AISH Program Policy

Published Date: December 11, 2017
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Eligibility Criteria


Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act, section 1(i) and 3(3)
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped General Regulation, sections 2, 3 and 4


To outline the requirements that must be met to be eligible for AISH benefits.


To qualify and maintain eligibility for the AISH program, the following criteria for general, financial and medical eligibility must be met.

General Eligibility


  • Clients must be 18 years old or older.
  • Applicants and clients must not be eligible to receive a monthly pension under Part 1 of the Old Age Security (OAS) Act (Canada).
    • This does not include the OAS Allowance or OAS Allowance for the Survivor (issued under Part III of the OAS Act). Clients receiving OAS Allowances may still be eligible for AISH.


  • Applicants and clients must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, as defined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada).
  • Applicants and clients must be ordinarily resident in Alberta. 
  • Clients must not reside in an institution as outlined in the AISH General Regulation. 
  • Applicants and clients receiving treatment in a hospital may be eligible for AISH benefits unless the hospital space falls under the Mental Health Regulation and is considered an institution by AISH. In this case, refer to the above eligibility criteria regarding institutions.

Financial Eligibility

Income and Assets

The income and assets of applicants, clients and their cohabiting partners must not exceed the limits allowed under the program.

Individuals receiving Alberta Works, Income Support (under Part 2, Division 1 of the Income and Employment Supports Act) are not eligible to receive AISH benefits.

Applicants, clients and their cohabiting partners are required to access all income and assets they are eligible to receive. This includes requesting Canada Pension Plan - Disability and OAS benefits or assigning payment of these benefits in an amount equivalent to the living allowance or modified living allowance to AISH.

  • While Canada Pension Plan - Retirement pension rules allow application at 60 years old, applicants, clients and their cohabiting partners are not required to apply for these benefits before age 65.
  • While OAS rules allow individuals to defer OAS pension benefits for up to five years beyond the age of eligibility, applicants, clients and their cohabiting partners who defer OAS pension benefits are not eligible to receive AISH benefits.

Medical Eligibility

Severe Handicap

To be medically eligible for AISH, an Albertan must have a “severe handicap”. According to 1(i) of the AISH Act this means:

  • An impairment of mental and or/or physical functioning.
  • This impairment causes a substantial limitation in the person’s ability to earn a livelihood.
  • The impairment is likely to continue to affect that person permanently because no remedial therapy is available that would materially improve the person’s ability to earn a livelihood.

Having a disability alone does not mean a person is eligible for AISH. Applicants and clients are responsible for proving that a severe handicap exists and obtaining the appropriate documentation from a physician or specialist. AISH may consider multiple conditions collectively when each condition alone is not considered severe.

When making a decision on medical eligibility, consideration is given to the:

  • Need for ongoing medical intervention; 
  • Need for a major organ transplant; 
  • Individual effort made to correct, control or lessen the severity of the disability; 
  • Existence of multiple conditions that are not responsive to treatment; 
  • Existence of generalized medical conditions that require extensive and extreme treatment, and are not likely to yield a favorable prognosis; and 
  • Availability of remedial therapy, including medical and non-medical treatments or rehabilitation that may materially improve the condition.

Applicants and clients must seek or accept reasonable employment for reasonable wages, within their ability. While AISH applicants and clients may not be able to fully support themselves through work, they may still be able to work or do volunteer work. AISH encourages clients to work to the extent they are able.