The B.C. government's move toward annualized earnings exemptions, which begins in January 2013, is being welcomed as a positive step forward for British Columbians on disability assistance.
Annualized earnings exemptions give individuals on disability assistance the flexibility to calculate exempted earnings on an annual basis if they choose. This option is beneficial for people with episodic medical conditions that prevent them from working consistently to make the most of earnings exemptions.
"This is good news for those whose ability to earn fluctuates from month to month," said Social Development Minister Dr. Moira Stilwell. "Annualized earnings exemptions encourage individuals to work as they are able without affecting their disability assistance."
Advocates for people with disabilities say these changes will help individuals who rely on disability assistance. "This increase in the earnings exemption and the ability to claim an annual exemption is a very positive step forward," said Jane Dyson of the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities. "Someone with a disability who can work will have more flexibility to work when they are able to and pursue their own goals."
Kendra Milne of the Community Legal Assistance Society agrees. "The availability of annualized earnings exemptions will provide greater flexibility for people whose ability to work varies over time because of their disability," Milne said. "They will be better able to take advantage of earnings exemptions through an annualized system."
Annualized earnings exemptions are being introduced in a phased approach. Approximately 5,000 individuals on disability assistance whose earnings patterns show they are most likely to benefit from this change were given the option to participate in the program in 2013. This phased approach will allow the ministry to monitor the program and make necessary adjustments before opening the program up to all British Columbians on disability assistance in January 2014.
Annualized earnings exemptions limits, which will cover earnings from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, are:
- $9,600 for one-adult families, where the adult has the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation.
- $12,000 for two-adult families, where only one adult has the PWD designation.
- $19,200 for two-adult families, where both adults have the PWD designation.
Individuals chosen to participate in this first phase of implementation for annualized earnings exemptions must have:
- Had the PWD designation for at least the past 12 months;
- Received disability assistance in at least the past two consecutive months; and
- In at least one of the past 12 months, had earnings over $500 for families with one adult with a PWD designation and $750 for families where both adults have PWD designations.
Annualized earnings exemptions were announced in June as part of B.C.'s Families First Agenda, which also included increases to earnings exemption limits for people on disability assistance. Earnings exemptions help ensure those who are able to work are supported and encouraged to find employment without compromising their assistance. B.C. is one of the first jurisdictions to introduce annualized earnings exemptions with the goal of helping people and families become self-sufficient so they can contribute to an expanding economy and healthy communities.
For more information about Ministry of Social Development services and programs for individuals with disabilities, call toll-free 1 866 866-0800 or go to : www.gov.bc.ca/hsd
For media inquiries, contact:
Ministry of Social Development