British Columbians receiving disability assistance will be able to hold significantly more assets and receive financial gifts and inheritances with no impact on their monthly assistance thanks to changes being made by the provincial government.
Beginning Dec. 1, 2015, the amount of assets that people receiving disability assistance may hold without losing eligibility for assistance will rise to $100,000 for an individual with the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation, and $200,000 for a couple where both have PWD designation. Currently, the asset limits are $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.
And for the first time in B.C., persons with disabilities will be able to receive cash gifts with no effect on their eligibility for assistance. Under current policy, people receiving income and disability assistance can only receive one-time gifts without affecting their eligibility.
In the case of an inheritance, the higher asset limits will free up many clients from having to set aside that money in a trust.
These changes will allow people receiving disability assistance to enhance their financial security, while also giving their families, friends or community groups the opportunity to provide additional support.
The new policies build on changes government has already made to help people with disabilities lead fuller and more secure lives, including an increase in earnings exemptions, annual earnings exemptions, and the Accessibility 2024 plan to make British Columbia the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities.
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“I know that persons with disabilities can face real challenges in finding employment, earning money to support their independence, and saving money for the future. We have heard from families they want more opportunities to financially support their loved ones and ensure a secure future for them. That’s why our government has made it easier to work, earn money, gain independence and now, to build long-term savings.”
Jane Dyson, executive director, Disability Alliance BC –
“Disability Alliance BC is delighted by today’s announcement. It’s an enormous step forward and we congratulate the Province for making this positive change. It means British Columbians with disabilities will have more independence, choice and dignity. And families will be better able to help their loved ones. This is great news.”
James Ho, founder/CEO, Mainstream Broadcasting Co.; member of Minister's Council on Employment and Accessibility –
“This is a quantum leap forward for people with disabilities and their families. This visionary policy will further inspire and encourage people with disabilities toward increased personal independence.”
Al Etmanski, president, Planned Advocacy Lifetime Network (PLAN) –
“For the first time ever, a government is acknowledging that people with disabilities are economic citizens. This spells a profound shift from welfare to well-being. This opens the door for people with disabilities to become masters of their own destiny – something they’ve desired for a long time. For their parents and those who love them, it also spells peace of mind.”
Kathy Bromley, parent, Advocate for People with Disabilities, writer-
“As a parent of a daughter with disabilities, this is an exciting day. Our dream is for our child, Shannon, to achieve independence and have a great future to look forward to. This is a big step in that direction.”
Ted Kuntz, father, chair of the Board of Directors of PLAN –
“These are important changes for individuals who live with a disability and their families. They mean I can augment the disability supports provided by government to help my son live well. Government support is a foundation that families can now build on. These new policies are a great step to financial security and a good life.”
- B.C. and Alberta now have the highest allowable asset levels for people with disabilities in Canada.
- B.C. joins Alberta as the only provinces to exempt gifts for disability assistance clients without a limit.
- As of August 2015, there were about 96,000 people receiving disability assistance in BC.
- The ministry will provide about $976 million in disability assistance in 2015-16, an increase of 162% since 2001-02.
- A wide array of programs and services are available across government for people with disabilities with total funding of more than $5 billion a year.
- These changes are the latest in a series of moves by government to help persons with disabilities find employment and enjoy more financial security.
- B.C. was the first province in Canada to annualize earnings exemptions, so people with disabilities can earn up to $9,600 per year without losing eligibility for assistance.
- Couples with one person designated as a person with a disability can earn up to $12,000 annually.
- Couples or families where two people are designated as a person with a disability can earn up to $19,200 annually.
- Government has set a goal of making B.C. the most progressive place in Canada for people with disabilities with the Accessibility 2024 plan.
Accessibility 2024: http://ow.ly/TXSEU
Services for People with Disabilities: www.gov.bc.ca/disabilityservices
Fact Sheet on Services for People with Disabilities: http://ow.ly/TXTaU