Pursuing Income

Overview

Applicants and recipients of income assistance, disability assistance and hardship assistance who may be eligible for other income or other means of support are required to pursue and accept the other income or means of support.  Those who fail to accept or refuse to pursue other income, or other means of support, may be ineligible for assistance or eligible at a reduced rate.

Policy

Effective: September 28, 2010

Applicants and recipients (including adult dependants without residency status) are required to seek, accept, and use all other income to support themselves before receiving assistance.  Applicants and recipients who may be eligible for income from other sources are required to pursue it. 

Recipients who apply for other income may continue to receive assistance if they complete an assignment or repayment agreement where appropriate.

Applicants who are awaiting another source of income may be eligible for hardship assistance under Awaiting Other Income [see Related Links – Awaiting Other Income]. Applicants who were previously in receipt of disability assistance as a person with disabilities and who are currently awaiting other income are eligible for disability assistance if they complete the appropriate repayment agreement, consent to deduct, et cetera.

Effective: September 28, 2010

Failure to accept or pursue income (or other means of support) that would enable a person to become completely or partly independent of assistance may result in ineligibility or a rate reduction. 

 [For more information, see Related Links – Sanctions.]

[For information on how income affects eligibility, see Related Links – Income Treatment and Exemptions.]

Effective: July 1, 2017

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a federal government benefit, administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), designed to assist low- and modest-income families with the cost of raising their children. Families must file their income tax return each year in order to receive the CCB.

[For more information, see Related Links – Child Benefits Top-up Supplement.]

Effective: January 1, 2020

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a contributory, earnings-related pension program.  CPP is included in the international social security agreements that Canada has concluded with a number of countries.  These agreements may help a person qualify for social security benefits from another country in which they have lived or worked.

CPP is considered to be “other income” and therefore applicants or recipients are required to pursue CPP benefits.  These benefits include CPP retirement benefits, disability benefits, and survivor benefits.  Applicants and recipients who have not applied for CPP benefits are to be reviewed for potential CPP eligibility. 

Applicants or recipients under the age of 65 are not required to apply for CPP early retirement benefits [see below CPP Early Retirement Benefits].

CPP income is considered unearned income [see Related Links- Income Treatment and Exemptions]. Overpayments due to undeclared CPP benefits will be treated as any other undeclared unearned income. 

Applying for CPP Benefits

The Canada Pension Plan pays monthly retirement benefits to persons who have worked and contributed to the CPP. Generally, all workers in Canada over the age of 18 pay into the CPP (or the Québec Pension Plan (QPP)) and qualify for benefits

While clients should be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine who may be eligible for CPP, the following are some general guidelines:
 

  • early retirement benefits: retirement benefits for clients who are 60 to 64 years of age (clients are not required to pursue these benefits)
  • retirement benefits: retirement benefits for clients who are 65 years of age or over
  • survivor benefits:  for clients who are the surviving legal or common-law spouse of a CPP contributor
  • disability benefits: for clients with the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation or persons with persistent multiple barriers (PPMB)

CPP Early Retirement Benefits

A CPP early retirement benefit is a contribution-related benefit, payable monthly upon application, to CPP contributors who are ages 60 to 64. Applicants and recipients are not required to apply for CPP early retirement benefits. If received, CPP early retirement benefits are not exempt [see Related Links- Income Treatment & Exemptions]. Applicants and recipients have the option of cancelling the CPP early retirement benefit up to six months after it starts by requesting cancellation in writing and paying back the benefits they have received to the federal government [see Contacts- Canada Pension Plan].

CPP Retirement Benefits

A CPP retirement benefit is a contribution-related benefit, payable monthly upon application, to CPP contributors who are at least 65 years of age. All applicants and recipients aged 64 and older will be required to apply for CPP retirement benefits to be received at age 65.

