Ministry arranges for disability benefits

Authority Ministry of Social Development

Jason was to be released from the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre (VIRCC) in a week and wanted to get his disability benefits arranged before his release as he suffered from a chronic disease and needed his medical benefits to be in place on his release.

Jason had called the Employment and Assistance Worker (EAW) at the ministry and explained that he did not need costs for shelter as he had arranged to stay with a female friend when he was released, but he did need support and medical benefits. The EAW had told him that he and his female friend would have to apply as a couple as they would be living in a marriage-like relationship. Jason felt this was unreasonable as he was staying with his friend temporarily and did not know if she would be willing to apply for benefits with him or support him in this way. Jason’s main worry was that his medical benefits would be interrupted.

We investigated to determine if the ministry’s process in responding to Jason was reasonable. We found that before he was incarcerated, Jason and his former wife were on the same file for disability benefits. While he was at VIRCC he separated from his wife and was removed from the benefits file. It appeared that only his ex-wife remained on the file and the EAW overlooked this fact as his past file with the ministry was under his ex-wife’s name, not his.

We asked for the evidence relied on by the ministry in determining that Jason and his friend would be in a common-law relationship. When the ministry acknowledged there was no such evidence, we suggested to the ministry that it appeared premature to draw conclusions about the nature of Jason’s living arrangements given that he and his friend had not yet lived together. The ministry agreed and accepted his application for disability benefits so there would be no disruption in his medical benefits. We considered Jason’s complaint settled and closed our file.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2010
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast