previously known as
Province of British Columbia
Ministry of Social Services
Last Update: 09.01.1997
What are Disability Benefits?
They are a form of income assistance for people with disabilities who cannot support themselves.
Depending on their income, assets and needs, recipients may get a monthly food and shelter allowance;
medical benefits including equipment, supplies and transportation; and other benefits like homemaker
services and low-cost bus passes.
Who is eligible?
Anyone with a disability who:
- is 18 years or older;
- lives in British Columbia;
- qualifies for income assistance (welfare);
- has a severe mental or physical disability, confirmed by their physician, which:
- is likely to continue for two years, or
- will continue for one year and is likely to recur; and
- as a direct result of this disability:
- needs a lot of help to do everyday things like bathing, housework or grocery shopping in a reasonable
amount of time, or
- must spend extra money every month on transportation, special diet, medical supplies or some other need.
How does the new Disability Benefits program differ from the old Handicapped Benefits program?
There are a number of changes, including:
- ELIGIBILITY - In the past, applicants had to have a lifelong disability and be permanently unemployable.
These requirements no longer exist.
- APPLICATION PROCESS - In the past, applicants had to visit a ministry office and meet with a worker.
This is no longer necessary.
- ASSESSMENT - In the past, the only person who was asked to provide information about the
applicant's disability was their physician. Today, the applicant has more opportunity
to describe their condition. Assessors, too, play an important role in explaining how the
condition affects the applicant's daily life. An assessor is someone who has a professional
relationship with the applicant and is knowledgeable about their disability and its impact.
These changes have been made in response to concerns raised by community groups representing people with disabilities.
Will these changes affect people who have been receiving Handicapped Benefits?
No. Only new applicants are affected. People who received benefits in the past will continue to do so as long as they meet
the requirements for eligibility.
Who completes the form?
The form has three parts. Each one is filled in by a different person.
- PartA asks for general information about the applicant and their disability. It is completed by the
applicant or someone chosen by the applicant.
- Part B is completed by an assessor who has a professional relationship with the applicant and is
familiar with their condition. The assessor could be a nurse. Other examples are a social worker,
physiotherapist or teacher.
- In Part C the applicant's physician diagnoses the disability and indicates how long it will last.
The applicant mails the completed form to the ministry for review, a process that takes about six to eight weeks.
The ministry then tells the applicant in writing whether they have been given handicapped status. Anyone who is turned down
has the right to appeal.
Can the handicapped designation be cancelled?
Yes, in cases of fraud or abuse. Otherwise, the designation is for life and is not subject to review.
Can benefits change?
Entitlement to benefits is reviewed regularly, and may change depending on circumstances. For example, the food and
shelter allowance may be reduced or stopped altogether if the recipient gets a job.
Where can I get an application form?
You can pick one up from your nearest Ministry of Social Services office. Look for the address in the provincial government
blue pages of the phone book under Social Services, Ministry of.
Forms are also available from many community outlets.
Or you can wrlte to:
Health Services Division
Ministry of Social Services
Victoria, BC V8V lX4
Need more information?
Please phone your local ministry office, or call this toll-free number: