The British Columbia government recently announced significant changes coming to disability assistance in the province.
Beginning Dec. 1, 2015, people in BC receiving disability assistance will be able to hold substantially more assets without impacting their eligibility for assistance. Individuals designated Persons with Disabilities (PWD) will soon be able to hold $100,000 in assets, and a couple where both partners have PWD designation will be able to hold $200,000 in assets. This is a significant increase from the current limits of $5,000 and $10,000, respectively. The higher asset limit means that money received through inheritance would not have to be put aside in a trust.
As well, people with disabilities will be able to receive cash gifts without affecting their eligibility for assistance. Under the current regime, individuals receiving assistance can only receive one-time gifts without their eligibility being affected. There will also no longer be an annual limit on payments people receiving assistance can receive from trusts. Currently, there is an $8,000 annual cap on trust payments for activities that promote independence.
Almost 96,000 people in BC are designated as PWD and receive assistance from the provincial government. These changes will give them greater independence and choice in enhancing their financial security, and also give their families, friends, and community groups an opportunity to provide additional support without impacting eligibility. The new policies are part of Accessibility 2024 – BC’s 10-year action plan to increase accessibility and remove barriers, with the goal of making BC the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities.