Annual Earning Exemption for Employees Receiving Disability Assistance
Employees receiving disability assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction can use an annual earnings exemption (AEE) to keep more of the money they earn from work.
Single people can earn up to $15,000 in a calendar year while still receiving their full disability assistance benefits.
Earnings exemption limits were increased effective January 1, 2021.
This resource was last updated early 2022.
What is the Annual Earning Exemption?
BC has an annual earnings exemption (AEE) for people who are receiving disability assistance.
- A single person with the PWD designation can earn up to $15,000 in employment income after deductions from January 1 to December 31 each year without it reducing their monthly assistance payment.
- The ministry deducts income above the annual limit from assistance payments.
- People can earn money over the course of the year on a casual, weekly, seasonal or on-call basis.
- The AEE places no restrictions to how a work schedule is structured.
Please note: The annual earnings exemption varies with household size and composition:
- $15,000 for a single person with the PWD designation.
- $18,000 for a family with two adults with only one person having the PWD designation.
- $30,000 for a family where both adults have the PWD designation.
Allowable deductions from earned income are any amount deducted at source for:
- income tax, employment insurance, medical insurance, Canada Pension Plan, superannuation, company pension plan and union dues.
How does AEE work?
The following examples are for a single person.
If your employee earns $15,000 or LESS in the calendar year:
- There is no effect on their monthly disability assistance payments.
- There is no carry-over of exemption from year to year.
If your employee earns MORE than $15,000 in the calendar year:
- The ministry will reduce additional income from their disability assistance payments dollar for dollar.
- Even if they earn over their exemption limit, they will continue to receive their transportation support allowance and medical benefits.
There is a delay between the month someone earns income and the month their disability assistance is reduced. For example, if they reach the $15,000 limit in May, they will not see a change to their disability assistance payment until July.
This may cause some anxiety on the part of your employee if they have not been properly tracking their earnings.
Income earned in May, is reported in June, and deducted from the assistance payment issued at the end of June, meant to cover expenses for July.
What are my responsibilities as the employer?
Employers are not responsible for reporting income for their employees with disabilities, or for monitoring their employee’s earnings in regards to the AEE limit.
You may wish to support your employees in the following ways:
- Talk with your employee about their employment goals as related to AEE. Understanding employment goals will be very useful when scheduling work hours.
- Employees with disabilities will not be financially worse off from working beyond their AEE limit. The ministry will top them up to the maximum disability assistance rate.
- Some employees will not want to limit their earnings and may want to earn above the AEE limit.
- If your employee has any questions about AEE, please direct them to call the ministry at 1-866-866-0800 or visit the official website.
What are the responsibilities of the employee?
Each month that an employee receives pay, they are required to report their income (after deductions) to the ministry. Income can be reported online using My Self Serve, by mail, or in-person at a ministry office or ServiceBC office in the community.
More information on how to complete a monthly report is available online.
An employee should keep track of income earned through the year to know how much exemption has been used, and when their disability assistance may be reduced.
This worksheet can help individuals track their income and AEE limit.
- People can also get an update of their exemption amount by checking their My Self Serve account or by phoning the ministry.
- The ministry will also send a letter when someone is getting close to their AEE limit.