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Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the monthly earnings exemption and the annualized earnings exemption (AEE)?

Monthly Earnings Exemption:

  • The monthly earnings exemption allows you to keep up to the following amount of earned income each month:
    • Single individual with PWD designation or a family with one adult who has the PWD designation—$800.
    • Couple or family with two adults where only one has the PWD designation—$1,000.
    • Couple or family with two adults where both have the PWD designation—$1,600.
  • Earned income over these monthly limits is deducted from your disability assistance cheque.

Annualized Earnings Exemption (AEE):

  • The AEE allows you to keep up to the following amount of earned income each year:
    • Single individual with PWD designation or a family with one adult who has the PWD designation—$9,600.
    • Couple or family with two adults where only one has the PWD designation—$12,000.
    • Couple or family with two adults where both adults have the PWD designation—$19,200.
  • These amounts are equivalent to 12 times the monthly exemption limit for the calendar year. If there is a change in family circumstances during the exemption year, then 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 maximum) without affecting your monthly disability benefits.
    • For example, if a single individual with the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) designation sometimes earns more than $800 per month (the previous monthly maximum), then 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), which causes you to exceed the monthly exemption limit some months and earn little or nothing in other months.
  • As with the monthly exemption, 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 budget your money over the course of the year, particularly if you expect to earn over the AEE limit before the end of the calendar year.

What is the benefit of the AEE?

  • 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, then 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 people 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 is being phased-in gradually.
  • In 2013, individuals most likely to benefit from an annualized earnings exemption were invited to participate in the first phase.
  • In 2014, the first phase was expanded and extended for another year.
  • In 2015, the AEE will be 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?

  • As with the monthly exemption, if your AEE 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 the 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 ministry’s 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.

Why was I selected for the AEE in 2013 and/or 2014?

  • In the first phase, the ministry invited those people most likely to benefit from AEE (based on their earnings from the past year) to participate in the new policy. That means that at the time, you (or someone in your family):
    • had the PWD designation for at least the past 12 months
    • received disability assistance in at least the past two consecutive months
    • had earnings over the monthly earnings exemption limit in at least one of the past 12 months ($500 a month for a single individual with a PWD designation or $750 a month for a couple who both have PWD designations)
  • Based on this, you would have received a notification letter for the applicable exemption year and would have had an opportunity to notify the ministry if you wanted to choose AEE for that year.

How do I register for the AEE for 2015?

  • No registration is required. In 2015, the AEE will be expanded to all individuals receiving disability assistance.

What if I would rather have a monthly earnings exemption?

  • In 2013 and 2014, choosing the AEE was optional.
  • In 2015, there will no longer be a monthly exemption and all individuals receiving disability assistance will have an annual exemption.

Why wasn’t the AEE open to everyone who receives disability assistance right away?

  • Since British Columbia is one of the first places in Canada to offer the AEE, and introducing a new exemption option is complicated, AEE was introduced in phases.
  • This phased approach allowed the ministry to monitor the policy and make necessary changes before opening it up to all individuals on disability assistance.
  • The ministry consulted with a number of disability groups and they were supportive of our phased approach.

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

  • You must:
    • Submit your Monthly Report (cheque stub) before the fifth of each month, declaring earned income received each month (even if the amount of your earned income does not change from month to month).
    • Advise the ministry of any changes in circumstances (i.e., 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) through My Self Serve. You can print a monthly report (stub) from the ministry’s website at www.sdsi.gov.bc.ca/forms/pdf/HR0081.pdf, 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.
  • 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. You can also use My Self Serve to complete a Monthly Report. For more information on My Self Serve, go to https://myselfserve.gov.bc.ca/.

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

Below are two examples showing the difference between a monthly earnings exemption and the AEE

Example 1:

Susan receives $906.42 per month on Disability Assistance (DA) and earns $1,200 each month at her job. With the monthly exemption, she receives a total of $1,706.42 each month. Susan keeps her full pay cheque and her DA cheque is $506.42 (a reduction of $400).

With the annual exemption, Susan would keep her full pay cheque each month for eight months and remain eligible for full DA until September when she reaches her $9,600 AEE limit. From October to December she would continue to keep her full pay cheque but she would not be eligible for a DA cheque.

Here’s a chart that breaks down Susan’s earnings for the earnings exemption and the AEE:

Monthly Earnings Exemption

Month Earnings Earned Income that was exempt Earned Income that was Deducted from DA Eligibility DA Received Total funds received from earnings plus DA
Jan $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Feb $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Mar $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Apr $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
May $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Jun $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Jul $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Aug $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Sep $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Oct $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Nov $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Dec $1,200.00 $800.00 $400.00 $506.42 $1,706.42
Annual Totals $14,400.00 $9,600.00 $4,800.00 $6,077.04 $20,477.04

Annualized Earnings Exemption

Month Earnings Earned Income that was exempt Earned Income that was Deducted from DA Eligibility DA Received Total funds received from earnings plus DA
Jan $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Feb $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Mar $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Apr $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
May $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Jun $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Jul $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Aug $1,200.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,106.42
Sep $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00
Oct $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00
Nov $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00
Dec $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00 $0.00 $1,200.00
Annual Totals $14,400.00 $9,600.00 $4,800.00 $7,251.36 $21,651.36

Example 2:

John receives $906.42 on Disability Assistance (DA) and is only able to work a few months of the year due to health problems. John starts work and declares $1,250 earnings for May.

  • Under the monthly exemption, he receives a total of $1,706.42. John keeps his full pay cheque and his DA cheque is $456.42 (a reduction of $450).
  • Under the annual exemption, he would receive a total of $2,156.42. John would keep his full $1,250 pay cheque and $906.42 DA for that month. His AEE limit is reduced from $9,600 to $8,350.

John’s work increases for June to August and he makes $2,500 each month.

  • Under the monthly exemption, he would stop receiving DA due to his increased monthly income. $800 of John’s income would be exempted but the remaining $1,700 is still more than his DA rate. In each of these months, John’s receives $2,500 from working and $0 from DA.
  • Under the annual exemption, John would receive $3,406.42 each month. He keeps his full $2,500 paycheque and $906.42 from DA. He remains eligible for full DA because he has not reached his $9,600 AEE limit for the year. His AEE balance remaining is $850.

John is unable to work from September to November due to health problems.

  • Under the monthly exemption, John receives $0 from working and $906.42 DA each month.
  • Under the annual exemption, John would receive $0 from working and $906.42 DA each month.

John returns to work in December and makes $2,500.

  • Under the monthly exemption, John receives $2,500 from working and $0 from DA.
  • Under the annual exemption, John would receive $2,500 from working and $0 from DA because he has used up his full AEE limit for the year.

Here is a chart that breaks down John’s earnings for the earnings exemption and the AEE:

Monthly Earnings Exemption

Month Earnings Earned Income that was exempt Earned Income that was Deducted from DA Eligibility DA Received Total funds received from earnings plus DA
Jan $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
Feb $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
Mar $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
Apr $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
May $1,250.00 $800.00 $450.00 $456.42 $1,706.42
Jun $2,500.00 $800.00 $1,700.00 $0.00 $2,500.00
Jul $2,500.00 $800.00 $1,700.00 $0.00 $2,500.00
Aug $2,500.00 $800.00 $1,700.00 $0.00 $2,500.00
Sep $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
Oct $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
Nov $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42
Dec $2,500.00 $800.00 $1,700.00 $0.00 $2,500.00
Annual Totals $11,250.00 $4,000.00 $7,250.00 $6,801.36 $18,507.78

Annualized Earnings Exemption

Month Earnings Earned Income that was exempt Earned Income that was Deducted from DA Eligibility DA Received Total funds received from earnings plus DA Remaining AEE
Jan $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $9,600.00
Feb $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $9,600.00
Mar $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $9,600.00
Apr $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $9,600.00
May $1,250.00 $1,250.00 $0.00 $906.42 $2,156.42 $8,350.00
Jun $2,500.00 $2,500.00 $0.00 $906.42 $3,406.42 $5,850.00
Jul $2,500.00 $2,500.00 $0.00 $906.42 $3,406.42 $3,350.00
Aug $2,500.00 $2,500.00 $0.00 $906.42 $3,406.42 $850.00
Sep $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $850.00
Oct $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $850.00
Nov $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $906.42 $906.42 $850.00
Dec $2,500.00 $850.00 $1,650.00 $0.00 $2,500.00 $0.00
Annual Totals $11,250.00 $9,600.00 $1,650.00 $9,970.62 $21,651.36 $0.00