Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is government replacing the monthly earnings exemption with the annual earnings exemption (AEE)?

The AEE is a more flexible way of calculating earnings exemptions that will help individuals receiving disability assistance who are able to work to take advantage of employment opportunities and to keep more of their earnings.

How does the AEE work?

The AEE allows you to keep up to the following amount of earned income each year:

  • $9,600 for a single individual who has the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation,
  • $12,000 for families with two adults, only one of which has the PWD designation, and
  • $19,200 for families where both adults have the PWD designation.

If there is a change in family circumstances during the exemption year, the amount of the family unit’s AEE limit will be adjusted based on the circumstances of that change.

Under the AEE, you are able to earn up to your AEE limit during the calendar year, with no monthly maximums, without affecting your monthly disability benefits.

For example, if a single individual with the PWD designation sometimes earns more than $800 per month (the previous monthly maximum), they will be able to keep all that money up to a maximum total of $9,600 for the calendar year.

This may be particularly helpful if your ability to earn fluctuates during the year; for example, due to a medical condition - exceeding the previous monthly maximum some months yet earning little or nothing in other months.

If your AEE limit is reached, any additional earnings you receive will be deducted dollar for dollar from your disability assistance.

You may need to track your income over the course of the year, particularly if you expect to earn over the AEE limit before the end of the calendar year.

I do not have any earnings; does the change to AEE affect me?

For individuals receiving disability assistance that do not have earned income, there will be no impact.

What is the benefit of the AEE?

Compared with a monthly earnings exemption, the AEE provides more flexibility for people receiving disability assistance who can only work occasionally during the year. It allows them to keep more of the money they earn when they are able to work.

For example, if your income fluctuates and you sometimes earn more than $800 in a month, you will be able to keep all of that money up to a maximum total of $9,600 for the year. There is no monthly maximum.

The AEE supports employment, which can be a particular challenge for individuals with disabilities – especially those with episodic conditions who are more likely to work only part of the year.

The AEE treats individuals who can earn income in only one or two months equally to those who are able to earn steadily over the entire year.

When did the AEE start?

The AEE has been phased-in gradually.In 2013 and 2014, individuals most likely to benefit from an annual earnings exemption were notified they could register to participate in the first phase.

Starting in 2015, the AEE was expanded to all individuals receiving disability assistance. For 2015, the exemption is based on earned income received in the calendar year, from January 1 to December 31, 2015. Due to the income reporting process, this timeframe impacts benefit months from March 2015 to February 2016. This is how it works:

  • You report the amount of earned income you received in January to the ministry on a monthly report (stub) that must be submitted by February 5.
  • This information is processed by the ministry and your earnings are applied to your March assistance cheque (which you receive at the end of February).

What happens if I reach my AEE limit?

If your AEE limit is reached, any additional earnings you receive will be deducted dollar for dollar from your disability assistance.

If your monthly earnings continue to be over disability assistance rates, you will not receive a disability assistance cheque but you may be eligible for Medical Services Only (MSO) coverage.

More information on MSO coverage can be found on the Online Resource.

If I didn’t reach my AEE limit for the exemption year, can I add the leftover amount to my AEE limit for the following calendar year?

No, each calendar year is a new exemption year. Any remaining exemption from the previous year does not carry over into the new exemption year.

Do I need to register for the AEE?

Starting in 2015, individuals receiving disability assistance will automatically be set up with the AEE – there is no registration.

Under the AEE, what will I need to do during the year?

You must:

  • Submit a Monthly Report (stub) before the 5th of each month, declaring earned income received each month (even if the amount of your earned income does not change from month to month) and;
  • Advise the ministry of any changes in circumstances (if you join with or separate from a spouse) because the amount of your earnings exemption limit may change.

If you have income or changes to report to the ministry, registered users can complete a Monthly Report (stub) online through My Self Serve, you can print a Monthly Report (stub) PDF from the ministry’s website, or you can phone or visit an office to obtain Monthly Reports (stubs).

What type of income can be exempted?

Earnings exemptions apply to earned income. For example: money you receive from work or from someone who pays you rent or room and board.

Income received as Workers Compensation Board (WCB) Temporary Wage Loss Replacement Payments can also be considered under this exemption. These are payments issued under Sections 29 and 30 of the Workers Compensation Act.

How will I keep track of my AEE limit?

It is important for you to keep track of your earnings and the remaining amount of your AEE limit. Keep copies of your monthly paystubs and receipts from rental or room and board income with an Annual Earnings Exemption Income Tracking Sheet PDF

By becoming a registered My Self Serve user, you can obtain 24/7 access to your disability assistance information, including the amount remaining on your AEE limit.

What is the difference between the previous monthly earnings exemption and the new annual earnings exemption?

I am/we are a Monthly Amount New Annual Limit
Single person with the PWD designation $800 $9,600
Couple, and one of us has the PWD designation $1,000 $12,000
Couple, and both of us have the PWD designation $1,600 $19,200
My/our earnings How AEE works for me When do I complete a Monthly Report (stub)?

I/we have no earnings throughout the calendar year.

No change.

You must complete a stub if required for other reasons (other income, or change in circumstance).

I/we have earnings, but never more than the monthly amount in any one month.

No change.

You must complete a stub if you have any earned income to report (even if it is the same amount of earned income as last month).

You must also complete a stub if it is required for other reasons (i.e., other income or a change in circumstance).

I/we have earnings, sometimes more than the monthly amount, but never more than the annual limit.

The AEE will allow you to keep all of your earnings.

I/we expect to earn more than the annual limit in a calendar year.

The AEE will allow you to keep more of your earnings during the first part of the year (until you reach your AEE limit).

If you continue to earn income after reaching your AEE limit, your assistance will be reduced. You may need to budget your money over the course of the year.

If you have any additional questions, please call 1 866-866-0800.