Awaiting EI Benefits

Overview

Hardship assistance is provided to meet the essential needs of applicants for income assistance who meet all other conditions of eligibility except they are waiting for Employment Insurance (EI) provided by Service Canada.  This category of hardship assistance is called Awaiting EI Benefits. EI Maternity and Parental Benefits and EI benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children are exempt unearned income, and are fully exempt when assessing eligibility for income assistance. Therefore, eligible people awaiting these specific EI benefits will be provided with income assistance and not hardship assistance.

Hardship assistance is provided on a temporary basis, for only one month at a time.  Eligibility for hardship assistance must be re-established each month.

Awaiting EI Benefits is available under the Employment and Assistance Regulation.  Applicants eligible under the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation would receive disability assistance, rather than hardship assistance, while awaiting EI benefits.  

Policy

Effective Date:  October 1, 2016

Hardship assistance is provided on a temporary basis, for only one month at a time.  If further hardship assistance is required, eligibility must be re-established each month.

Hardship assistance issued under Awaiting EI Benefits is available to applicants for income assistance and their dependants where at least one adult in the family unit is an applicant for Employment Insurance (EI) provided by Service Canada.  Dependent children awaiting EI do not affect the family unit’s eligibility for assistance. 

Hardship under this category is not available to clients during the two-week waiting period when EI is not payable.  [see Policy – Two-Week EI Waiting Period]

To qualify for this hardship, applicants must apply for EI benefits with Service Canada and sign an EI Assignment of Benefit (AOB) form (HR2528).  [see Policy – Assignment of EI Benefits]

EI Maternity and Parental Benefits and EI benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children are exempt unearned income, and are fully exempt when assessing eligibility for income assistance. People awaiting these benefits should not complete an AOB form (HR2528).

In cases where waiting for confirmation that EI benefits have been applied for would result in undue hardship, the Supervisor may approve assistance to meet the short-term need. 

[For an overview of eligibility for hardship or the hierarchy of hardship categories, see Related Links – Eligibility for Hardship Assistance.]

Applicants may be eligible for hardship under this category until they receive or are found ineligible for EI benefits. 

Once the hardship reason no longer exists, cases must be re-assessed to determine if the family unit meets the eligibility criteria for income assistance. 

Effective:  July 29, 2009

Applicants must serve a two-week unpaid waiting period before Employment Insurance (EI) begins to be paid.  The two-week EI waiting period begins on the date of EI application and lasts until the second Saturday following the EI application date.  [For more information, see Procedures – Issuing Hardship Assistance.]

Hardship under this category is not payable during the two-week EI waiting period, but another hardship category – Awaiting Other Income – may apply during this time.  [see Related Links – Awaiting Other Income]

Effective:  October 1, 2016

Applicants for income assistance must sign an Employment Insurance (EI) Assignment of Benefit (AOB) form (HR2528) each time they receive hardship under this category.   

By signing the EI AOB, applicants assign their EI benefits to the ministry authorizing Service Canada to reimburse the ministry directly through weekly deductions from their EI payments and eliminate dual payments.

The EI AOB determines:
 

  • the period in which hardship assistance is recovered from EI benefits because the client received both – EI and hardship – for the same period of time (AOB period),
  • the amount of hardship assistance issued weekly, and
  • the minimum weekly living allowance (MWLA). 

MWLA applies every week of the assignment period.  This ensures that Service Canada deducts only the portion of clients’ EI weekly payments that exceeds the MWLA to reimburse the ministry for the hardship issued to clients eligible for EI benefits. 

Clients who are awaiting EI Maternity and Parental Benefits and EI benefits for Parents of Critically Ill Children should not complete an AOB form (HR2528). 

Effective:  July 29, 2009

Applicants or recipients with the Persons with Disabilities designation, who are awaiting Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, should be issued disability assistance rather than hardship.

A manual EI Assignment of Benefit (AOB) form (HR2528) is to be completed until the recipient receives EI benefits or is found to be ineligible for EI.  A repayment agreement is not to be taken for the two-week EI waiting period.  Recipients of disability assistance are responsible to declare EI payments received on a Monthly Report (HR0081).  

