Script 289 gives information only, not legal advice. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer. For the name of a lawyer to consult, call Lawyer Referral at 604.687.3221 in the lower mainland or 1.800.663.1919 elsewhere in British Columbia.
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 to learn more.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits
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.
Go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and click on “Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits”.
The CPP Disability Vocational Rehabilitation Program
The Canada Pension Plan Disability Vocational Rehabilitation 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. Go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and search for “vocational rehabilitation program”.
BC Employment and Assistance (BCEA) Program
The BCEA program helps adults 18 or over who have a physical or mental impairment that significantly restricts their ability to perform daily living activities. Some examples are:
- monthly support and shelter allowance
- various supplements, including health supplements
- better medical coverage
- low-cost annual bus passes
- career planning services
- job training
Go to www.hsd.gov.bc.ca/pwd.htm or call the Ministry of Social Development at 1.866.866.0800. To apply for BCEA, go to www.hsd.gov.bc.ca/bcea.htm.
But if a person has an outstanding arrest warrant for an indictable or hybrid offence anywhere in Canada, they cannot get income or disability assistance in BC unless they first do something about the warrant. Check script 204 called “Outstanding Warrants and Welfare” for details.
Other provincial help under the BCEA program
The BCEA program also offers other help to people with disabilities (including children, adults, and their families). This includes:
- procedural help for 17-year-olds to apply for disability benefits so they can receive help when they turn 18.
- financial supplements for people with mental health problems who participate in a volunteer or mental health or addictions rehabilitation program.
- an earnings exemption of up to $300 month for a family unit made up of a person with a dependent child who has a physical or mental condition preventing the person from leaving home to work or from working more than 30 hours a week on average.
Financial help and grants for students with disabilities
- Federal grants: Students with permanent disabilities may receive federal government grants of $2,000 per academic year to help pay accommodation costs, tuition, and books. They may also get up to $8,000 in non-repayable help per academic year for special education-related services or equipment, such as tutors, note-takers, interpreters, braillers, and technical aids. Go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and under “People with Disabilities” click on “See all for People with Disabilities”.
- Provincial grants: Disabled students attending college, technical school, university, or other public or private post-secondary schools in BC may be eligible for a provincial grant from Student Aid BC of up to $10,000 for exceptional educated-related services and adaptive equipment (up to $12,000 if an attendant is needed at school). Go to www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc and search for “assistance program for students with permanent disabilities”.
- Student loan forgiveness: Full-time students with a permanent disability may be eligible for a grant to replace about $1,000 in BC student loan funding. Go to www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc and search for “loan forgiveness program”.
Other financial help for students with disabilities who are studying at a post-secondary institution includes a supplemental bursary of $400 for part-time students and $800 for full-time students and a special grant for deaf students. Check the Student Aid BC website at www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc. Click on “Explore” and then on “Grants and scholarships”.
Registered Disability Savings Plan
The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is a federal grant/bond program that 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. Go to www.hrsdc.gc.ca and search for “registered disability savings plan”.
Several tax benefits are available to people with disabilities, including the disability tax credit. Check the Canada Revenue Agency website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/disability.
Federal gas 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. Go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and search for “gasoline tax refund program”.
Help for disabled veterans
Disabled veterans may qualify for the Veterans Affairs Canada disability benefit—an award or pension. Check www.veterans.gc.ca. Click on “Services and Benefits” and then on “Disability Benefits”. Veterans may also be eligible for several other benefits, such as the War Veterans Allowance listed on this website, under “Services & Benefits”.
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 EI benefits can also apply for compassionate care benefits. Go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and search for “compassionate care benefits”.
Other benefits for people with disabilities
People with disabilities may be eligible for many other benefits, 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
- The ecoAUTO rebate
- Employment Insurance benefits to certain people who live outside Canada if their job is insured under Canada's EI program
- International benefits
Check the “Income Assistance” section of the Service Canada website at www.servicecanada.gc.ca. Or call Service Canada at 1.800.622.6232 to ask about any of these programs.
Where else can you get help or find information?
- Persons with Disabilities Online: Check this federal government website at www.pwd-online.ca. Click on “Tax and Financial Benefits” and choose BC as the province for information on benefits, tax help, and student loans, grants and scholarships.
- Ministry of Social Development: This BC government website (www.hsd.gov.bc.ca/links/pwd.htm) has information on subsidized housing, free campsite parking, and more.
- 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. Click www.thelawcentre.ca or call 250.385.1221.
- Law Students’ Legal Advice Program: This program is similar to The Law Centre in Victoria, but University of BC law students operate it. Clinics are throughout Greater Vancouver. Click www.lslap.bc.ca or call 604.822.5791.
- Personal Supports: Check the BC Personal Supports website at www.personalsupports.bc.ca. It has information about, and links to, programs that provide equipment, assistive devices, and other personal supports for people with disabilities in BC.
- The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities: the Coalition website (www.bccpd.bc.ca) has several helpful plain-language publications. Click on “Library” and then on “Money and Income Supports” for information on “BC disability benefits” and “Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits.” These publications have checklists, help sheets, application guides, and appeal guides. The Coalition’s phone numbers are 604.875.0188 in Vancouver and 1.800.663.1278 elsewhere in BC.
- Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS): Based in Victoria, TAPS offers free legal help for people with income assistance, disability benefits, and tenancy issues. Click www.tapsbc.ca or call 250.361.3521.
- Legal Services Society (LSS) BC: LSS provides free legal information. The publication called “Your Welfare Rights: A Guide to BC Employment and Assistance” has information on social assistance (including PPMB and PWD benefits and supplements). Go to the LSS website at www.legalaid.bc.ca and click “Our publications”. Then under, “I want to find a publication by subject,” click “Welfare”.
- Enquiry 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.
- Script 288: This Dial-A-Law script explains that if you apply for or receive monthly income or disability assistance, you have the right to a reconsideration, and then an appeal, of most decisions that deny, reduce, or end that assistance. The script includes a link to the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal (www.gov.bc.ca/eaat).
[updated October 2012]
Dial-A-Law© is a library of legal information available by:
- phone, as recorded scripts, and
- audio and text, on the CBA BC Branch website.
To access Dial-A-Law, call 604.687.4680 in the lower mainland or 1.800.565.5297 elsewhere in BC. Dial-A-Law is available online at www.dialalaw.org.
The Dial-A-Law library is prepared by lawyers and gives practical information on many areas of law in British Columbia. Dial-A-Law is funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia and sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch.
© Copyright 1983-2012 The Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Branch