Person With Disabilities Assistance

Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation provides financial assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to people who need help completing daily living activities. Eligibility is based on your income, assets, residency, family status, and other factors.

 

What do you get?

  • Up to $1,183 a month if you are a single person without dependents

  • You may receive more each month if you have dependents 

  • A monthly bus pass or a $52 transportation supplement added to your monthly cheque

  • You will be eligible for a range of other supplements

PWD eligibility

To be eligible for PWD:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age

  • Your disability must be severe and be expected to last for at least 2 years

  • Your disability must directly and significantly restrict your ability to perform daily living activities 

  • Because of your disability, you need significant help from another person, assistive device, or assistance animal

  • NOTE If you are already registered with and receive benefits from Canada Pension Plan Disability, Pharmacare Plan P, Community Living BC, or the At Home Program, you can access a much easier PWD application process. Please let the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction know if you are enrolled in one of these programs. If you are not registered with one of these programs, you will be required to complete a full PWD application. This is the process described below.

Applying for PWD

The designation application form for PWD has three sections that are to be completed in order:

Section One

A. Personal Information

  • Complete this part by filling out each box with your name, date of birth, address etc. If you do not have a phone, put “no phone”.

B. Disabling Condition (your disability)

This section is optional but encouraged. You should consult an advocate if you are not sure what to write.

Please describe your disability

  • It is important that you clearly list and explain all your disabilities. The more information you include, the better.

How does your disability affect your life and your ability to take care of yourself?

Think about how your disability makes it difficult to do the things you need to do on a regular basis, whether that means relying on assistive devices or support workers, taking longer to complete activities than most people do, or not being able to do them at all. The Ministry lists the following as daily living activities:

  • Performing personal hygiene and self-care 

  • Preparing meals

  • Taking medication

  • Keeping the home clean

  • Shopping for personal needs

  • Moving about indoors and outdoors

  • Using public or personal transportation facilities 

  • Managing personal finances

  • Making decisions about personal care, activities, or finances

  • Relating to, communicating with, or interacting with others effectively

C. Declaration and Notification

  • When you have completed Section One remember to sign your name and to date your form. If someone is unable to sign the PWD designation application due to mental incapability, it may be signed by a guardian or someone with legal authority.

Section Two

Section Two is to be completed by your doctor or nurse practitioner. Make an appointment with your doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss the form. The more info they have about you, the better.

Section Three

Section Three is to be completed by an assessor. An assessor must be a registered professional and can be any of the following:

  • Medical doctor (doctors can fill out Sections Two and Three)

  • Registered psychologist

  • Registered nurse

  • Registered psychiatric nurse

  • Nurse practitioner (nurse practitioners can complete Section Two and Three)

  • Chiropractor

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Social worker

When you see your assessor you should bring your PWD designation application form with Section One and Section Two completed.

Submitting your Application

When your PWD application is completed, look at the checklist on the form. If you want the Health Assistance Branch to confirm it has received your application, put your name and address in the space provided under the client checklist. When you are sure that everything is complete, mail your application by putting it in the envelope included with the form. 

Wait times to hear back can be as long as 6 months, but are more often 2-4 months.

Frequently asked questions

Q How do I get the official PWD designation application form?

A If you already receive income assistance, visit or call the ministry at 1-866-866-0800 to ask for a PWD application. If you are not yet receiving income assistance, you must complete the online application.

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

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

Q Are children eligible for PWD?

A No. You have to be 18 to receive PWD benefits. You can begin the PWD application process up to six months before your 18th birthday. If your child is underage, with a “severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions”, they may be eligible for the Child Disability Benefit.

Q How long does it take for the Ministry to make a decision regarding my PWD application?

A Time varies. It can take up to 6 months, but more commonly between 2 to 4 months.

Q What happens if my application is denied?

A If your application is denied, you may reapply or appeal the Ministry’s decision. If you choose to appeal the decision, you have only 20 business days from the time that you are informed of your denial to submit your appeal package.

You will need to contact the Ministry and let them know that you disagree with their decision and

are asking for a “Request for Reconsideration” package appeal package. See below for a guide on appealing a denied application. 

Q Will my PWD benefit decrease if I earn extra income?

PWD recipients are allowed to earn money while having the designation. As of January 2021, a single person can earn up to $15,000 a year without it affecting their disability benefit.

The Annual Earnings Exemption (AEE) is the Ministry calculation of the PWD recipient earnings on an annual basis. This means that if you are working, some of the income you are receiving will not affect your disability assistance. AEE applies on earnings you receive from January 1 to December 31 and does not carry over to the next year.

Q What happens if I reach the Annual Earnings Exemption limit?

A When you reach 75% of your AEE, you will receive a letter from the Ministry informing you of what will happen if you earn more than what your AEE allows. Anything you earn over the AEE limit will be deducted dollar for dollar from your PWD cheque.

Q What counts as earned income?

Earned income is income that is classified as any of the following

  • Any money received for working

  • Pension plan contributions that are refunded due to insufficient contributions

  • Money received from providing room and board at your residence

  • Money received from renting rooms at your residence

Unearned income is any income that is not earned income. Some types of unearned income include

  • Employment Insurance (EI)

  • Any type or class of Canada Pension Plan benefits (CPP, CPP-D, CPP-E)

  • Old Age Security and related benefits (OAS, GIS allowance)

  • Tax refund

  • Workers’ compensation benefits and disability payments or pensions

  • A trust or inheritance

  • Maintenance under a court order, separation agreement, or other agreement

  • Education or training allowances, grants, loans, bursaries, or scholarships

A What supplements can I get if I receive PWD?

Q There are many possible supplements. Here is a list of some.

Q Is the PWD designation permanent? Will I need to reapply? 

Although the PWD designation is not a permanent designation, the current practice is not to ask people to re-apply for PWD, meaning you will not need to complete another 28-page application.

More resources

General Funding Page