Alberta.ca » Income and Employment Supports Policy Manual


Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: October 25, 2018
Bookmark this page

12 Assets

Asset Exemptions

AUTHORITY

Income Support, Training and Health Benefits (ISTHB) Regulation, Section 20, 21and 28
Income Support, Training and Health Benefits Regulation, Schedule 1, Section 1
MO 2016-18 Exemption of Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement
MO 2016-22 BFE/ETW & Full-Time Learners Ministerial Order: Section 24, Schedules 1, 2, and 4
MO 2017-13 Agricultural Benefits Settlement Agreements
MO-2017-17 Piikani Nation Grazing Leases Specific Claim Settlement Agreement 
MO-2018-09 Liquid Asset Test
MO-2018-15 Lubicon Lake Band No. 453 Treaty 8 Lands and Benefits Claim Settlement Agreement

INTENT

Certain assets are exempt to ensure:

  • Applicants/Recipients who are eligible for on-going benefits are not placed in total poverty by being deprived of everything valuable they own. 
  • People have some resources they can use to purchase items that are not available through Income Support (IS). 
  • People are encouraged to save for their and their children’s futures and manage their funds.


POLICY

An applicant or recipient that has a non-exempt asset is not eligible for income support.

Liquid Asset Exemptions for Applicants and Recipients

Liquid asset exemptions are in addition to:

  • Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement payments
  • Extraordinary Assistance Plan payments 
  • Provincial payments to persons (or their families) who have contracted HIV through the blood supply 
  • Payments received under Schedule A or B of the 1986-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement other than payments received under section 4.02 of that Agreement (for loss of income) or section 6.01 of that Agreement (for loss of support resulting from the death of the infected person) 
  • Financial benefits paid pursuant to section 13, 15, 19(3) of the Alberta Victims of Crime Act 
  • Common Experience Payments (CEPs) and Independent Assessment Process Payments (IAPs) under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement 
  • Roth/Fifield Class Action Settlement Agreement from the Government of Alberta 
  • A Slave Lake Wildfire Relief Payment or a payment under the Emergency Accommodation Program to persons subject to the mandatory evacuation order issued by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency in May 2011.  
  • Government payments as designated by the Minister
  • Compensation issued by the Government of Alberta for damage or loss caused by a disaster as determined by the Government of Alberta.
  • Payments issued by a charitable organization for a disaster as determined by the Government of Alberta.
  • Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement from the Government of Alberta.
  • A non-recurring per capita distribution payment received from the First Nation and paid equally to each band member, from the following agreements:
    • Agricultural Benefits Settlement Agreements;
    • The Piikani Nation Grazing Leases Specific Claim Settlement Agreement; and
    • The Lubicon Lake Band No. 453 Treaty 8 Lands and Benefits Claim Settlement Agreement. 

      Note
      Interest income, generated from investing an ABSA PCD payment, is not exempt. This includes interest income generated from an ABSA PCD payment that is held in a trust account for a dependent child and that is accessed when the child reaches the age of majority.


Definition of Core Benefits

Core benefits for liquid asset purposes only are defined as:


The Core Essential and Core Shelter are determined using the applicable rates based upon the client’s household composition, household type and living arrangement.

For applicants residing in social housing use the appropriate maximum private Core Shelter rate (not the Social Housing rate) from ISTHB Regulation, Schedule 5, Core Shelter Payment Table  for the purpose of determining Core Benefits.

The Federal Child Benefit amounts are determined by the Minister under MO-2018-09 Liquid Asset Test, as:

  • $192 per month for the first dependent child;
  • $170 per month for the second dependent child; and
  • $162 per month for each remaining dependent child.


For purposes of the Liquid Asset Test, the following table is a summary of the monthly Federal Child Benefit amounts based on the number of dependent children in an IS household unit. 

Number of Children 

Federal Child Benefit Amount 

 $192

2

 $362

 $524

 $686

 $848

6

 $1,010

 Each additional child

 Add $162 per child


Workers must manually calculate Core Benefits if the client is eligible for the High School Incentive benefit as LISA is unable to calculate it automatically (see procedures this section).

Expected To Work (ETW) or Working Household Unit

The value of the combined liquid assets of the adult members of the household unit cannot exceed one month’s total Core Benefits for the household unit. ISTHB Regulation, Section 21(1)

Barriers to Full Employment (BFE) Household Unit

The value of the combined liquid assets of the adult members of the household unit cannot exceed two month’s total Core Benefits for the household unit. ISTHTB Regulation, Section 21(1)

Income Tax Refunds

Income Tax refunds are part of liquid assets and may affect eligibility.

For applicants, the remaining portion of the combined tax refunds of the head of the household and spouse/partner is a liquid asset.

For recipients, the tax refunds of the head of household and spouse/partner are considered to be exempt in the month they are received. Any funds remaining in the following month are considered to be a liquid asset. This allows clients to have resources to purchase items not available through income support and/or an opportunity to convert the refund into an asset.

The onus to report Income Tax refunds rests with the client. Each year, clients will receive a direct deposit/cheque message in April and May advising them to file an Income Tax return and to report any refunds to their worker.

Substantiation

Unless otherwise stated the client’s verbal or written statement and signature on the EMP 3428 Income Support Application or with their monthly reporting is the standard requirement to substantiate assets.

If the client has liquid assets, the worker considers the amount of the assets in determining whether to ask for additional documentation. The worker may request to view documents such as:

  • Current bank statement or passbook.
  • Statement or letter from a financial institution confirming the number, value and maturity date of bonds, stocks, securities or shares.
  • Statement from a financial institution to confirm the value of a GIC or term deposit.

Exempt Assets

Apply the exemptions below to determine whether an applicant or recipient is eligible for IS benefits. ISTHB Regulation, Schedule 1, Section 1(1)

Home

A home of any value in which the individual lives, including the home quarter section for farmers, is exempt.

Clothing

Clothing, personal jewelry, children’s toys, and common household goods are exempt with no restrictions.

Household Furnishings and Appliances

Household furnishings and appliances of reasonable value are exempt. Household furnishings and appliances of reasonable value means items ordinarily found in a typical household.

Business Tools and Equipment

Business tools including essential equipment and supplies for farmers needed for employment are exempt.

Business and Farm Assets

  1. Business

    Assets required for the operation’s viability are exempt if the applicant or recipient cannot get a loan, to allow a viable business to operate through a brief period of difficulty.

    If a business operation is not viable, the recipient’s client category will determine the expectation to seek other work.

  2. Farm

    Farm machinery and other assets required for the operation’s viability are exempt if the applicant or recipient cannot get a loan, to allow a viable farm to operate through a brief period of difficulty. 


If the farm operation is not viable, the recipient's client category will determine the expectation to seek other work. 

Substantiation

  • A worker may request additional substantiation such as an income tax assessment, business/farm records, or appraisal of assets to determine value.
  • The worker may also request confirmation that the client is unable to obtain a loan or line of credit to operate their business through the brief period of difficulty.

Vehicles

Any number of vehicles in which the total equity is $10,000 or less is exempt.

Note
Equity means the value of the vehicle(s), after subtracting money owed on the vehicle(s) from the market value of the vehicle(s).

Although clients are required to “access all resources available outside of the program” there may be situations when a worker may need to consider further exemption of a vehicle asset. The worker should consider:


Workers may exceed the $10,000 vehicle asset limit when a member of the household unit requires a vehicle:

  1. To access confirmed employment or training;
  2. As part of their Service Plan;
  3. To access health services or to meet family care responsibilities.  

    Note
    When an amount greater than $10,000 is entered, the LISA system will display the message “Vehicle Value Exceeds Policy Limit”. This is just a warning and will not prevent workers from proceeding.


Workers must enter Mobius Notes explaining why the vehicle asset limit has been exceeded.

In addition to other motor vehicles, any vehicle specially adapted to accommodate a disability of an applicant, recipient or any member of the household unit is exempt, regardless of value and equity.

Substantiation

  • Workers may request to view a Vehicle Registration Certificate, an appraisal from a reliable source to determine the value of the vehicle, and/or a loan document to determine the equity in the vehicle.
  • The Canadian Red Book is helpful to determine market value of a vehicle.

Asset Bought With Exempt Income

An asset is exempt if bought with money received from the following:

  • Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement
  • Extraordinary Assistance Plan
  • Compensation for HIV infection through the blood supply
  • Financial benefits under the Victims of Crime Act
  • Common Experience Payments (CEPs) and Independent Assessment Process Payments (IAPs) under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
  • Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement
  • Roth/Fifield Class Action Settlement Agreement from the Government of Alberta
  • A Slave Lake Wildfire Relief Payment or a payment under the Emergency Accommodation Program to persons subject to the mandatory evacuation order issued by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency in May 2011.
  • Compensation issued by the Government of Alberta pursuant to a Disaster Recovery Program for the June 2013 floods.
  • Compensation issued by the Government of Alberta for damage or loss caused by a disaster as determined by the Government of Alberta.  
  • Payments issued by a charitable organization for a disaster as determined by the Government of Alberta.
  • Alberta Child Welfare Class Action Settlement from the Government of Alberta.
  • A non-recurring per capita distribution payment received from the First Nation and paid equally to each band member, from the following agreements:
    • Agricultural Benefits Settlement Agreements; and
    • The Piikani Nation Grazing Leases Specific Claim Settlement Agreement.    

      Note
      An asset bought with ongoing payments received under Section 4.02 (payment for loss of income) or section 6.01 (payment for loss of support) of the 1986-1990 Hepatitis C Settlement Agreement is not exempt.


An asset is exempt if bought with money received from a Government of Canada or Government of Alberta payment exempted by the Minister under Schedule 2, Section 1(1)(y)  (e.g., Alberta Resource Rebate, CEPs and IAPs under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement) ISTHB Regulation, Schedule 1, Section 1(1)(n).

Substantiation

The client’s verbal or written statement:

  • Describing the asset, and
  • Indicating the value of the asset, and
  • Identifying the exempt income with which the asset was purchased.


Assets Held by Trustee in Bankruptcy

Any asset held by a trustee in bankruptcy for any member of the household unit under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada) is exempt with no restrictions.  

Substantiation

Written documentation for the worker from an official source (such as a trustee, lawyer, or bankruptcy documents) is required.

Short-Term Exemption

This section allows time for a client to dispose of an asset which is not appropriate for exemption, but which cannot be disposed of in time to meet the immediate need (e.g. a luxury item such as fine art or expensive entertainment systems).

Any asset required to be disposed of for fair value within a time specified is a short-term exemption, not to exceed one month at a time unless specified otherwise, that may be granted, only if extreme hardship would result from not giving income support benefits.

This exemption must not be used to exempt excess liquid assets.  It is used to exempt assets not specified in ISTHB Regulation.  The worker uses discretion when using this section to exempt assets not specified in policy or regulation.

Extensions are permitted only if the recipient proves continuing effort to deal with the asset. The requirement to sell for fair value prevents an applicant or recipient from giving assets away or selling assets for a nominal amount (e.g. $1) on a private agreement that will be returned later.

Two specific exemptions under this section are real estate the applicant or recipient does not occupy as the principal residence, and marketable commodities of a farm or business.

Real Estate

Solely owned real estate the applicant or recipient does not occupy as the principal residence (e.g. cottage, rental property) is exempt for not more than three months at a time, or the property must be used to secure a loan.

Jointly owned real estate, which the applicant or recipient does not occupy as the principal residence, with a co-owner who is not a member of the household unit (e.g. former matrimonial home) is exempt for not more than six months at a time.

