» Income and Employment Supports Policy Manual

Skip To Navigation

Skip To Content

Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: January 01, 2019
Bookmark this page

18 Overpayment, Debt and Recovery



Income and Employment Support Act (IESA), sections 16, 24, 25, Part 6 and Part 9
Income Support, Training and Health Benefits (ISTHB) Regulation, section 99
Recovery Regulation

Definitions and Terms

Collections Unit, Financial Operations
Financial Operations, Community and Social Services, is responsible for the management of debts on closed files as well as the collection of these debts through Service Alberta and/or contracted agencies. They also deal with caveats, bankruptcies and file reviews of contentious Community and Social Services debts.

LISA Recovery Letter
The letter printed by LISA when a file closes outlining the client’s outstanding debt to Community and Social Services and the options for payment.

Period of Assistance (POA)
The month in which an overpayment is assessed or a debt has occurred.

Service Alberta
Service Alberta is the first contact for collection and recovery activity on closed Income Support files.


An overpayment occurs when a client:

  • Received benefits due to non-disclosure of material fact, false representation, error or any other reason to which they were not entitled, or
  • Did not use a supplemental benefit, a health benefit, or a training benefit for its intended purpose.

A debt occurs when a client is issued a benefit subject to repayment (i.e., the client agrees to repay the benefit issued). This is limited to those benefits listed in IESA, section 16 and ISTHB Regulation, section 99.

Debts incurred under the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act can be collected under IESA, section 38(2) and Part 9.

An overpayment refers to the amount assessed as having been overpaid to the client. An overpayment is not the same as a debt. For any POA, an overpayment must:

  • Not exceed the financial benefits issued for that period.
  • Be the same as the actual deprivation to Community and Social Services, unless the client is deemed totally ineligible.
  • Not include medical benefits, unless the client is ineligible for total benefits.

A debt refers to an amount determined to be repayable to the department. An amount is determined to be repayable to the department when the client:

  • Agrees to repay the amount (by signing a repayment agreement);
  • Is convicted of fraud and has been ordered to pay restitution or compensation;
  • Has not filed an appeal on an assessed overpayment and the appeal period has expired (i.e., the client’s 30 day appeal period and notice period has elapsed);
  • Has appealed an assessed overpayment and the Income and Employment Support Appeal Panel has upheld the department’s decision or has varied the overpayment amount; or
  • Has appealed an assessed overpayment and the appeal panel has determined the appeal to be abandoned by the client.

A debt can also refer to third party amounts that are determined to be repayable to the department such as sponsorship defaults.

The rates and policies in effect at the time the overpayment was incurred must be used.

Needs which should have been on the budget or would have been approved can be used to offset an overpayment (e.g. child care, Child Supplement Allowance, etc.).

Earnings exemptions are not provided if the client intentionally did not report income, or intentionally reported a lesser amount than they received. If the client had no intent to mislead Community and Social Services an earnings exemption is provided against unreported income.

When an overpayment is discovered the worker should, wherever possible, contact the client to discuss the situation. Clients should be given the opportunity to make full disclosure and provide documentation to verify their situation.

If program abuse is suspected, the worker does not enter an overpayment or discuss recovery action with the client until the Investigations Unit finishes their involvement.

All documentation used to support an overpayment must be filed on Section 1 of the client’s file, including any findings from a fraud investigation which are used to assess an overpayment.

The client’s file must not be sent for destruction until the debt is paid in full.