Effective:  December 14, 2011

In cases where a client’s spouse is awaiting Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, an EI Assignment of Benefit (AOB) form (HR2528), must be signed by the spouse.  If more than one family member is waiting for EI, the EI AOB form should only be completed by the applicant who is most likely to receive EI benefits.

In cases where the spouse is the EI applicant, benefits must always be issued via a supplier imprest cheque to the spouse so that the cheque will have the same name as the AOB. To avoid the additional steps associated with issuing a supplier cheque, the worker should set up the initial case with the EI applicant as the primary applicant, if possible.

Procedures

Effective:  July 29, 2009

Before issuing the initial and any subsequent hardship assistance under this category, staff must verify that the applicant has completed an Employment Insurance (EI) application with Service Canada.  Staff verify the status of the applicant’s EI application by using WebAOBLink to determine if an EI claim has been filed, approved, denied or in pay. 

Alternatively, to assess an initial application for hardship assistance, staff may confirm the applicant’s EI status by verifying Service Canada’s Confirmation and Information form, provided by the applicant. 

For applicants who have not applied for EI benefits, staff may assess their likelihood to qualify for EI by reviewing the applicants’ Record of Employment and accessing Service Canada’s website to confirm the required number of insurable hours within a specific EI economic region.  If applicants are likely to be eligible for EI benefits, refer them to Service Canada.  [See Systems Instructions – WebAOBLink ].  

Effective:  August 5, 2014

[For information on how to determine hardship assistance rates see Related Links – Eligibility for Hardship Assistance – Policy – Amount of Hardship Assistance.]

Determine the Employment Insurance (EI) application date.  If the applicant requires assistance during the two-week waiting period when EI coverage is not payable, hardship assistance is issued under Awaiting Other Income. [see Related Links – Awaiting Other Income]

Advise applicants who qualify for hardship that they are required to sign a Promise to Pay (HR2664).

To issue hardship under this category to an applicant after the two-week EI waiting period, ministry staff are to complete the following steps:
 

  1. Update the client’s case to hardship.  In cases where the spouse is the EI applicant, benefits must always be issued via a supplier imprest cheque to the spouse so that the cheque will have the same name as the AOB. To avoid this problem, the worker should always try to set up the initial case with the EI applicant as the primary applicant.
  2. If the spouse is the person awaiting EI benefits, ensure the EI assignment has them as the contact. Print the AOB, sign and date.
  3. Inform the applicant of his or her responsibility to complete and submit the Monthly Report form (HR0081) as eligibility for hardship assistance must be re-established each month.
  4. Ensure all sections of the EI AOB are completed, specifically that it is signed and dated by ministry staff and that the “Date of Payment” section is completed
  5. Provide one signed copy of the EI AOB to the person awaiting EI benefits.  A second copy of the EI AOB must be scanned and profiled and sent to Administrative staff, who then forward it to Financial and Administrative Services Branch (FASB). 

    Please note: Administrative staff are required to submit EI AOBs with the Assignment of Benefit Transmittal (HR3569) form to FASB on a weekly basis, preferably on Mondays.  FASB forwards the received EI AOB to Service Canada every second day.
     
  6. If the person awaiting EI benefits is the primary applicant, issue hardship assistance using applicable hardship categories.
  7. If the spouse is the person awaiting EI benefits, issue hardship assistance in the spouse’s name (issued as a service provider).  

    Please note: The ministry cannot make direct payments to landlords for the rent portion when the person is awaiting EI benefits.

    Please note: The amount on the AOB must match the amount issued to the person. Also, the AOB name must match the name of the person awaiting EI benefits, as well as the payee name on hardship assistance cheques. Service Canada will only reimburse the ministry if the following three match:
  • name on the assistance cheque
  • name on AOB, and
  • name of person receiving EI.