CPP Survivor Benefits

A survivor benefit is payable to the estate, the surviving spouse or common-law partner, and the children of a deceased CPP contributor until the age of 25 if they are attending school.  The three types of survivor benefits are: 
 

  • surviving spouse benefit is a monthly payment to the surviving spouse or common-law partner of a deceased CPP contributor
  • children’s benefit is a monthly benefit for children of a deceased CPP contributor.   This payment is exempt as income and is also known as a surviving child's benefit for the child of a deceased contributor, or CPP Orphan’s benefit
  • death benefit is a one-time payment to, or on behalf of, the estate of the deceased CPP contributor

Applicants and recipients who fail or refuse to apply for CPP survivor benefits to which they are potentially eligible may be determined eligible for BCEA in limited circumstances, including the following:
 

  • where there is a potential for a claim by both a common-law and legal spouse
  • the person is awaiting clarification concerning the deceased spouse’s employment history outside Canada and an international agreement exists with the other country

CPP Disability Benefits

Disability benefits are payable to CPP contributors with disabilities and to their dependent children.    

Applicants and recipients who fail or refuse to apply for CPP disability benefits to which they are potentially eligible may be determined eligible for BCEA in limited circumstances, including the following:
 

  • due to illness or incapacitation, the person cannot apply even with ministry assistance (these cases are to be reviewed monthly)
  • the person is awaiting clarification of his or her employment history outside of Canada and an international agreement exists

For more information on CPP, see the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Internet site [see Contacts – Canada Pension Plan].

Effective: September 1, 2015

Although child support is considered exempt income under the Employment and Assistance Act and Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, ministry staff should provide clients information on the available resources to pursue this financial resource.

Resources available to clients to pursue child support include a referral by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction for family maintenance services, as well as child support officers and family justice counsellors. 

[See Related Links – Family Maintenance Services – Additional Resources and Income Treatment and Exemptions – Policy]

Effective: December 1, 2003

Regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits may be paid to those who lose a job through no fault of their own and have worked in insurable employment for a certain number of weeks in the qualifying period.  The number of insurable weeks of employment varies depending on the unemployment rate in the region.

Special benefits are paid if a person cannot work because he or she is sick, injured, in quarantine, or pregnant, has recently given birth, is caring for a newborn baby, or is adopting a child.  Special eligibility requirements apply to people who fish for a living and to teachers.

For more information on Employment Insurance, see the ESDC Internet site.  [see Contacts – Employment Insurance]

Effective: December 1, 2003

Small-scale farmers, for health reasons or as a result of crop failure, may apply for assistance.  They must first make use of federal and provincial agricultural financial aid programs before applying for assistance because of economic reasons.  Individuals may obtain information by contacting the district agriculturist from the Ministry of Agriculture.

When farmland, excluding the 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.

Effective: December 1, 2003

Under the Motor Fuel Tax Act, drivers of automobiles who are disabled or partially disabled may qualify for a refund of tax paid on fuel purchased for their motor vehicles from the Consumer Taxation Branch.

For more information on the Fuel Tax Refund Program, see the Ministry of Finance Internet site.  [see Contacts – Fuel Tax Refund Program]

Effective: December 1, 2003

The Home Owner Grant Program offers a tax reduction for homeowners.  An additional grant may be available for seniors, persons with disabilities, or others who meet the eligibility criteria under the home owner grant qualifications.

For more information on the Home Owner Grant Program, see the Ministry of Finance Internet site.  [see Contacts – Home Owner Grants]

Effective: October 29, 2012

Allowance

The spouse of an Old Age Security (OAS) pensioner may be eligible for an Allowance if the spouse is aged 60 to 64 and meets residency and income test requirements.  A common-law spouse may also qualify.

Allowance for the Survivor

The Allowance provides an income-tested benefit to low-income spouses of OAS pensioners or widows/widowers aged 60 to 64.

The Allowance for the survivor provides an income-tested monthly benefit paid to widowed persons aged 60 to 64.  The recipient must meet the income and residency requirements to apply.  The Allowance for the survivor ends if a person remarries.  The widowed person must annually reapply for this assistance.

