I Have Been Denied or Cut off Welfare
| Update: A number of changes to income assistance came into effect on October 1, 2012. The Ministry of Social Development website provides a summary of the changes. This page is in the process of being updated to account for the changes.
Most people get welfare through the provincial government Ministry of Social Development (MSD). However, people living on an Indian reserve get welfare through the Indian band or tribal council in the area they live. The process below is roughly the same on and off reserve.
If you have had a welfare benefit or supplement denied, cut off or reduced, you can ask for a reconsideration of that decision. You can also ask for a reconsideration if you have been denied a designation as a person entitled to disability benefits. If you are not satisfied with the result of the reconsideration, you may be able to appeal the reconsideration decision to an appeal tribunal.
- Ask a Ministry worker why the benefit or supplement was denied, cut off or reduced. Get them to tell you what law or policy they based their decision on.
- Ask a Ministry worker to prepare and provide you with a Request for Reconsideration form. Make sure that any evidence the Ministry used to make their decision is attached to the form.
- Complete the Request for Reconsideration form and return it to the welfare office within 20 business days. In completing the form, focus on how the Ministry applied the welfare rules incorrectly.
|It is very important to make your best case when you are requesting a reconsideration. Supply as much information as you can, and attach copies of any documents or other evidence that supports your side of the story. If you have to appeal a decision after reconsideration, you may be limited to the information you used in your original Request for Reconsideration. It can be a good idea to get help from a welfare advocate. See the listing for PovNet in the Resource List of this Guide for contact and website information for welfare advocates in your area.|
- If you need more time to gather documents or other evidence to support your reconsideration request then, you may be able to get it. You must still give the Ministry your completed Request for Reconsideration form within 20 business days of the Ministry's decision. When you do that, you can ask the Ministry in writing for more time to provide other supporting information. The Ministry can give you an extension of as long as another 19 business days to do that.
- If you are requesting reconsideration of a decision to cut off or reduce your welfare benefits or a supplement, you can ask the Ministry to give you a "reconsideration supplement" while the Ministry is reviewing your Request for Reconsideration. A reconsideration supplement means the Ministry would pay you welfare benefits or a supplement at the rate you used to get, until the Ministry has had time to make its Reconsideration Decision. If you lose your Request for Reconsideration, you will have to pay the reconsideration supplement back to the Ministry.
What happens next
You should receive a response to your reconsideration within a couple of weeks. If you don’t, contact the Ministry and ask a worker to explain why there is a delay. If you are not satisfied with their explanation, ask to speak to a supervisor.
The reconsideration decision will say whether or not your benefit or supplement has been granted or refused. It should also specify the law or policy on which the reconsideration decision was based, and indicate whether you may appeal the decision to an Appeal Tribunal.
If you don’t agree with the reconsideration decision:
- Decide whether to appeal or simply re-apply for the benefit or supplement. In some cases, it may be easier and quicker to re-apply for the benefit with more evidence than you gave the first time. Welfare advocates can help you make this decision. (See PovNet for contact and website information for welfare advocates in your area.)
- If you decide to appeal, get a copy of a Notice of Appeal to the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal from the welfare office.
- Complete the Notice of Appeal and return it to the welfare office within seven business days after you received the reconsideration decision.
- You can ask the Ministry for an "appeal supplement" until the Tribunal makes its decision about your case. If you lose the appeal, you will have to repay the appeal supplement to the Ministry.
|If you live on an Indian reserve, call the band office and ask to speak to the social development worker. This person can help with your application for emergency income assistance or hardship benefits, and tell you what to do if you want to appeal a decision.|
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- The Legal Services Society publications: "Your Welfare Rights: A Guide to BC Employment and Assistance" and "Social Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia".
- BC Employment and Assistance website: click on "Reconsideration and Appeals".
- PovNet, for their "Find an Advocate" feature for welfare advocates near you.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, Salvation Army Pro Bono Lawyer Consultation Program, and Private Bar Lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common question "If I don’t get welfare this month I’ll lose my housing". Clicklaw has many common questions on the topic "Pensions, benefits & welfare".
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This Guide explains the law and legal procedures in general. It is not intended to give legal advice on your particular legal problem, and should not be relied on for that purpose. Information in this Guide is accurate as at November 2012. Please note that fees and guidelines outlined in the Guide are subject to change.|
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