Disability Benefits | FAQs

This is the best explanation of what a PWD person can qualify for. I like to archive information like this so we have something to compare it to when the provincial government changes their policies. Click here for the source or learn more below.


Advocacy Access is the busiest program at DABC and the BC Disability Benefits Help Sheets we produce are our most downloaded publications.

On this page, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions about BC Disability Benefits, along with links to the Help Sheet that goes into each topic in more detail.

People with Disabilities Benefit

Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to employment (PPMB)

Health Supplements


Employment, Education and Training

Disability Benefits Rates

Registered Disability Savings Plan

People with Disabilities on Reserve

People with Disabilities Benefit


See Help Sheet 2, The Persons with Disabilities Application

Are there things I should know before applying for PWD?

Yes, please see the “Before you get started” section at the top of our Help Sheet 12, Income Assistance Application Process for People with Disabilities for important information on assets, income and other considerations. This Help Sheet also lays out the steps to follow to apply for PWD.

What do I do if I don’t have a doctor?

We know that finding a doctor can be difficult but you must have a doctor complete Section Two of the PWD application. Once you have found a doctor, it is a good idea to see him or her a few times before you ask to have the form completed. It is important that they know you.

Do I have to pay to have my doctor or assessor to fill out the application?

No, the provincial government pays doctors and assessors to do this. Health professionals should not charge you any extra fees.

Are there things I should know before applying for PWD?

Yes, please see the “Before you get started” section at the top of our Help Sheet 12 for important information on assets, income and other considerations. This Help Sheet also lays out the steps to follow to apply for PWD.

What do I do if I do not know any health professionals who can be my assessor?

The Ministry will accept only certain professionals as assessors on your PWD designation application. There is a list of accepted professionals in the application. Ask your doctor to complete the assessor section if you do not have another health professional who knows you.

Are children eligible for PWD ?

No. You have to be 18 years old to receive PWD benefits. You can begin the PWD application process up to 6 months before your 18th birthday. Is the PWD designation permanent?

Will the Ministry ask me to reapply for PWD in the future?

Although the PWD designation is not a permanent designation, the current MSDSI practice is not to ask people to reapply for PWD. In other words, you will not be asked to complete another application.

What other benefits am I eligible for if I received PWD?

See Help Sheet 3 for a checklist of all benefits from MSDSI and other organizations.


Denials and Appeals

See Help Sheet 5A, Appealing Denial of the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Benefit: The Reconsideration Request

What if I am turned down for PWD?

You have the right to appeal if you are turned down for PWD. You have 20 business days from the day you receive the letter telling you that your application has been rejected to give the Ministry your reconsideration request. You must get the reconsideration request form from a MSDSI office. We recommend that you phone your local MSDSI office as soon as you receive the PWD denial letter to ask for a reconsideration package.

What are the most common reasons a PWD application is denied?

Often PWD applications are turned down because:

  • your doctor did not make it clear that your condition is “severe.”
  • your doctor wrote that you are “independent” in many daily living activities and that you do not need any help to complete them.
  • your doctor has not provided enough information about your limitations.

It is a good idea to ask your doctor to write you a support letter addressing the key issues before you complete Section Three.

What should I do if my PWD Request for Reconsideration is denied?

If your application for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) status was turned down by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) and your Request for Reconsideration has been denied, you can appeal the Ministry’s decision. You can ask for an Appeal Tribunal to hear your case. — link to help 5B

Helpful tips

See Help Sheet 3, Checklist for the Persons with Disabilities (PWD Benefit)

Apply for a Bus Pass

One of the first things you should do once you have been approved for PWD is to apply for the Annual Bus Pass. Phone the Bus Pass Program at 1-866-866-0800 and ask for an application form to be mailed to you. When you receive it, you can pay the $45 fee at your local bank and the Bus Pass Program will mail you the pass.

Toll-Free Calling

You can call MSDSI free from anywhere in BC at 1-866-866-0800.


Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to employment (PPMB)

See Help Sheet 6, Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers (PPMB) to Employment

Who is the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to employment (PPMB) benefit for?

The PPMB benefit is for people who are unable to work because they have severe and multiple barriers to employment. This means that your medical condition must be severe enough that it prevents you from seeking, accepting, or continuing employment now or in the foreseeable future.

What will I receive if I am on PPMB?

  • You will receive up to $658 a month if you are a single person without dependants
  • You will not be expected to look for work
  • You will be able to keep up to $500 a month in earned income
  • You will be eligible for certain health supplements

How do I qualify for PPMB?

  • You must have been on income assistance for 12 out of the 15 months immediately • before you apply.
  • Your doctor must provide details about how your medical condition prevents you from seeking, accepting or continuing employment.
  • Your doctor must say that you have a medical condition that has lasted for one year and is likely to continue or reoccur frequently for at least two more years.

Please note that addictions of any kind do not count as a medical condition under the PPMB eligibility criteria.

How long does PPMB last?

If you are granted PPMB, the Ministry will usually ask you to re-apply in 2 years. If it is not clear how long your condition will last, you may be asked to reapply after only 1 year.