Guaranteed Income Supplement

An OAS pensioner with no income or limited income apart from OAS may receive Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits.  These benefits are available only upon annual application by the individual.  The individual must declare on the application all income received during the previous calendar year.  (Clients may be eligible for BCEA if they are ineligible for GIS due to the previous year’s income and this income is no longer received.)

Old Age Security (OAS)

An OAS pension is payable to people who are 65 years of age or over and meet residency requirements.

Reciprocal agreements have been entered into with Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Denmark, Dominica, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Jamaica, Norway, Portugal, St. Lucia, Spain, Sweden, the United States of America, and the Federal Republic of Germany.  Therefore, residency in these countries may count as credit toward the Canadian residency requirement.

For more information on Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs, see the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Internet site [see Contacts - Old Age Security].

Retroactive Old Age Security (OAS) Payments

Recipients of income, disability or hardship assistance are not required to transfer retroactive OAS payments to the ministry by signing an assignment or Consent to Deduct form.  However, to continue to be eligible for assistance, they are required to pursue, accept or use eligible OAS benefits to support themselves and become partly or completely independent of assistance.  Applicants (excluding applicants with the Persons with Disabilities designation), but not recipients, can be issued Hardship – Awaiting Other Income due to pending OAS income. [For more information, see Related Links – Awaiting Other Income and Support, Shelter and Special Care Facilities.]

Effective: May 26, 2009

Homeowners who are 55 years of age or older, widowed, or qualifying persons with disabilities may defer the property taxes on their home until they no longer own it or the property is no longer the principal residence.

For more information on the Property Tax Deferment Program, see the Ministry of Finance Internet site. [see Contacts – Property Tax Deferment Program]

Effective: January 1, 2020

Assistance similar to Canada Pension Plan benefits may be obtained by applicants and recipients who are over age 60 or disabled, have only worked in Québec and contributed to the Québec Pension Plan.  

Applicants and recipients are not required to access retirement benefits before the age of 65.

Quebec Pension Plan benefits are considered unearned income [see Related Links- Income Treatment & Exemptions].

Overpayments due to undeclared Quebec Pension Plan benefits will be treated as any other undeclared unearned income.

For more information on the Quebec Pension Plan, see the Québec Pension Plan Internet site [see Contacts – Québec Pension Plan].

Effective: December 2, 2019

Definition of Default

The sponsor is in default of a Sponsorship Undertaking if assistance is issued to the sponsored relative while the Undertaking is still in effect.

The amount of any assistance issued while the Undertaking is in effect is a debt that the sponsor (and not the sponsored relative) will owe to the federal government or, on assignment, to the Province.

The debt remains outstanding even if the case is closed.  Consequently, sponsors may approach Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction offices to inquire about old debts as they discover that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will not accept new sponsorship applications from them until outstanding sponsorship default debts are repaid.

Note: Sponsors may contact the ministry to inquire about their debts by contacting the Financial and Administrative Services Branch [see Contacts- Sponsorship Default Line].

What the Sponsor Can Expect

The ministry makes every reasonable effort to ensure sponsors are contacted and asked if they can provide financial support to cover the essential needs (basic support and shelter) of the sponsored relative. The sponsor is told that if they cannot provide financial support and the sponsored relative is approved for assistance, then they are in default of their undertaking  and any assistance issued to the sponsored relative each month will become a debt that the sponsor must repay.

If the sponsored relative is eligible to receive assistance, the sponsor is notified by letter (HR2772).  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is notified that sponsorship default has occurred.

The sponsor will receive monthly statements regarding the debt and interest accumulation.

In cases where the sponsored relative has a health or safety concern, the sponsor will not be contacted or notified of the sponsorship default until the concern no longer exists or, if the concern still exists, the sponsored relative wants the ministry to contact the sponsor. The debt will still accrue even if the sponsor is not contacted.

