I Have Been Denied or Cut off Welfare
You have the right to challenge (appeal) most decisions about having a monthly benefit or supplement denied, cut off, or reduced. You can also challenge some decisions about penalties, and if the ministry says you are not eligible for the PWD designation or for designation as a Person with Persistent Multiple Barriers to Employment ("PPMB").
You can ask for a reconsideration of the Ministry’s decision. If that does not work, you can usually file an appeal to the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal, or EAAT.
|Most people get welfare through the provincial government Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. People who live on an Indian reserve get welfare through the First Nations band or tribal council. The process is roughly the same on and off reserve.
If you live on 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.
Before you get started:
- Be sure to read the "Reconsideration and Appeal" topic at page 47 of How to Apply for Welfare. It tells you what steps to take and what to expect.
- Get help from an advocate. (See the listing for PovNet in the Resource List of this Guide for contact and website information for welfare advocates in your area.)
To start the process:
Follow the steps in the Reconsideration and Appeal topic at page 47 of How to Apply for Welfare.
In summary, here is how you begin:
- You 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.
- You ask a Ministry worker to prepare and provide you with a Request for Reconsideration form.
- Follow the tips and information for reconsideration in How to Apply for Welfare. Complete the Request for Reconsideration form and return it to the welfare office within 20 business days. When you complete the form, focus on how the Ministry applied the welfare rules incorrectly. Attach copies of any documents or other evidence that supports your side of the story. If you need more time to give the Ministry more documents or argument, see the information about how to ask for more time at page 47 in How to Apply for Welfare.
What happens next
You should receive a response to your request for 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 say which law or policy the Ministry based the reconsideration decision on, and whether you may appeal the decision to the "Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal".
If you don’t agree with the reconsideration decision and want to appeal it, you must file a Notice of Appeal with the "Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal" within 7 business days of the date you received the reconsideration decision. Get an advocate to help you with your appeal. See the listing for PovNet in the Resource List of this guide to contact a welfare advocate in your area.
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 How to Apply for Welfare and Income Assistance on Reserve in British Columbia.
- BC Employment and Assistance website. At the website, go to the information on Reconsideration and Appeals
- PovNet, for their Find An Advocate feature for welfare advocates near you.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common questions If I don’t get welfare this month I’ll lose my housing and I have an outstanding arrest warrant and I need welfare. What can I do?. Clicklaw has many common questions on the topic pensions, benefits & welfare.
Before you meet with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this guide. Make sure to take copies of all the documents about your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Alison Ward, July 2021.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|