You will not be automatically granted PPMB when you reapply. The MSDSI can discontinue your PPMB benefits if they think you have become capable of work or training. Your doctor must complete a new Medical Report describing how your medical condition still restricts you in performing work activities.

Can I appeal denial of my PPMB Application?

The PPMB appeal process is similar to PWD. See Help sheet 11A for full details, Appealing denial of the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) Benefit: The Request for Reconsideration.

What’s the second level of appeal?

If your PPMB Request for Reconsideration is denied, you can request an Appeal Tribunal. See Help Sheet 11B , Appealing denial of the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) Benefit: The Appeal Tribunal

Why was my PPMB Request for Reconsideration denied?

Look carefully at the reasons that the MSDSI has turned down your original application and your Request for Reconsideration. Review the requirements you must meet to qualify for the PPMB benefit.


Health Supplements

See Help Sheet 7, Health Supplements for People with Disabilities

How do I know if I’m eligible for the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation health supplements?

You may be eligible for a range of health supplements from the MSDSI if any of the following describes your situation:

  • You are receiving the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit
  • You are a dependent of a person receiving PWD
  • You are a single person receiving the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to employment (PPMB)
  • You are living in a household where one or more adults receive PPMB
  • You live in a special care facility or if you have been admitted to hospital for extended care
  • You are the dependant of a person in special care

If you are denied health benefits, you have the right to appeal.

Do I qualify for the Monthly Nutritional Supplement (MNS)?

You may be eligible for a monthly nutritional supplement of up to $205 a month if you are receiving PWD–people receiving PPMB are not eligible. The nutritional supplement is divided into 2 parts for a total of $205 a month:

  1. Nutritional items: $165. This part of the benefit will only be provided if you need to supplement your regular diet. You cannot receive both this supplement and a diet supplement (e.g. high protein diet).
  2. Vitamin or mineral supplementation: $40.

See Help Sheet 4 on the MNS here.



See Help Sheet 8, Trusts for People Receiving the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Benefit

What is a Trust?

If you receive the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit, have disability status, or live in a special care facility, you may be allowed to set money aside in a trust and still receive PWD benefits.

A trust is set up by a legal document that has to follow strict guidelines. You will need to submit the trust document to the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI). As soon as it is drawn up, the Ministry’s legal advisors will tell you whether the trust fits its guidelines. This process can take a few weeks.

Why should I set up a trust?

You should consider setting up a trust if you are going to receive a lump sum of money that is over your asset limit. To be eligible for PWD benefits, you may only have a certain amount of assets. For example, if you are a single person with no children you cannot have more than $5,000. This is called an asset limit. PWD recipients who are over their asset limit:

  • must go off monthly benefits until they are within their asset limit, or
  • may put the money into an exempt asset such as a trust, use it for certain things related to their disability, and still receive monthly benefits.

What can I use trust money for?

There are restrictions on what you can use your trust money for without affecting your monthly disability benefits. If there is any doubt about what category a planned expense falls into, you can check with the Ministry (or an advocate) before you draw money from the trust. To maintain your disability benefits, you may only spend trust money on the following:

  • Caregiver services
  • Education or training
  • Home renovations necessary because of your disability
  • Home maintenance repairs
  • Medical aids
  • Independent living: up to $8,000.00 per year for any other good or service that will help you live more independently.


Employment, Education and Training

See Help Sheet 9, Employment Education and Training for People with Disabilities

If I’m receiving PWD or PPMB, do I need to have an employment plan with MSDSI?

The rules are different for people with disabilities. If you receive the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) benefit, you will not have to sign an employment plan. The MSDSI can excuse other people from signing employment plans, for example, single parents with disabled children and people receiving the Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) benefit.

Under current Ministry policy, people receiving PWD can choose to sign an employment plan on a voluntary basis. This is called a Voluntary Participation Plan. Before you volunteer to sign an employment plan, we recommend that you talk with an Employment and Assistance Worker (EAW) about what will happen if you are unable to complete the activities in the plan. If you do have an employment plan, you may be eligible to receive incentive supplements.

What are earnings exemptions?

An earnings exemption is the amount of money that you can earn from working without your benefits being reduced.

Annual Earnings Exemption (AEE):

In 2015, the Ministry made a change for everyone receiving PWD benefits: an annual earnings exemption replaced the monthly earnings exemption. This means that now a large yearly earnings exemption will be applied for a whole calendar year, rather than a smaller monthly exemption applied on a month-to-month basis. The annual earnings exemption is as follows:

  • one person on PWD: $9,600 per year
  • two adults (one PWD): $12,000 per year
  • two adults (both PWD): $19,200 per year

Monthly Earnings Exemptions:

For people not receiving PWD, the following monthly earnings exemptions apply:

  • People on PPMB have an earnings exemption of $500 per month. If two people live together as a couple, and one or both of them is on PPMB, the earnings exemption for both of them is $500 a month (not $500 per person).
  • If you have a child with a disability whose care requires you to stay home full-time, you are allowed an earnings exemption of $300 per month.
  • For people on basic income assistance, not PWD or PPMB, the earning exemption is $200 per month.

You must report all monthly income to MSDSI, on your monthly report or cheque stub by the 5th day of the following month. The Ministry will also expect you to submit proof of income, such as a pay record or copy of a pay cheque. The Ministry now provides the option of reporting income and getting updates of earnings exemption usage on a My Self Serve Account. For more information about My Self Serve, go to www.myselfserve.gov.bc.ca. The Self-Employment Program The Self-Employment Program (SEP) provides assessm


Disability Benefits Rates

See Help Sheet 13, Rate Amounts for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) and Persons with Persistent and Multiple Barriers to Employment (PPMB) Benefits

How much income assistance will I receive on PWD or PPMB?

Household Size and Type Support Shelter Maximum Benefits Total
Single Person $531.42 $375.00 $906.42
Couple: One person on PWD $700.56 $570.00 $1,270.56
Couple: Both people on PWD $949.06 $570.00 $1,519.06
Two-parent family: One child, one person on PWD 794.45 $660.00 $1,454.56
Two-parent family: One child, both people on PWD $1,043.06 $660.00 $1,703.06
One-parent family: One child $672.08 $570.00 $1,242.08
Single Person $282.92 $375.00 $ 657.92
Couple: One person on PPMB $396.22 $570.00 $ 966.22
Couple: Both people on PPMB $452.06 $570.00 $1,022.06
Two-parent family: One child, one person on PPMB $490.06 $660.00 $1,150.06
Two-parent family: One child, both people on PPMB $546.06 $660.00 $1,206.06
One-parent family: One child $423.58 $570.00 $ 993.58

What if I am paying room and board for my accommodation?

The Ministry will pay you the same amount you pay for your room and board, plus an additional $60 per month. If you have dependent children, you will receive $40 per child, up to the combined shelter and support maximum for your family size (please see the table in this Help Sheet). If you are receiving room and board from a parent or a child, the MSDSI will only give you your support maximum.

Why do some people with the same family size and rent receive more or less benefits than me?

Different factors can change the amount of benefits a person receives. These include supplements, like a diet allowance, that will increase the amount of a person’s cheque, and repayment agreements to the Ministry which will reduce the amount of money a person receives. You have the right to ask the Ministry to explain how your benefit rate has been calculated.

If I live in a housing Co-op can I include insurance payments in my shelter costs?

Yes, all Co-op members are homeowners and must have insurance. If you are living in a Co-op and are not receiving the shelter maximum, talk to the Ministry about your monthly insurance premiums.

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

See Help Sheet 14, Registered Disability Savings Plan and the Disability Tax Credit

See all our free RDSP resources here

What is the RDSP?

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is a savings plan that has been introduced by the federal government. The RDSP is designed to help people with disabilities and their families save money for their long-term financial security.

With an RDSP you can:

  • Make up to a maximum of $200,000 in contributions. The tax on the money is deferred which means you do not pay tax on your savings while it is in the savings account. Contributions cannot be made to the RDSP after you turn 60 years old.
  • Qualify for the Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) and get up to $3,500 annually. The CDSG is an income-tested grant from the federal government. Here’s how it works: if your family income is under $89,401, you may receive $1,500 on the first $500 of contributions and $2,000 on the next $1,000 contributions. You can receive a lifetime maximum of $70,000 from this grant until you turn 50.
  • Qualify for the income-tested federal Canada Disability Savings Bond (CDSB). This is an annual amount of $1,000 up to a lifetime maximum of $20,000 that you may receive if your family income is below $26,021. If your family income is between $26,021-$44,701 the grant may be pro-rated. Again, you cannot receive this after you are 50 years of age. No contribution is required to receive the CDSB.

If I have an RDSP, aren’t my disability benefits affected?

Your provincial disability or income assistance benefits will not be stopped or reduced because of any RDSP savings or withdrawals. This is because the Minister of Housing and Social Development has introduced regulations that exempt RDSP assets and income from being counted as unearned income.

Who is eligible for an RDSP?

To benefit from a RDSP you must:

  • Be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) and maintain this eligibility
  • Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Be living in Canada when the RDSP is opened
  • Be up-to-date with filing your income tax returns
  • Be under 50 if you want to claim the CDSG and CDSB (grant and bond)
  • Not make any withdrawals for at least 10 years if you want to keep all of the federal grants and/or bonds that you have received.


People with Disabilities on Reserve

See Help Sheet 15, People with Disabilities on Reserve: The PWD Designation

I’m a First Nations person with a disability. Can I apply for PWD?

The federal government, and each province and territory, have their own definition of a person with disabilities and their own disability benefits programs. In British Columbia, the disability assistance program is often called “PWD benefits” both on and off reserve. The important difference is that, on reserve, PWD is designated by the First Nations Social Development Society (FNSDS) on behalf of INAC and, off reserve, PWD is administered by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation.

Help Sheet 15 will help you complete the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) disability designation application for the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit.



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