Financial Help for People with Disabilities (Script 289)

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

People with disabilities can get financial help and support from several places. This script explains some of the help available, plus how and where to get more information. It does not list every possible type of help, but it’s a good starting point. Some information appears in more than one place.

Many financial assistance programs require you to report any other money and support you are receiving, such as pension and employment insurance benefits. You should check with each program about its rules on reporting other benefits you receive, and how they may affect your disability assistance.

Canadian government help and programs

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefit

A monthly CPP disability benefit may be available to people who:

  • are under 65,
  • stopped working because of a medical condition, and
  • paid into the Canada Pension Plan.

CPP Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program

This program offers vocational counseling, financial support for training, and job search services to people who receive CPP Disability Benefits to help them return to work.

Registered Disability Savings Plan(RDSP)

This federal grant/bond program provides up to $4,500 in free grants/bonds a year, with a savings deposit of $1,500 each year. Anyone under 60 who is eligible for the disability tax credit can establish an RDSP. For a disabled child, the parent or guardian can set up the RDSP. The RDSP is a way for a person or child with a disability and their families to save for the future.

Tax breaks

Several tax benefits are available to people with disabilities, including the disability tax credit. The Canada Revenue Agency website has details.

Federal excise gasoline tax refund

If a medical doctor certifies that a person has permanent mobility impairment and cannot safely use public transport, they can apply for a refund of part of the federal excise tax on the gas they buy.

Disability benefits for veterans

Disabled veterans may qualify for the Veterans Affairs Canada disability benefit—an award or pension. Veterans may also be eligible for other financial support, such as the War Veterans Allowance.

Employment Insurance compassionate care benefits

People can receive compassionate care benefits for up to six weeks if they have to miss work temporarily to care for a family member who is gravely ill with a significant risk of death. Unemployed people who are already receiving Employment Insurance benefits can also apply for compassionate care benefits.

Persons with Disabilities Online, tax and financial benefits

Various benefits are explained on this website.

Income assistance

This site lists many other federal benefits (organized by category), such as:

  • Employment Insurance regular benefits
  • Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits
  • Employment Insurance (EI) fishing benefits
  • The GST/HST credit for people with low or modest incomes
  • The GST/HST general rebates
  • Employment Insurance benefits to certain people who live outside Canada if their job is insured under Canada's EI program
  • International benefits

Income assistance for people with disabilities

This site lists income assistance and other programs and services for people with disabilities.

Benefits Finder

This site asks several questions about your situation and then generates a list of possible BC and federal benefits, with links to the programs.

BC government help and programs

BC Income Assistance

The BCEA program helps adults 18 or over who are designated as a person with disabilities resulting from a physical or mental impairment that significantly restricts their ability to perform daily living activities. Some examples of assistance are:

  • monthly support and shelter allowance
  • various supplements, including health supplements
  • medical coverage
  • low-cost annual bus passes
  • transportation support allowance (as of September 1, 2016)
  • career planning services
  • job training

The BCEA program also offers other help to people with disabilities (including children, adults, and their families). This includes:

  • procedural help for 17½-year-olds to apply for the person with disabilities designation so they can receive disability assistance when they turn 18.
  • increased assets limit of $100,000 based on family unit size.
  • Annualized Earnings Exemption (AEE) starting at $1,000 per full calendar month ($12,000 per full calendar year) for a single-person family unit and more for family units of more than 1 person. People on disability assistance can use their earnings exemption on a yearly (instead of monthly) basis, without a monthly maximum.

You can apply for assistance online.

The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has detailed information on income assistance for persons with disabilities. Or you can call the ministry at 1.866.866.0800.

If you have an outstanding arrest warrant for an indictable or hybrid offence anywhere in Canada, you cannot get income or disability assistance in BC unless you first do something about the warrant. Check script 204, on "Outstanding Warrants and Welfare", for details.

The Bus Pass Program offers lower cost, annual bus passes for low income seniors and people receiving disability assistance from BC.

Call Enquiry BC to ask about any provincial program. The numbers are 604.660.2421 in Vancouver, 250.387.6121 in Victoria, and 1.800.663.7867 elsewhere in BC.

Financial help for students with disabilities (from Canadian and BC governments)

Canada Student Loans Program—Permanent Disability Benefit

Students with a permanent disability who are having trouble repaying their loans due to their disability can apply to the National Student Loans Service Centre to have their loans forgiven (so they don’t have to repay the loan).

Canada student grant for students with permanent disabilities

This program helps part- or full-time students with permanent disabilities with the cost of education.

Canada student grant for services and equipment for students with permanent disabilities

This program helps part- or full-time students with permanent disabilities pay for exceptional education related costs for services and equipment.

Canada student grant for students with dependants

This program helps full-time students with the cost of education if they have dependants 12 or older with a permanent disability. Part-time students are also eligible.

StudentAid BC

This BC government website has information on student loans, grants, and scholarships. It also has programs that help with loan repayment. And you can apply for student loans on the site. Search the site for “disability” to find all the relevant information.

BC assistance program for students with permanent disabilities

This program helps students with permanent disabilities pay for exceptional education-related services and adaptive equipment.

BC supplemental bursary for students with a permanent disability

Various bursaries are available, depending on your course load.

BC access grant for students with permanent disabilities

This program helps full-time students with a permanent disability with the cost of education by replacing about $1,000 in BC student loan funding.

BC access grant for deaf students

This grant helps deaf and hard-of-hearing students with the additional costs while attending specialized post-secondary institutions where curriculum is delivered in American Sign Language.

Youth educational assistance fund for former youth in care

This program provides grants up to $5,500 to former BC youth in care students between 19 and 23 years old. They have to meet several criteria, including being a full-time student or a student with a permanent disability studying at a reduced course load.

Repayment assistance plan for borrowers with a permanent disability

This plan helps you manage your Canada Student Loan and B.C. Student Loan debt by reducing your monthly payment and letting you pay back what you can reasonably afford.

Grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid

Several BC and federal grants and scholarships listed here are for students with a permanent disability.

Severe permanent disability benefit

This program forgives (or cancels) student loans if you have a severe permanent disability that prevents you from working or going to school, and prevents you from ever being able to repay your loans.

Learning disability assessment bursary

This bursary program helps part- and full-time students with the initial costs of the learning disabilities assessment.

Other help and information

  • The Law Centre: this clinic in Victoria, run by University of Victoria law students, helps people with disabilities (who cannot afford a lawyer) to get employment insurance, CPP disability benefits, and other benefits. They also help with appeals. Call 250.385.1221.
  • Law Students’ Legal Advice Program: this is like The Law Centre in Victoria, but University of BC law students operate it. Clinics are throughout Greater Vancouver. Call 604.822.5791.

[updated June 2018]

The above was edited by John Blois.

© Copyright 2018, Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch. Dial-A-Law is a registered trademark owned by Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, a non-profit membership corporation.

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