Improvements to income assistance reconsiderations

Today, the ministry is able to respond within the required time limit nearly 100 per cent of the time

Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

VICTORIA – B.C. is improving the income and disability assistance reconsideration process, Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Don McRae announced recently.

A regulation change will benefit people who are initially found ineligible for assistance on their original application and have to go through what is called a reconsideration process.

Starting immediately, all payments for successful reconsiderations will begin no later than the date the decision was required by legislated time limits. Payments will be backdated for anyone who has to wait longer than the legislated time limits before receiving approval.

This change responds to advice from the B.C. ombudsperson.

“I appreciate the work the ombudsperson has done in looking at our reconsideration process. It has shown us an opportunity for the ministry to make small changes that can make a positive difference for individuals who receive income and disability assistance,” McRae said.

Reconsiderations are available so that applicants have a formal process to question ministry decisions. The legislated time limits for the ministry to respond are within 10 business days for most cases and up to 20 business days for more complex cases.

“The speed of reconsideration decisions is also something the ministry has worked successfully to improve over the last year,” McRae said. “In accepting the ombudsperson’s advice, compensation will also be provided to people who had to wait longer than our time limits, from June 2009 onward.”

The ministry will provide total compensation of close to $500,000 to 1,272 people. The individual payments range from $10 to $2,000 – with the average being about $300. These individuals do not need to apply. Payments will be made automatically within the next month and will not impact the amount anyone is currently receiving for assistance.

In 2009, government began centralizing its reconsideration process to increase efficiency and reduce administrative costs. At the same time, the economic downturn led to an extraordinary increase in applications. The result was a temporary backlog.

Today, the ministry is able to respond within the required time limit nearly 100 per cent of the time.

The ministry also will be reviewing its disability assistance application process to determine ways to improve the decision-making process from the time a person first applies for assistance.

 

B.C. is looking for opportunities to improve support and make the province a more progressive place for people with disabilities. To learn more and share your ideas, visit: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/