legacy Trust Fund
  • a working income tax benefit, including a disability supplement under the Income Tax Act (Canada)

    Note: the working income tax benefit and disability supplement can be received either quarterly or annually and is exempt regardless of the frequency of payment
  • a quarterly Climate Action Tax Credit and the one-time Climate Action Dividend under the Income Tax Act (BC)
  • a retroactive compensation awards under, including interest for pain and suffering, made under the Criminal Injury Compensation Act, for claimants who were minor victims of assault and who registered their claim from 1980 to 1992 in which these compensation decisions were deferred. 
  • eviction compensation payments are considered exempt up to the asset level of the family unit [see Related Links – Income Treatment and Exemptions – Policy – Eviction Compensation] 
  • funds held in, or money withdrawn from, a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
  • money from a lump-sum settlement paid by the Government of BC to persons awarded compensation in respect of claims of abuse at Woodlands School
  • money paid or payable from a fund established by the government of British Columbia, the government of Canada and the City of Vancouver in relation to a recommendation in the final report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry
  • payments granted by the government of BC under the Temporary Education Support for Parents program
  • a BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit

Effective: July 20, 2011

Persons who intend to apply for the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation and who are in need of financial support may receive income assistance and retain their assets at the higher limits (including assets over the PWD level in the process of being transferred into a trust or Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)) applicable to recipients of disability assistance, until their PWD designation is determined.

To qualify for income assistance, these applicants are required to meet all eligibility criteria under the Employment and Assistance (EA) Regulation, with the exception that their assets are to be tested at the higher limits allowed to recipients of disability assistance as noted above.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources – Assets.] While waiting for the determination of their PWD designation, they are entitled to retain assets over the income assistance limits, but not exceeding the asset limits applicable to recipients of disability assistance except as noted above.

[see Related Links – Designation Application.]

Effective: December 1, 2015

Clients receiving accommodation or care in a private hospital or a special care facility (other than a residential substance use facility), or who are admitted to a hospital for extended care are subject to the same general asset exemptions as clients with the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation. [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources – Assets.]  

These clients can also access the same trust policy exemptions as PWD clients, including the temporary asset exemption for assets intended for a trust or Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).  [For more information, see Related Links – Trusts]

Effective: May 1, 2005

Disposing of Property or Assets for Inadequate Consideration

Applicants and recipients may not sell an asset for an amount that is less than its intrinsic value.  Doing so may result in a period of ineligibility or rate reduction.

This rule applies to disposal of assets within two years prior to application or while the recipient is in receipt of assistance.

[For information on the period of ineligibility or rate reduction, see Related Links – Sanctions.]

Recipients who receive a CPP Class Action Settlement lump sum payment and purchase eligible exempt assets will not be deemed to have inappropriately disposed of property or assets.

Disposal of Property to Reduce Assets

Applicants and recipients who decrease the value of their assets by giving them to family or others with the intent of reducing their assets to make themselves eligible for assistance may have sanctions applied to their family unit’s assistance.

This rule applies to disposal of assets within two years prior to application or while the recipient is in receipt of assistance.

Recipients who receive a CPP Class Action Settlement lump sum payment and purchase eligible exempt assets will not be deemed to have inappropriately disposed of property or assets.

[For information on the period of ineligibility or rate reduction, see Related Links – Sanctions.]

Failing to Accept or Pursue Assets

Applicants and recipients who fail to accept or pursue assets may be ineligible for assistance or may have a rate reduction applied to the family unit’s assistance.

This rule applies to the failure to pursue or accept assets within two years prior to application for assistance or while the recipient is in receipt of assistance.

[For information on the period of ineligibility or rate reduction, see Related Links – Sanctions.]

Effective: December 1, 2015

Cash Assets

Cash assets are defined in regulation as money on hand, money in bank accounts, money orders, or cheques that can be immediately cashed.

Note: Asset limits as set out in Rate Table: Assets.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources] include cash assets.

Lump sum payments received under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Class Action Settlement Agreement as approved by the Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry in Action No. S50808, are treated as “other financial awards” and are exempt from unearned income up to the allowable asset level for the family unit.  Eligible exempt assets may be purchased and recipients will not be deemed to have inappropriately disposed of property or assets.