If a sponsor has a health and/or safety concern and approaches the ministry with questions or concerns about their debt, they may contact the Financial Administrative Services Branch [see Contacts- Sponsorship Default Line] for further information and assistance.  The ministry makes every effort to ensure that individuals with health and or safety concerns regarding their sponsorship debt are assisted in a sensitive manner.  If collection of the debt places the individual at risk and there is substantiated evidence from a third party collection can be suspended until the concern no longer exists.

Eligibility Criteria

Where an applicant or adult dependant is the subject of a Sponsorship Undertaking that is still in effect, income assistance  or disability assistance cannot be issued until the sponsor confirms whether he or she is a resource.  Where a sponsor confirms that he or she is unable or unwilling to provide for the essential needs (including food, lodging, and clothing) of the sponsored family members or the sponsor cannot be contacted due to a health and/or safety concern, the family unit may be eligible for income assistance or disability assistance if they meet all other eligibility requirements.

Hardship assistance may be issued while awaiting confirmation or verification of the sponsorship undertaking period; and/or the sponsor’s ability to provide assistance  [see Related Links – Sponsorship Undertaking Default].

Where there are concerns about possible abuse, no contact is to be made with the sponsor, including by letter unless the sponsored relative wants the ministry to contact the sponsor.

Note: If the sponsor is not contacted, the sponsored relative must be advised of the following:
 

  • The sponsor is in default of a Sponsorship Undertaking and will incur a debt if assistance is issued. 
  • Initiation of debt collection may be suspended and the sponsor will not be contacted only if there is a health and/or safety concern and the individual does not want the ministry to contact the sponsor for this reason.

Applicants who fear for their safety are not required to provide substantiating documentation immediately upon making the claim. Documentation may be requested by Financial and Administrative Services Branch (FASB) staff after one year and on an annual basis thereafter to confirm that the risk still exists. Examples of documentation include:

  • Police incident report of event;
  • Court orders (such as a current restraining order);
  • Hospital records indicating physical injuries as result of assault;
  • Verification in writing from a transition house and/or support worker from an agency; and/or
  • A Doctor’s report describing the current and ongoing treatment of the physical/mental effect of assault/abuse.       

Any contribution received from a sponsor is unearned income, not exempt and is deducted from assistance.  Advise the client to report this money on the Monthly Report (HR0081).

Where an applicant resides with a sponsor, shelter must not be paid unless the sponsor is also in receipt of BCEA.  

Effective: December 1, 2003

War Veterans and Civilian War Allowance

Veterans and certain civilians who meet income, service, age or health, and residency requirements may be eligible to receive an allowance and related assistance.

Treatment Benefits

Treatment benefits may include medical, surgical and dental care, prosthetic services, home adaptations, supplementary benefits such as travel costs for examinations or treatment, and other community health care services and benefits.  Palliative and respite care may also be provided.

Veterans Independence Program

This program provides a variety of services to help eligible veterans remain healthy and independent in their own homes or communities.

Disability and Survivor Benefits

Pensions and other allowances are awarded to current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces or their survivors for disability or death related to wartime and peacetime military service.

Disability pensioners who are severely disabled may qualify for a clothing allowance, an attendance allowance or an exceptional incapacity allowance in addition to their pension.

Other Resources for Veterans

Clothing allowances may also be available from programs such as HOMES BC, Community Housing Initiatives (CHI), Rent Supplements Program, Supported Independent Living Program (SILP), Tenant Resources, and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER).

For more information on Resources and Benefits for Veterans, see the Veterans Affairs Canada Internet site.  [see Contacts – Veterans Affairs Canada]

Effective: December 1, 2003

Workers’ Compensation Board benefits include return to work, wage loss, pension, and medical aid benefits to injured workers, those suffering from occupational diseases, and dependants of workers who are killed.