Substantiation

If a client owns real estate, the standard requirement for substantiation for a worker to view is:

  • A document indicating the current market value such as a written appraisal, current property tax assessment, and/or mortgage documents or
  • Written documentation from a financial institution indicating a loan cannot be obtained against the real estate and
  • Real estate listing or newspaper ad indicating the real estate is for sale at a reasonable price and
  • In the case of jointly owned real estate, a copy of the mortgage or land title to identify co-owner(s) and
  • If a co-owner(s) of jointly owned real estate is unwilling to sell, the client provides evidence such as a letter from the co-owner(s) stating this and
  • If the real estate is rented out, a copy of the lease agreement, official receipts or income tax assessment to determine income.

Marketable Commodities

Marketable commodities produced or purchased in mass quantity and intended for sale or resale (farm yield such as grain, poultry, eggs, cattle and hogs,) are exempt for up to one year, to allow a viable farm to operate through a brief period of difficulty.

The owner is expected to sell at current market prices if the sale does not endanger the on-going operation of a viable farm. Profit from the sale must be declared as income. Sale of a commodity may result in a lower profit than might have been received later. However, resources must be used if they will reduce reliance on income support. The worker does not exempt marketable commodities merely because of price fluctuations.

Substantiation

The worker may request additional substantiation such as a current income tax assessment, District Agriculturalist’s report, or current farm records.

Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRA)

A LIRA is a registered account that holds pension money that has been transferred from a pension plan.  Money held within a LIRA are exempt assets.

Substantiation

Written documentation from an official source (i.e., financial institution) indicating that the funds are locked in a LIRA is required.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

All RESPs in any amount are exempt.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

A RRSP to the value of $5,000 per adult member of the household unit is exempt.

Substantiation

Written documentation from an official source (such as a financial institution) stating the value of all RRSPs for each adult in the household unit is required.

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

All RDSPs in any amount are exempt.

Life Insurance Policy

A life insurance policy with a cash surrender value of $1,500 or less for the household unit is exempt.

Substantiation

Written documentation from an official source, such as a life insurance company stating the cash surrender value of all life insurance policies for each adult in the household unit, is required.

Prepaid Funeral Costs

All prepaid funeral costs for any member of the household unit are exempt.

Money In Trust for a Child

Money received on a child’s behalf, other than funds intended for a child’s maintenance, and placed in an inaccessible trust for the child, plus any interest or income earned by that money that accrues to and forms part of the trust is exempt:

  • For an applicant, if placed in trust before applying, or within 60 days after applying, for income support benefits.
  • For a recipient, if placed in trust within 60 days of being received.
  • For both, the money is exempt only if it cannot be withdrawn for the child’s benefit.


If the parent, guardian or child can get money from the trust account, the money in that fund is not exempt.

Note
The principal amount of a per capita distribution (PCD) payment, resulting from an Agricultural Benefits Settlement Agreement (ABSA), and held in a trust account for a dependent child, is exempt.

Money for maintenance may be exempt as income, but is not exempt as an asset even if placed in trust.

CPP Orphans Benefit is not exempt income. It cannot be made exempt as an asset under this section by placing it in trust because it is for maintenance and education.

Money left to a child in a will is not exempt income, but may qualify for exemption under this section, depending on the terms of the will. Each decision depends on the particular circumstances.

Substantiation

Written documentation from an official source such as a lawyer, public trustee, financial institution, or a copy of a will that states:

  • The money is not accessible
  • The source of the money to determine whether it was intended for the education or maintenance of the child
  • The date the money was placed in trust
  • The date the child can access the money

Children’s Assets

Money saved by a dependent child and/or assets accumulated by a dependent child are exempt and are not taken into consideration when determining the household unit’s assets. The asset(s) must be in the child’s name. This provides an incentive for children to accumulate savings and/or assets such as RESPs for further education (ISTHB Regulation, Section 21(3)).

Money saved by an adult member of the household unit for a dependant that is accessible by the adult (i.e., a joint bank account) is not exempt. Clients reporting these funds to be the savings or assets of the dependant may turn them into another asset exempted by policy (i.e., RESP, inaccessible trust).

Other Assets

Any other asset, excluding a liquid asset, may be exempted as per ISTHB Regulation, Schedule 1, Section 1(o) and (2).  The asset may be required to be disposed of within a specified time frame or used to secure a loan.