Vehicles

When determining eligibility for income assistance, a motor vehicle is exempt for the purposes of determining an applicant’s or recipient’s assets if it is generally used for day-to-day transportation needs and the equity in the motor vehicle does not exceed the amount shown in Rate Table: Assets.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources]

If the equity in the first vehicle is above the amount shown, the applicant or recipient is deemed to be ineligible due to assets in excess of the prescribed limit.  Equity over the prescribed limit may not be added to the total family asset calculation.

The onus rests with applicants or recipients to provide documentation on the equity in their vehicle.  The VMR (Vehicle Market Research) Canada Site may be used to verify a vehicle’s wholesale value and NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Guides to value other types of vehicles (e.g., motorcycles) [see Additional Resources].  

When determining the wholesale value of a vehicle, only the year, make, model, and mileage of the vehicle will be considered. Additions such as “upgrades” will not be considered. Example: 2004 Ford Focus 4 door station wagon (120,000 KM) with power locks and air conditioning would be treated as standard. Additions such as the air conditioning and power locks would not be considered when determining the wholesale value.

If the vehicle is older than the most current VMR Canada or NADA Guides listings and the value of a listed vehicle of similar make is less than the amount shown in Rate Table: Assets [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources], the vehicle is not considered an asset.  Once the wholesale value is determined, money owed on the vehicle must be deducted from the value to determine the equity.

A leased vehicle is not considered an asset.

Vehicle equity limits do not apply to any of the following:
 

  • persons with the Persons with Disabilities designation or their dependants
  • persons awaiting adjudication of a PWD application
  • parents of disabled dependent children
  • relative care providers of disabled children in the Child in Home of Relative Program or foster parents of disabled foster children in the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s foster care program

For care providers of disabled children, the Employment and Assistance Worker (EAW) must be satisfied that the dependent child has a disability and a need for transportation that only the applicant or recipient can provide and for which there are no reasonable alternatives.  The EAW may request written or verbal confirmation from a health care worker confirming that these conditions exist.  Either of the following is also acceptable as proof of a disability:
 

  • proof of the child’s enrolment in the At Home Program
  • the existence of a special needs case for the child on the system

A vehicle that has been modified for an adult or child with a disability is not considered an asset if all of the following apply:
 

  • a member of the family unit has a disability, and the vehicle modifications are necessitated by the disability
  • a member of the family unit is unable to use the vehicle without the modification
  • the modifications cannot reasonably be transferred to another vehicle

Jointly Owned Assets

When it is determined that an asset that is jointly owned cannot be disposed of because the other owner will not co-operate, the Supervisor may deem the asset not available.  This decision is valid for a six-month period and may be extended for a maximum of two years.

Sale of Personal Property

Money received from the sale of personal property is considered to be an asset.

All or part of the money received from the sale of a home may be exempted as a personal asset for a limited time (ordinarily three months) in the following situations:
 

  • the client intends to invest the equity in the purchase of a primary residence
  • money is being used for rent or mortgage payments for the family unit’s current place of residence

Compensation Payments

A compensation payment considered exempt under Section 11 (1) ss. (o) – (v) and (ii) of the EA Regulation and Section 10 (1) ss. (o) – (v) and (ii) of the EAPWD Regulations may continue to be exempt if it is converted to a non-exempt asset.  It is, however, the responsibility of the client to clearly document that the funds used to purchase this non-exempt asset originated directly from the compensation payment.

For example, if a client received a Hepatitis C settlement and invested those funds in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), the funds could still be considered a Hepatitis C settlement provided the client could clearly document their origin.

Business Assets

For participants in the ministry’s Self-Employment Program (SEP), the following assets are exempt when approved in the business plan:
 

  • any assets of the business, including business tools and equipment, that enhance the long-term viability or functionality of the small business
  • a reserve account of up to the amount shown in Rate Table: Assets.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources] established to meet anticipated future business expenses
  • business loans used for permitted operating expenses or approved renovations, or deposited in the cash asset development account

Business assets (including cash asset accounts) are no longer exempt once participation in the self-employment program ends.  [For more information, see Related Links - Self-Employment Program (SEP) for PPMB and PWD.]

Asset Development Account Programs and Asset Development Accounts

An asset development account (ADA) Program is a savings program established and operated by an external agency, and is designed to encourage individuals with low incomes to save money for undertakings that will lead to, or enhance, self-sufficiency.  For the period that an applicant or recipient is participating in an ADA Program, the funds in their asset development account are exempt as an asset.

An ADA Program must be approved by the ministry for the purposes set out in BCEA regulations in order for the savings and contributions in a client’s asset development account to be exempt as assets.  Funds saved may only be used for the purposes of enhancing self-sufficiency.  Examples of accepted purposes include:
 

  1. education leading to self-sufficiency
  2. skills training leading to self-sufficiency
  3. starting a self-employment enterprise leading directly to self-sufficiency, or for PWD and PPMB clients, to increased self-reliance and independence.

If an applicant or recipient does not use all or part of the money contributed to an asset development account for the purposes specified under the program, the asset exemption ceases to apply to that portion of the money not used for these purposes.

Ministry Approval of an Asset Development Account Program

Approval of an asset development account (ADA) Program for the purposes set out in BCEA Regulations may be granted by an Executive Director on behalf of the Minister.  In order for the ministry to assess whether an ADA Program meets the purposes set out in BCEA Regulations, ADA Program Operators must provide a description of the ADA Program including the following information:
 

  • how individual client asset development accounts will be managed
  • contribution amounts or matching ratios
  • duration of client participation
  • purpose(s) of accounts
  • how clients may withdraw funds from their ADA

Letter of Understanding

Once an ADA Program has been determined to be acceptable to the ministry, an Executive Director may conditionally approve an ADA Program subject to signing a joint Letter of Understanding with the ADA Program Operator.  A template for a letter of conditional approval, available from a Community Relations and Service Quality Manager (CRSQ), may be used for this purpose. 
 

  • The Letter of Understanding will outline the commitment of the ADA Program Operator as outlined in the program information.  A template for the Letter of Understanding is available from a CRSQ.
  • The Letter of Understanding must indicate that the ADA Program Operator recognizes any clients participating in an ADA Program approved by the ministry are subject to BCEA legislation and regulations. 
  • The signed Letter of Understanding shall be kept on the client’s case, and the CRSQ shall ensure that staff are advised of all ministry-approved ADA Programs.   

Farm Assets

When farmland, excluding a house, is rented before being sold, any revenue obtained by an applicant or recipient is considered unearned income.  When a farm is sold, the equity after the sale is considered an asset.

Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP)

Assets held in a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) are exempt.  Payments from an RDSP are exempt as both income and assets.  RDSP payments can be used for any purpose and do not impact eligibility for hardship assistance, income assistance or disability assistance. 

A payment from an RDSP remains exempt even if it is converted to a non-exempt asset.  It is, however, the responsibility of the client to clearly document that the funds originated directly from an RDSP.

For example, a client withdraws money from an RDSP and keeps the funds as cash while the client shops for a non-exempt vehicle.  Both the cash and the non-exempt vehicle could still be considered exempt provided the client clearly documents the origin of the funds used to make the purchase.

Any ministry client can set up an RDSP if they meet the federal government’s criteria.  To meet the federal government’s criteria, clients must be under 60 years of age and must apply and be found eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.  Not all PWD clients will qualify for the Disability Tax Credit as provincial and federal disability criteria differ. 

Up to $200,000 can be contributed to an RDSP.  The federal government provides bonds and matching grants for contributions to RDSPs.  Clients may also be eligible for a $150 gift to their RDSP from the Vancouver Foundation’s Endowment 150 program. 

Two types of payments are permitted from RDSPs: Lifetime Disability Assistance Payments and Disability Assistance Payments.  Lifetime Disability Assistance Payments are annual lifetime payments and Disability Assistance Payments are lump-sum payments.  The type of payments and the payment amounts depend on how much was contributed to an RDSP and when.

