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) benefits provided by the federal government.  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 issued 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:  January 1, 2020

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) benefits provided by the federal government.  Dependent children awaiting EI benefits do not affect the family unit’s eligibility for assistance. 

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

To qualify for this category of hardship, applicants must apply for EI benefits with from the federal government and sign an EI Assignment of Benefit (AOB) form (HR2528) [see Policy – Assignment of Employment Insurance Benefits]. Hardship assistance provided for special care facility user charges and comforts is not repayable/assignable.

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

Hardship under this category is not payable during the one-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 AOB, applicants assign their EI benefits to the ministry authorizing the federal government to reimburse the ministry directly through weekly deductions from their EI benefit payments and eliminate dual payments.

The AOB determines:
 

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

The MWLA applies every week of the assignment period.  This ensures that the federal government 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. 

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

Note: Though hardship assistance recipients may be eligible for some supplements, these supplements are not to be included in the AOB [see Related Links – Eligibility for Hardship Assistance – Policy – Non-Repayable Hardship Assistance].

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 assistance.

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 benefits.  A repayment agreement is not to be taken for the one-week EI waiting period.  Recipients of disability assistance are responsible to declare EI benefit 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 benefits, the 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 benefits applicant, hardship assistance or disability assistance 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 benefits 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) benefits application with the federal government.  Staff verify the status of the applicant’s EI benefits application by using WebAOBLink to determine if an EI benefits 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 benefits 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 benefits by reviewing the applicants’ Record of Employment and accessing the federal government’s website to confirm the required number of insurable hours within a specific EI benefits 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 one-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 assistance under this category to an applicant after the one-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 benefits applicant, hardship assistance must always be issued via a supplier imprest cheque to the spouse so that the cheque will have the same name as the Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form (HR2528). To avoid this problem, the worker should always try to set up the initial case with the EI benefits applicant as the primary applicant.
  2. If the spouse is the person awaiting EI benefits, ensure the AOB 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 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 AOB to the person awaiting EI benefits.  A second copy of the AOB must be scanned and profiled and sent to Administrative staff, who then forward it to Financial and Administrative Services Branch (FASB). 

    Note: Administrative staff are required to submit AOBs with the Assignment of Benefit Transmittal (HR3569) form to FASB on a weekly basis, preferably on Mondays.  FASB forwards the received 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).  

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

    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 benefits.

Note: Eligible applicants with the PWD designation awaiting EI benefits receive disability assistance, not hardship assistance, after completing and signing the manual AOB form (HR2528) [see Forms and Letters]. The Transportation Supplement is issued to disability assistance recipients, but it is not to be included in the HR2528 [see Related Links – Transportation Supplement].

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

Note: once a completed AOB has been received by Service Canada, the ministry cannot adjust amounts already determined on the AOB.  If applicants claim that Service Canada deducted from their EI benefit weekly payments more than the weekly amount of the hardship assistance (as stated on the 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 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 assistance and EI benefits - for the same period of time (dual or duplicate payments). 

The Minimum Weekly Living Allowance (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.

    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 benefits on Monday, September 9, which means the one-week waiting period starts on Monday, September 9, and ends on Saturday, September 14 (the Saturday after EI benefits application).

On Tuesday, September 10, the applicant signed the application and was found eligible for hardship assistance while the EI benefits claim was being processed.  For September, the applicant would be eligible for:
 

  • Hardship under Awaiting Other Income:
    • pro-rated support for five days (remainder of one-week waiting period, from September 10 to 14)
    • shelter for September if required
  • Hardship under Awaiting EI Benefits:
    • pro-rated support from September 14 until the end of the calendar month (16 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. To minimize deductions from EI benefits, only the minimum amount of hardship assistance should be issued. 

Effective:  July 29, 2009

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

Effective:  July 29, 2009

If the federal government deems a person ineligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, 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 one week 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 recipients start receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, either of the following may apply:
 

  • if their EI benefits income is less than their income assistance rate, they may be considered for income assistance, and the EI benefits will be deducted as unearned income [for information on EI benefits income, see Related Links – Income Treatment & Exemptions]
  • if their EI benefits 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.