AISH

AISH is very important to people with disabilities.For many people, it is what prevents them from being homeless without food, medications or a way to get around their community. When the government talkws about reducing the amount of AISH money or changing the rules to make it harder for people to get AISH, people with disabilities worry. They do not just worry about losing AISH, but they worry about what other things they may lose, like the services and supports they get through PDD or Home Care or Aids to Daily Living. This worry increases their need for mental health support. Their ability to focus on reaching goals is lost. In other words, it has a negative effect on people even if there are no changes to AISH in the end. 
 
Here is a video of an NDP press conference in which two people who get AISH speak up. Slide the timeline forward to get past the "please wait" message at the start of the recording:
 
We think it is important for people in Alberta, including those in government, to understand how AISH works and why it is important to people with disabilities. Here are some myths about AISH and how they are wrong:
 
Myth #1: It is easy to get AISH so people apply even if they do not need it.
 
The truth is that it is hard to get on AISH. The application form for the individual is 11 pages of small print. The step-by-step guide for filling out the form is 36 pages long. You must also have a form from a doctor that gives your medical details. The form the doctor completes is 9 pages long. The step-by-step guide to help the doctor fill out the form is 18 pages long. The guide to the AISH program is another 33 pages and tells you the rules and what is covered. In addition to the application, there is other paperwork you need to give the government to support your application. Sometimes you need to go for additional testing by professionals, like a psychology, which may cost you money. This testing may take as many as 18 hours (or more). That does not include travel time and overnight stays in a large city. You need to prove that you do not have too many assets (cash, investments, property and vehicles). If your disability is life-long, you probably have very little savings and no property. People who became disabled later in life may have to sell assets or spend them on living expenses before they can get AISH. You need to provide documents for all income that you rece3ive. If you are married, the AISH program also needs information about their income and assets (and a recent photo of your spouse as well as a recent photo of yourself). Once you send all of this informaiton to the government, it takes them some months to go through it all before they decide if you qualify and can get AISH. They may say no and then you have to go through more time and paperwork for the appeal process.
 
Myth #2: It is easy to live on what AISH pays.
 
The basic amount AISH pays a single person each month is $1,685.There are also some medical costs covered separately. Only about 16% of the almost 70,000 people on AISH (less than 2% of the Alberta population) have any employment income to add to what they get from AISH. It is hard to make ends meet in Alberta on $1,685. The federal government set the CERB payments for people who lost their job during COVID-19 at $2000 as what they think is the minimum amount people need to live. The University of Calgary School of Public Policy says that rent for a single person in cheap shared housing (in the lowest 20% of 3-bedroom rentals for price shared with 2 roommates) ranges from $287 - $527 a month in Alberta, depending on where you live. Groceries cost from $407 - $450 a month, depending on where you live. Now add the cost of transportation, utilities (heat, lights, water, phone, Internet) and disability-related necessities (e.g., medication co-pays, OTC meds like aspirin, assistive device repairs). For those who see Internet as a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, access to services during a pandemic has taught us that that thinking is wrong. People should also have insurance on their belongings (i.e., renter's insurance) if they do not own their home. Home owners will not have rental costs, but will need to cover property taxes, insurance and maintenance/repairs. Now try to build in costs to prevent or deal with social isolation, which is very important for mental health. Have you run out of money in your budget yet? You may have savings to dip into in a bad month, but what if you have no savings or your savings run out?
 
Myth #3: People on AISH are a drain on the Alberta economy.
 
Having enough money to live on through AISH reduces the amount of money that the government must spend on Health and Mental Health services, services related to homelessness, and the Justice system when people must steal or engage in other illegal activity in order to meet basic needs. It also reduces the need for community members to support charities like Food Banks, and social services that address various health, mental health and support needs. People on AISH already need and use those services, but the need would be even greater if it were not for AISH and other government-funded supports. 
 
Another thing to consider is that nearly every cent of the money that people get as AISH is spent in Alberta, most within a few kilometers of where the person lives. It is hard for anyone on AISH to save up money for a vacation to another province or another country.
 
A final thing to think about is that most people on AISH contribute to our communities in a variety of ways. They create art for us to enjoy or be inspired by. They volunteer to help individuals and organizations when they have the time and energy. They provide emotional, and sometimes practical, support to friends and family so that they do not have to seek help from stretched community resources. They share their stories with the community and government to help create better understanding and greater compassion for diversity. They work with government and community organizations on problems to ensure that solutions are inclusive and the best possible for all Albertans.
 