For more information on the Workers’ Compensation Board benefits, see the WorkSafeBC Internet site.  [see Contacts – WorkSafe]

Procedures

Effective: January 1, 2020

Forward all CPP Retirement and Disability Benefit enquiries and applications to the Provincial CPP Recovery Program-FASB (FASB).

If clients are enquiring where to send their CPP applications (ISP1000) and/or Consent to Deduction and Payment (ISP1613) and other required documents (if applicable), staff should advise that they have the option to:

  • Send the applications and documents to their local office who will then forward them to FASB
  • Send the applications and documents directly to FASB [see Contacts]
  • Call the toll-free number for any CPP-related enquiries [see Contacts]

When the client submits completed CPP application packages or the ISP1613:
 

  • Forward all originals to the address indicated on the self-addressed envelope via house mail
  • If the client does not have the self-addressed envelope, forward all originals to the FASB mailing address [see Contacts] via house mail.

CPP applications can be submitted on behalf of another person but must be signed by the applicant or the applicant’s legal representative.  Individuals should be advised of this, and should not continue to be eligible for assistance if they repeatedly fail to apply for this reason.

Note: These documents must not be forwarded to Service Canada and are only to be profiled in the system by FASB.

Transferring CPP applications and documents to FASB:

Statement of Contributions or letters from Service Canada (not ISP1613 or application documents) can be faxed or scanned as per below, or may be sent via house mail to FASB.

ICM Scan to Folder

Fax

Scan document into MFD, then transfer to Office 013-CPP folder

Send to 1 866-696-5006

Do not profile or create a Service Request

Do not profile or create a Service Request

Effective: June 3, 2011

All applicants and recipients are required to sign an assignment of Canada Pension Plan Benefits, the Consent to Deduction and Payment Form (ISP1613) [see Additional Resources]  when they apply for CPP benefits

Completing a Consent to Deduction and Payment

To complete a Consent to Deduction and Payment form for clients who have applied for and are awaiting CPP benefits in excess of $50 follow these steps:
 

  1. Complete the Consent to Deduction and Payment (ISP1613) and have the applicants/recipients sign and date where required.  [see Additional Resources]

Note: Whenever possible, the ISP1613 should accompany the original CPP application.
 

  1. Provide client with a photo-copy of pages four and five and forward original ISP1613 to Provincial CPP Recovery Program – FASB (FASB) via in house mail.
     
  2. Provincial CPP Recovery Program-FASB (FASB) staff ensure completeness of the ISP1613 and distribute the original five pages of the ISP1613 as follows:
  • after FASB profiles entire ISP1613 to service request, pages one and two are mailed to the federal government’s Income Security Programs office [for the address, see Contacts]
  • page three is scanned to the service request and then batch filed
  • pages four and five are the client copies and are mailed to the client
  1. If the client is approved for CPP, the Income Security Programs will request information regarding the amount of assistance paid to the client.
     
  2. If the reimbursement is accepted, the federal government will request section C of the ISP1613 be completed and forwarded to the federal office.  The federal government will then complete section D of the form, and return a copy of the form with the reimbursement cheque for assistance issued pending CPP benefits in excess of $50.  Federal government will forward the cheque and ISP1613 to FASB.

Effective: September 1, 2015

Ministry staff should provide clients information on the available resources to pursue child support. Staff may provide the client a copy of the Family Maintenance Services Information Sheet.

[For more information, see Policy and Related Links Family Maintenance Services – Additional Resources and Income Treatment and Exemptions – Policy]

Effective: January 1, 2020

Pursuing allowances under the Old Age Security (OAS) program and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) Pensions

To inform clients to apply for OAS and GIS, ministry staff use office caseload management protocol to follow up on the client’s requirement to apply for OAS and GIS.

[For more information, see Policy – Old Age Security Program.] 

Effective: December 2, 2019

Before Assistance Is Issued

Once the Employment and Assistance Application (HR0080) [see Forms and Letters] is signed by the applicant (and any adult dependant) who is the subject of a sponsorship undertaking that is still in effect, ministry staff follow these steps:

EAW

1.