Substantiation

The client’s verbal or written statement and their signature on the EMP 3428 Income Support Application, ARC or CRC is the standard requirement.

  • Other documentation may be required depending on the exempted asset.

LISA Asset Fields

LISA has the following asset fields in Eligibility Determination and Client File that must be completed if assets are disclosed:

  • Liquid Assets
  • RRSP
  • Life Insurance
  • Vehicle(s)


These fields have edits with maximum amounts prescribed by ISTHB Regulation.

PROCEDURES

Applicants

When determining eligibility for IS based on assets, the worker:

  1. Determines the kind and value of all assets belonging to adult members in the household unit.

  2. Completes the appropriate asset fields in Eligibility Determination.

    • If eligible for the benefit, enter the applicant’s actual liquid asset in the Liquid Assets field on the Asset screen in Eligibility Determination (ED) and proceed. LISA will not provide any message if the client is eligible.
    • If the message “Liquid Assets Total Exceeds Limit” appears, the worker must manually recalculate the liquid asset level to include the HSI.
    • Determine the appropriate HSI.

      Note
      Multiply this number by 2 for a BFE household type (HT).

    • Add this number to the Liquid Asset Maximum displayed on the Asset screen in Eligibility Determination. This is the new liquid asset maximum for the client.
    • If eligible, enter assets totaling $1.00 in Liquid Assets field on the Asset screen in Eligibility Determination and record in Mobius Notes that a manual calculation was completed along with the total assets.

  3. Enters temporarily exempt assets in the Temporarily Exempt asset field.

  4. Does not enter assets that are 100% exempt in ED.

  5. Rejects ineligible applicants and advises them of their right to appeal.

  6. Records the applicant’s assets and/or the reason for rejection based on assets in Mobius Notes and places a Task  in Mobius for appropriate follow-up.

Recipients

When becoming aware of a change in the client’s assets directly from the client or through a reliable source (e.g., Income Tax return reported on the CRC), the worker:

  1. Contacts the client to confirm the current total of their assets, particularly liquid assets.

  2. Updates the appropriate asset fields in Client File.

    • If eligible for the HSI benefit, enter the recipient’s actual liquid asset in the Liquid Assets field on the Additional Client File Information screen in Client File and proceed. LISA will not provide any message if the client is eligible.
    • If the message “Cash Total Exceeds Limit” appears, the worker must manually recalculate the liquid asset level to include the HSI.
    • Remove the amount entered in the Liquid Assets field and proceed to the Budget Update screen in Client Budget.
    • Enter only the needs identified as Core Benefits for the purpose of determining liquid assets in the Need column, including the appropriate HSI amount. The amount displayed in the Total Needs field is the new liquid asset maximum for the client.

      Note
      Multiply this number by 2 for a BFE HT.

    • If eligible, return to the Additional Client File Information screen in Client File and enter assets totaling $1.00 in the Liquid Assets field.
    • Record in Mobius Notes that a manual calculation was completed along with the total assets.

  3. Advises the client if they become ineligible due to excess assets that their file will close for at least one month.

  4. Advises ineligible clients that they have the right to appeal and can reapply for income support once their assets are below the allowable level for their particular circumstances.

  5. Records the new circumstances regarding assets in Mobius Notes.

  6. Continues to provide income support to clients whose eligibility is not impacted by the asset reported.

  7. Reviews the file for potential debts and/or referral for Fraud Investigation when appropriate.

LISA

  1. Compares the amount of the assets entered in ED and Client File with the maximums allowed based on household composition, HT and Living Arrangement.

    Note
    Populates asset information in Client File from information entered in Eligibility Determination.
    For recipients the asset calculation automatically includes the following benefits (Core Essential, Core Shelter, Handicap Benefit, Personal Needs Supplement and Earnings Replacement Allowance).

  2. Displays an Assets Exceed Maximum message if any asset renders an applicant or recipient ineligible for income support. This also prevents LISA from setting the applicant status to Eligible.

    Workers must reduce the liquid asset below the liquid asset maximum in order to continue if a manual calculation of Core Benefits was used.