Past News 

We were very happy when the government passed a law that makes AISH go up when the cost of living goes up. Albertans with disabilities would no longer have to use their limited energy to keep their standard of living from going down when costs rise. But the new UCP government changed its mind. The budget for 2020 de-indexed AISH and there were be no planned cost of living increases for the next 4 years. We sent a letter of protest on October 25, 2019 to the Minister of Community & Social Services. Here is what was in our letter:

We hope you will write letters to let the government know how de-indexing affects you and what your living expenses are like now. Let them know how your costs are going up and how it affects you. Also contact your MLA and ask to meet. Click here for what you can do to prepare to have a good meeting with government.


There are still other problems with the AISH system that need to be fixed. Sometimes the rules are hard to understand or information is mis-leading. If you have problems with AISH, please contact the Disability Advocate office and ask for help. Call 1-800-272-8841 for free or email advocate.disability@gov.ab.ca
 
April 6, 2017

Letter from David Morhart, Deputy Minister, Community and Social Services


I am pleased to let you know that Community and Social Services is implementing an AISH Action Plan to improve the AISH program and the appeals process. It outlines our response to the Alberta Auditor General’s October 2016 report, which provided three recommendations to ensure Albertan’s have a better experience when applying for, or receiving supports from AISH. It also demonstrates our commitment to ensuring government programs provide Albertans supportive, consistent experiences that focus on a person’s needs over time.

We’ve launched a web page for the AISH Action Plan. It features a video message from Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir, an overview of the activities underway and planned, as well as the AISH Action Plan in PDF.  I encourage you to visit alberta.ca/aish-action-plan.aspx to learn more and follow our progress as we implement changes that will make a difference to Albertans.

--Message from AACT

We wish that everybody who has problems with AISH did not have them. Thank you to those who write in to tell us about the problems they have had with AISH. We do not have staff or other resources to help individuals advocate with AISH staff. The Voices of Albertans with Disabilities group has people who can help you with AISH forms. All we can do is post your comments with your experience on our website. We encourage you to share your stories with the Ministry while they are looking at how to change AISH to make it better.

We find out things when we talk to each other about AISH. Here is what we found out at our July 2012 meeting. Click on the box in the bottom right corner to make the video bigger.


AISH covers the same medications as Blue Cross. Pharmacists have a list of those medications. If your medication is not on that list, ask your doctor to write a letter for you to take to AISH to see if they will cover the costs of that medication. You will still have to pay the pharmacy dispensing fee if they charge one.

AISH Online Policy Manual

Click here to find out about what services and supports you can access from AISH. 

All over Alberta, self-advocacy groups work to raise AISH. We got a raise. Now we need the government to say that AISH will go up whenever the cost of living goes up.

Click on the images below to find out more.

Take the AISH Challenge



Postcard to MLAs about AISH

32 comments:

  1. I applied for AISH benefits in November 2011, yes, 2011! Two weeks ago I was finally notified, and only because I called them, that my application was approved. In the 19 months that this has been ongoing it has been an absolute nightmare. My Dr.s are so fed up they just can't believe it. At any rate, my father just told me this this week that he has a small bequest for me that was left by my Grandmother many, many years ago. He had put it into an interest bearing account and it is finally coming due. Am I going to have to declare this small amount to my AISH worker? It just seems so unfair after waiting for so long, and borrowing so much money from my family. This amount would almost pay back my outstandind debt to my family. What are your thoughts? I don't want to get into trouble, and certainly am not a cheating type. I'm just frustrated.

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    1. as of now, 2017, not sure about past, you are allowed an inheritance up to $200,000 in your bank account. however, you won't qualify for certain extra benefits, such as say orthotics when more than $3000 is in your account. but if you apply to revenue canada for a disability tax credit (even though you may not have to pay taxes) you then can open an RDSP. Any money in your Registered Disability Savings Plan is an exempt asset, there may be a limit of $200,000 on it not sure.

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    2. DeeDee, I checked the AISH Policy Manual (the link is listed above on this page) and the asset limit is still only $100,000, NOT $200,000.

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  2. If the account is in your father's name and is not held in trust for you, the money is not yours until he gives it to you. You could suggest that he apply the money to your outstanding debt to your family. As long as the money is not in your name (i.e., a trust account) and you never have the money in your hand, it is never actually yours. You cannot declare what was never yours.

    If, on the other hand, the account is in your name or is a trust account for you, you officially have control and must declare it. It will affect your AISH only in the month you get it. You can give back to your family the amount you do not need to live on. This information comes from Section 2 and Tables 1-3 in http://www.qp.alberta.ca/1266.cfm?page=2007_091.cfm&leg_type=Regs&isbncln=9780779764563&display=html.

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  3. If you look at the AISH income chart at http://www.seniors.alberta.ca/aish/PolicyManual/Policy/Income/Income_Categories_Table_(April_2013)-Non-economic_Loss.pdf which is more recent than the above link you will see that both cash gifts and inheritances are exempt income. The only way you are not exempt is if you invest it and make money off of it. That is only partially exempt so some of that will come off your AISH in the month that you earn it. You are also allowed up to $100 000 in assets (your primary residence and primary vehicle and adapted vehicles are exempt) so if it is a small amount you don't have to stress over it unless you have a lot of assets (and seeing how it took so long for you to get AISH I doubt this is th case). I know how you feel though (well almost). It took 10 months for mine and I had to live on $809 a month on SFI for that time. Needless to say I am pretty badly in debt to my family too and all my back payments will pretty much be taken up by that. But at least now my income will cover my bills (barely but it will if I am careful).

    Anyways you take care and good luck to you! Hopefully things will get better for you!

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  4. Hi was wondering if I could get help I applied for aish in 2012 after I severely injured my back and my doctor filled out medical yet I wasnt approved applied for an appeal that I jad to cancel my hearing after my dr left I found a new dr who sent me to a bunch of specialists I barely can walk due to pain everyday no matter what I do I struggle to do things getting frustrated I applied for school I want to atleast try and get a little education so I can wrk a job even if its part time but I keep getting into money trouble cus I dont have money to pay for living welfare said I wasnt eligible for sfi yet I cannot work it got so bad in 2013 I lost my home and my car was homeless and try to get help and get turned away at every corner I had to move to grande prairie to get help with thier homeless initiative got a home last fall started going to school as a disabled student but I have to pay for all my meds and barely making it by welfare wont help cus im in school but yet aish still in effect for my classmates who r on it idk what to do I wish I could find someone who could help me with this stuff because I feel lost and drowning in paper getting told that im not disabled enough for aish even though I have doctors that say I cant work and I know I cant I do not have education to work in anything either

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    1. I hope u are succeeding now. Have you been able to get aish or other help .

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  5. I understand from AISH that there is a backlog. Still, you need to talk to AISH and find out what they need for your file to be complete. Treat "getting on AISH" as your job. Do what you can do each day to get your file complete and up to date. Ask the AISH worker what you need to have so that you can succeed at getting on AISH as soon as possible. If a doctor needs to use certain words that AISH recognizes in their report , find out what the words are and talk to the doctor so she or he knows what must go in the report. Be polite, just as you would to any boss, and just as you want to be treated yourself. Good luck.

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  6. I was diagnosed with MS in dec 2012 and was paralyzed on my right side I applied in that same month for aish. June 2013 I was denied and in that same month I appealed. Dec 2013 was my appeal date and after pouring my heart out, I get a letter January 2014 stating I was still denied. On january 28th I had another doctor appointment and she was furious! She filled out paper work again in great detail. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Then I phoned aish on feb 26 to see if they received it and they said I was approved feb 18. I phoned my doctor to thank her and she said my paperwork was still in her office!!! I am so confused as to why they all of a sudden approved me. The aish lady said that if I was approved in december they would of had to back pay me since january... was aish just being cheap and waiting until the new year to payout? My fiancé, daughter and I live with my parents because going from $2500 to $0 a month hurts! I'm happy im on aish finally but the amount of debt accumulated is not allowing us into a house. They wont even give me a reason why I was approved!

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  7. I applied for AISH back in May 2013, after being denied in January 2014, I appealed and was approved on February 28th. When I spoke with AISH on March 10th, 2014 (after receiving a letter from the appeal board saying the file had been closed because I had been approved) I was told it would take about a month to have my interview with a commencement worker, but it is April 16, 2014 and I have yet to have my interview. I have been waiting for about a month and a half so far.