For initial steps see Related Links – Sponsorship Undertaking Default. These procedures are for cases where the sponsor has confirmed they are not a resource, or a health and/or safety threat has been claimed by the applicant and sponsorship undertaking period has been confirmed.

2.

If there are concerns about contacting the sponsor, make note of this on the system, then skip ahead to Step 4, Health and/or Safety Concerns.

3.

Complete the Sponsorship Obligations – Applicant letter (HR2771) and send to the applicant and refer the case to Financial Administrative Services Branch (FASB) for debt administration.

 

4.

Health and/or Safety Concerns

If the sponsored relative indicates they have a health and/or safety concern and they do not want the sponsor contacted, ensure that any concerns are recorded on the system. Staff should be sensitive to cultural and gender differences around this issue.  When appropriate, ensure the sponsored relative is comfortable with the interview process and provide alternative approaches (same gender interviewer or the client brings a friend or support person with them).  The following steps must be followed:
 

  1. Staff will record the details of the applicant’s health and/or safety concerns in the case notes and why they do not want the sponsor contacted. 
  2. Explain that the ministry cannot share their personal information or whereabouts with anyone. 

Do they have family or friends who can help them if need be?  Provide contact information for local support agencies and/or transition houses and confirm that they know they can call the police for assistance.  Encourage them to seek help when needed and to learn more about their rights from an appropriate agency. If there are any barriers to accessing resources, see if assistance can be provided in overcoming those barriers.

5.

Complete the Sponsorship Obligations – Applicant letter (HR2771) and send to the applicant and refer the case to Financial Administrative Services Branch (FASB) for debt administration and inform FASB of the result of health and/or safety threat concern.  

6.

For further information see Related Links- Persons Fleeing Abuse

 

Effective: â€‹December 1, 2003 

Employment and Assistance Workers (EAWs) must:
 

  • contact the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) counsellor to request confirmation of the first payment
  • complete the Assignment – Veterans Affairs Canada (HR2098) [see Forms and Letters] unless VAC benefits will be received within one month

Reimbursement is made by VAC to Financial Administrative Services Branch once VAC benefits have commenced. 

Effective: December 1, 2003

To establish a claim, clients must submit an accident report to WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation Board of BC.  As soon as the Employment and Assistance Worker (EAW) becomes aware that a client has established or may be able to establish a WorkSafeBC claim, the EAW assigns the client’s future benefits from WorkSafeBC by completing an Assignment – WorkSafeBC (HR2100) [see Forms and Letters] with the client.

When the WorkSafeBC claim has been settled, WorkSafeBC will:
 

  • contact the Employment and Assistance Office to request a statement of the total assistance issued pending settlement
  • forward payment to the ministry and notify the recipient

Depending on the outcome of the claim, the EAW does the following:
 

  • if the client’s claim is denied, assess eligibility for BCEA even if the client is appealing the WorkSafeBC denial
  • if the client’s claim is rejected, complete an eligibility review [see Related Links – Eligibility Review] to determine ongoing eligibility for assistance
  • if the client is appealing the amount of compensation, continue to take assignments and the client will continue to receive BCEA

For pension assignments, confirm the period of pension eligibility before completing the assignment, and ensure that only duplicate assistance is assigned.

If a lump sum amount represents a retroactive WorkSafeBC payment, only the portion covering the same period of time that BCEA was issued is to be assigned. 

A commuted lump sum WorkSafeBC payment is not to be assigned, except for the portion that represents a corresponding time period for which assistance was issued. 

WorkSafeBC rehabilitation and training allowances are not to be assigned.  

Effective: May 1, 2015

Children may be eligible for income assistance apart from the family only after reasonable efforts have been made to have the parent or guardian support them.  

Authorities and Responsibilities

Effective: January 1, 2020

Provincial CPP Recovery Program – FASB
  • Manages all Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability and Retirement Benefit enquiries and applications for the province.