Eligible clients may choose to transfer newly received assets into an RDSP (or trust), to avoid being over the asset limit in subsequent months [see Procedures]. 

Reporting Contributions

Clients do not need to report RDSP balances or contributions from outside their family unit, but are required to report personal contributions, contributions from their family unit, and payments.   [see Procedures]

[For more information on RDSPs and Endowment 150, see Additional Resources.]

Registered Retirement Savings Plans

Money held in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) is considered an asset for the purpose of determining eligibility for assistance.  RRSPs may include any of the following:
 

  • guaranteed income certificates (GICs)
  • stocks
  • bonds
  • treasury bills
  • mutual funds

Redeemable RRSPs – Unless an RRSP is locked-in pursuant to BC’s Pension Benefits Standards Act or similar federal or provincial legislation, it is redeemable.  Money can be withdrawn from a redeemable RRSP before retirement but may be subject to a withholding tax and income tax.  Redeemable RRSPs are considered assets for eligibility purposes and may impact eligibility. 

Non-Redeemable (locked-in) RRSPs and Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) Only RRSPs and RRIFs that are locked-in pursuant to the Pension Benefits Standards Act are considered unavailable assets and do not impact eligibility.

The Pension Benefits Standards Act provides regulatory authority for locked-in pension plans and provides authority for transfers from those pension plans to locked-in RRSPs and RRIFs.  Locked-in pension plans are employer-sponsored Registered Pension Plans (RPPs).  When employment ceases, the locked-in funds must be used to provide a retirement income and may not be paid out as a cash lump sum (subject to limited exceptions permitted by the governing legislation, such as financial hardship).  RPPs and locked-in RRSPs and RRIFs containing pension funds transferred from RPPs are not considered assets for eligibility purposes and clients are not required to unlock them. 

Clients should provide the ministry confirmation from the financial institution where their RRSP or RRIF is held that their RRSP or RRIF is locked-in pursuant to the Pension Benefits Standards Act.  

Once an RRSP or RRIF is no longer locked-in pursuant to the Pension Benefits Standards Act, it is considered an asset and may impact eligibility for assistance.

Loans and Credit

If an applicant or recipient chooses to negotiate a cash loan, the loan amount is not included in the calculation of entitlement, as it is not defined as “earned” or “unearned” income.  The amount, when received, is an “asset” in the form of cash and the recipient becomes ineligible if the asset exceeds the asset level for the family.  This also applies to funds accessed from a line of credit, credit card or a reverse mortgage.  However, to be considered a loan, repayment terms must exist prior to acceptance.

Note: For information on policy regarding gifts, see related links – Income Treatment and Exemptions.

Trusts

The following client types may transfer assets into a discretionary trust or a non-discretionary trust, under certain conditions, without affecting eligibility for assistance:
 

  • Clients who have the PWD designation.
  • A client who resides in a private hospital or a special care facility (other than a drug or alcohol treatment centre)
  • Clients or applicants awaiting a PWD adjudication decision or completing a PWD Application form [for more information, see Related Links – Designation Application]

 [For information on policy regarding trusts, see Related Links – Trusts] 

Effective: October 1, 2012

Tax refunds are exempt as assets for the purposes of determining the assets of an applicant or recipient of income assistance or disability assistance.  For example, if an applicant has $3,000 in a bank account from an income tax refund, it would be considered exempt.

Tax refunds are fully exempt regardless of how many years of tax refunds are received.

It is the responsibility of the client to clearly document that the funds originated directly from a tax refund. 

Clients can use tax refunds to purchase other exempt assets and they will not be deemed to have inappropriately disposed of property or assets.  If a client purchases a non-exempt asset, it would be considered as part of their general asset limit.

Hardship cases are not eligible for income tax refund exemptions.