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    1. Do not wait anymore. Call the AISH office and tell them you would like to set up the interview they promised would take place. Be polite and tell them you are trying to help them.

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  8. I won my appeal on December 4, 2014. My commencement was booked for January 16, 2015. On January 12/15, the worker requested over a years worth of bank statements, pay stubs from all the jobs for November 2013 to present, and amounts received from welfare. On January 15/15, she cancelled the commencement for January 16/15 because I couldn't get her a pay stub for a temp job of 15 days. I don't know what to do. I'm in a desperate situation and needed that income. She stated it would be done when she has all the info to calculate my claim. Is it possible for me to at least receive the monthly funds, and the lump sum to be calculated when all the information is received?

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    1. revenue canada will have a copy of that pay stub if it was claimed by the employer

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  9. Hello. I have been on AISH from September 2006 and I am working with an agency to help me find housing. I am having a problem with this worker because she is trying to control my AISH benefits. Ive dealt with lots of workers like this person. But she is refusing to work with me unless she can control me. I am a victim and I am homeless. I want to know where I can make a complaint about her and another worker. I want to know what you think and what I could do? Thankyou.

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  10. I'd like someone to contact me . I applied for aish and it took one month they denied me . I have a nerv disorder and am severely depressed . Please help someone I don't want to get cut off my benifits from pwmb
    is there a number I can call ?

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    1. Google AISH advocates in your city. There is a group that also works out of legal guidance . they may help also. Best of luck .

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  11. How long does it usually take to revive benefits and can I still be on income support while waiting ?

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  12. if you want changes to the aish program/policy s you must contact your local mla and or politician to have changes made as they are the ones who control the program and benefit amounts

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  13. To make changes to the aish program you need to contact your local mla or politician
    As they control the aish program.

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  14. Please will someone contact me.. I am having troubles with AISH. Was denied once, appealed, denied yet again. I am re-applying for AISH and truly need some help. I really appreciate it!!!

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  15. Apply again. Get medical documentation from doctors, appeal if denied. Keep reapplying until approved .good luck .

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  16. I have recently applied for Aish and have had Cronic renal failure I have been on Canada pension disability since 2001 was wondering if the fact I've been disabled within the definition of c p p will speed up my claim or if anyone can give me an idea how long I can expect to wait to hear from the programme rep thanks

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    1. you can not be on both cpp and aish, unless one pays more in which case you would get the difference added.

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  17. I applied for AISH about 6 months ago. They sent me the forms for my doctor about a week after I applied and I had my doctor sign them right away but I haven't heard from them since.

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  18. I applied for AISH about 6 months ago and got the form about a week later. After getting it filled out and sent I never heard back from them and don't know if I should contact them about it or not

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  19. I have been submitted my financial report with my spouse and my complete medical reports just recently, April 20 to be exact. How long I have been my waiting time to the approval of my application to AISH? Thanks for the reply

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  20. I applied for Aish and need to know where it's at. It's very important that I hear soon. It literally will determine if I get better or not. Contact me at rjoyvandenberg@hotmail.ca

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  21. I was just denied. I have mental heath issues. I take medication, it stops me from being suicidal but that wasnt why i applied for Aish anyway. They told me that because I was recieving treatment, then I wasnt eligiable.

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    1. don't give up. call them and ask questions, then do what they tell you. I was denied and just got accepted. It's hard, but don't give up. Yes, I'm in the same condition as you.

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  22. My aunty is applying to aish and the question she doesnt know how to answer is the one where it asks what is your primary illness. She is currently suffering from more than one illness

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  23. I am a single parent on aish, Dec 22 2016 my son turned 18 and is 6 months away from graduating grade 12 I am not receiving child support and was cut off child tax- family allowance in Dec as my son turned 18 so supporting my son on $100 a month from aish, I was told by MLA to take him to social services when I called income support- social services was told he does not qualify as he is in school full time..So he is expected to quit school 6 months before graduating grade 12 we live in a community of 115 people so getting a job here to support himself until school is done is not an option! He has disabilities as well diagnosed young with attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant ECT and has really tried hard to get to grade 12 now is supposed to quit school 6 months before he graduates to support himself???

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  24. my son applied for AISH in Apr 2016. he still hasnt heard back from them

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