Please note: Eligible applicants with the PWD designation awaiting EI benefits receive disability assistance, not hardship assistance, after completing and signing the manual EI AOB form (HR2528).  [see Forms and Letters]
 

  1. Each EI AOB can be viewed using the EI Assignment of Benefits.

Please note: once a completed EI AOB has been received by Service Canada, the ministry cannot adjust amounts already determined on the EI AOB.  If applicants claim that Service Canada deducted from their EI weekly payments more than the weekly amount of the hardship assistance (as stated on the EI AOB) to reimburse the ministry, staff can request a review of applicants’ assignments by contacting FASB by e-mail. [see Contacts].

Cancelling and Deleting EI Assignments

If the imprest or computer cheque is printed and then cancelled, ministry staff are to complete the following steps:
 

  1. Update the EI Assignment by entering Code “5” (PCANCL) in the Assignment Status Code field and then print the cancelled EI AOB. 
  2. Make detailed notes explaining why the assignment is being cancelled.
  3. Scan and profile the EI AOB and send it to FASB immediately to avoid accidental deductions from the applicant’s EI benefits.  Place the cancelled EI AOB on the top of the original AOB (signed or unsigned) and staple them together before forwarding to FASB.
  4. Ministry staff are to complete a weekly review of the Report to Web – Employment Insurance Cancelled Assignments to ensure that all cancelled AOB’s have been submitted to FASB.

Terms in the EI AOB Form

The AOB period

  • The period during which the hardship assistance issued under this category is recovered from EI benefits when the client received both - hardship and EI - for the same period of time (dual or duplicate payments). 

The MWLA

  • The maximum monthly amount of income or disability assistance for the specific family unit divided by 4.33 and rounded down to the nearest dollar.

    Please note: MWLA applies each week of the AOB period.

The Weekly Amount

  • The amount of issued hardship assistance divided by the number of Sundays within the AOB period and rounded down to the nearest dollar. 

The Start Week Date

  • The Sunday of the first week of the AOB period for which hardship assistance was issued.

The Last Week Date

  • The Sunday of the last week of the AOB period for which hardship assistance was issued.

The Last Week Amount

  • The amount of hardship assistance issued divided by the number of Sundays within the AOB period.  The last week amount includes amounts ‘rounded off’ in the earlier weeks. 

Example

A single person applied for EI on Monday, September 8, which means the two-week waiting period starts on Monday, September 8, and ends on Saturday, September 20 (the second Saturday after EI application).

On Monday, September 15, the client signed the application and was determined to be eligible for hardship assistance while the EI claim was being processed.  For September, the client would be eligible for:
 

  • Hardship under Awaiting Other Income:
    • pro-rated support for five days (remainder of two-week waiting period, from September 15 to 20)
    • shelter for September if required
  • Hardship under Awaiting EI Benefits:
    • pro-rated support from September 20 until the end of the calendar month (10 days in this example)

Hardship assistance is intended to meet basic needs of the applicant’s family unit with no entitlement to a specific amount of hardship assistance.  In order to minimize deductions from EI benefits, only the minimum amount of hardship assistance should be issued. 

Effective:  July 29, 2009

Clients continue to be eligible for hardship until they start to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.  Each subsequent issuance of hardship will require reassessment of clients’ eligibility and completion of a separate EI AOB. 

Effective:  July 29, 2009

If Service Canada deems a person ineligible for Employment Insurance (EI), then the case can be converted to an income assistance application if all other eligibility criteria are met.  If a Promise to Pay (HR2664) was completed to cover the first two weeks of the EI waiting period, then a corresponding Credit Memo Service Request must be completed for the reversal of the debt.  [see Related Links – Recoveries]

Note: This procedure is not intended for clients who are disentitled or disqualified by Service Canada.

Effective:  July 29, 2009

Once clients start receiving Employment Insurance (EI), either of the following may apply:
 

  • if their EI income is less than their income assistance rate, they may be considered for income assistance, and the EI will be deducted as unearned income [For information on EI income, see Related Links – Income Treatment and Exemptions]
  • if their EI income is greater than the income assistance rate for their family unit, they are no longer eligible for assistance.

Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective:  July 29, 2009

Hardship – Awaiting EI Benefits
Supervisor Approving assistance to meet the short-term need pending verification of eligibility for Employment Insurance.