Procedures

Effective: July 20, 2011

In circumstances where a client has been found eligible or is receiving income assistance under the Employment and Assistance (EA) Act and intends to apply for the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation, ministry staff may exempt the client’s assets up to the limits shown in Rate Table: Assets.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources] by following these steps:
 

  1. Review all documentation required to verify the assets. 
  2. Ask the client to confirm their intent to apply for the PWD designation.
  3. For new applicants, ensure that the asset amount has been added in the system.  For recipients of income assistance, conduct an eligibility review to update the assets.  Record and itemize the amounts and types of assets.  [For information on Eligibility Reviews, see Verification and Eligibility – Eligibility Review]
  4. Review the Rate Table – Assets and inform the client whether he or she meets, or will likely meet within 6 months, the criteria for asset limits exemption while in the process of applying for the PWD designation and provide reasons.  [see Rate Tables or Additional Resources – Assets and Additional Resources – Provision of PWD Application Form]
  5. Once financial eligibility (or the likelihood within 6 months) has been determined and the client has been provided with the PWD Designation Application (HR2883), update the PWD information for the contact. [see Related Links – Designation Application – Procedures]
  6. Inform the client of the expectation to submit their completed PWD Designation Application to Health Assistance Branch within approximately three months and the consequences if they are unable to return the completed Application.  Ministry staff are to provide the “Assets in Excess Pending PWD Designation Application” template letter (HR3259) to the client when assessing the asset limits exemption.  [see Forms and Letters] If a client does not return the completed PWD Designation Application within three months, he or she may be required to deplete their assets to the limits applicable to income assistance recipients. 
  7. Make notes for the ministry decision regarding the asset limits exemption.
  8.  If the ministry has not received the PWD Designation Application after two months, ministry staff are to send the “Assets in Excess Pending PWD Designation Application (60 days)” template letter (HR3260) to request that the completed PWD Designation Application be submitted to the ministry by the specified date.  [see Forms and Letters]

If the client is unable to submit the completed PWD Designation Application within the period of three months due to a delay not caused by the client, a Supervisor should review the circumstances with the client and, if applicable, record an extension approval and the reasons. 

To ensure PWD Designation Applications are returned in a timely manner, a “Monitoring Report – Assets – Reg Level” will be generated each month on Report to Web (R2W). 

If the client is found ineligible for the PWD designation, he or she will be identified on the “Monitoring Report – Persons with Assets.”  To review a client who has been denied the PWD designation and may now be considered assets in excess, ministry staff are to follow these steps:
 

  1. Review to determine if the client meets the criteria for ongoing eligibility. 
  2. If the client is found to be assets in excess, contact the client by telephone and provide the “PWD Asset Exemption File Closure” template letter (HR3261) to inform them of their situation and that he or she will not receive assistance at the end of the month.  Record the decision and reasons.  Note: If the family unit includes dependent children or all the adults are over 65 or all the adults have persons with persistent multiple barriers status, ministry staff may assess the family unit for Hardship assistance.  [For further information, see Related Links – Assets in Excess.]
  3. Provide the client with information on the reconsideration process.  [see Related Links – Reconsideration].  Note: If the client requests a reconsideration, they will continue to be eligible for income assistance and their assets will be tested at the higher asset limits under the EAPWD Regulation until the reconsideration and appeal process has concluded.
  4. Assess whether to turn cheque production off and follow regional practice for case closure procedure.

Note: If a client is found ineligible for the PWD designation, the income assistance they received during the period when they were exempt from the asset limits pending the outcome of their PWD Designation Application is not considered repayable.  [see Related Links – Designation Application – Policy – Receiving Income Assistance while Waiting for PWD Designation.]

 

Effective: July 20, 2011  

Due to the complexity of the legal wording of trusts, the Legislation and Litigation Branch (LLB) must be consulted by ministry staff and are provided with a copy of the trust documentation in all cases. LLB will review the documentation to confirm the type of trust the documentation represents.

[For information on procedures regarding trusts, see Related Links – Trusts.]

Effective: May 1, 2005

Lump sum payments received under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Class Action Settlement Agreement as approved by the Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry in Action No. S50808, are treated as “other financial awards” and are exempt from unearned income up to the allowable asset level for the family unit.  Eligible exempt assets may be purchased and recipients will not be deemed to have inappropriately disposed of property or assets.

Any amounts over the asset level are to be treated as unearned income and deducted from the income assistance for the month. 

Clients who have deductions in their income assistance due to an excess cash asset may apply through Doak Shirreff, lawyers for the Class, for a reimbursement of up to $300.  All reimbursements must be made by October 29, 2005.

Eligibility for the following months will be assessed based on current income and asset criteria.

Clients who are ineligible for income assistance for one or more months due to the CPP lump sum payment may retain their eligibility for Medical Services Only (MSO). [See Related Links – Medical Services Only.]

If clients purchase eligible exempt assets, they will be deemed to have appropriately disposed of property or assets.

Effective: December 1, 2015

If an eligible client receives earned income or unearned income, it is considered income in the month received.  Certain income exemptions apply.  Received income becomes an asset in subsequent months unless it is spent [see Related Links – Income Treatment and Exemptions].

Clients must be informed of the ministry’s trust and RDSP provisions [see Related Links – Trusts – Procedures].  While ministry workers can advise clients that the option to open an RDSP exists, no advice may be provided to the client regarding whether an RDSP or trust is appropriate or better for a particular client.  Clients will be advised to seek independent advice.

If an eligible client does not have an RDSP and the client wishes to transfer an asset to an RDSP, the ministry allows the client up to three months to do so (the first month being the month in which the asset is received).  During the three month period described above, the ministry will exempt assets intended to be transferred into the client’s RDSP account.  If after three months, the client has not set up an RDSP, the client’s circumstances will be reassessed. If the client provides documentation from a financial institution to prove they are making reasonable efforts to establish an RDSP, and the delay is beyond their control, the exemption for the asset may be extended on a month-by-month basis.  The client must provide documentation each month for which an extension is requested.  The exemption ceases to apply if the ministry becomes aware of information that indicates that a client does not intend to contribute the asset or a portion of the asset to an RDSP.

Expenditures from an asset intended for an RDSP will be exempt only so long as they are spent on “disability-related costs” [see Related Links – Trusts – Policy – Trust Payments].  However, if the client does not receive assistance for a month because of excess income in the month received, expenditures from the asset intended for an RDSP are not restricted during this month (short of transactions making  s. 13 of the EAPWD Act or s. 14 of the EA Act applicable). 

Examples of when an asset is not considered income in the month received:
 

  • Assets rolled into an RDSP directly from a deceased parent’s Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or Registered Retirement Income Fund. 
  • An exempt asset transferred into an RDSP, for example a transfer from a trust; the asset remains exempt and does not impact eligibility for assistance. 
  • An asset passes directly into an RDSP, and the client never receives the asset. 
    • Example:  if a relative chooses to make regular deposits directly into an RDSP for the client, those deposits will not be considered income. 

Examples of when an asset is considered income in the month received:

  • Earned or unearned income (such as CPP disability payments or earned income).  This income cannot be redirected into a RDSP without first being counted as income in the month received. 
  • A client has an entitlement to an asset, but directs the person who has to transfer the asset to the client to instead transfer the asset into an RDSP.  

Effective: December 1, 2015
 

  1. When a client reports an RDSP or RDSP activity, supporting documentation must be provided.
  2. Once supporting documentation is verified, set the RDSP indicator on the Assets Type tab.  
  3. When a payment has been received and is now an exempt asset, create an End Date (you can use the current date).  This will create the exemption for the asset.  Note the asset in asset comments. 

Effective: October 1, 2012
 

  1. When a client reports a tax refund, it is treated as unearned, one-time income in the month it is received. 
  2. Worker to set up a one-time unearned income record product code (24).
  3. Worker to set up an exempt cash asset record, for the tax refund code, under the asset tab.
  4. In month two, the worker end dates the previous cash asset record and enters a new record if there is any cash asset remaining under the product Income Tax Refund.

Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective: May 20, 2010

Supervisor is responsible for:

  • deeming that a jointly owned asset is not available for a period of up to two years
  • approving extensions for exempting asset limits for clients that require more time to submit the completed PWD Designation Application Form (beyond the three months)
  • assessing farm assets

A summarized Authority Level matrix is available in Additional Resources. 

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