Expected to Work/Barriers to Full Employment Policy & Procedures

Published Date: January 29, 2016
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19 Administrative Procedures

Payment Methods and Processes

Direct Deposit

INTENT

To ensure the Direct Deposit payment method is used appropriately.

POLICY

The direct deposit method of payment is mandatory for Income Support (IS) clients, unless specifically exempted, because it:

  • Is less costly and more efficient resulting in increased savings to taxpayers in administrative costs and fewer phone calls to workers.
  • Provides cost saving to clients (who may otherwise pay fees at cheque cashing agencies).
  • Encourages client financial responsibility.

Workers have discretion to exempt direct deposit based on their assessment of client circumstances. Possible reasons for exemption include: client requests an exemption because of garnishment; client is unable to manage a bank account due to a disability; remote area; client unable to obtain bank account due to credit history.

Note
IS benefits deposited in a bank account that are not or have never been intermingled with other funds (i.e., a stand-alone bank account where no other funds are deposited except for IS benefits), cannot be garnisheed under the
Civil Enforcement Act.
This does not apply to garnishee orders legislated under other Acts. Clients with garnishee orders should be advised to discuss their situation with the creditor.

Out of Province Bank Accounts
Out of province accounts will be accepted for clients with an Alberta residence when the client verbally declares one of the following circumstances:

  • The client has recently moved from another province and is unable to open a bank account in Alberta and/or their bank refuses to transfer their account.

  • The client holds an account, which has centralized banking, with their Head Office in another province (e.g., Manulife Bank of Canada).

  • The out of province banking institution offers free or reduced service charges (e.g., President’s Choice Financial).

  • The client is disabled and does banking by phone or over the Internet.

  • The client resides in a border municipality.

Joint Bank Accounts (With Someone Not on the File)
Joint bank accounts are discouraged and clients should be advised:

  • All money in a joint account is considered in determining eligibility.
  • Joint accounts are a consideration when looking at the determination of financial interdependency.
  • A joint account may be used as evidence of a continuing relationship between separated couples.

Direct Deposit Registration
The EMP 2443 Direct Deposit Registration is provided to clients as part of the Intake Application package. A bank version of a Direct Deposit form is acceptable if it includes the name of the client, their bank information, and a signed declaration from the client authorizing the department to deposit payments into the bank account provided. If the bank form does not have a declaration the client can attach an EMP 2443 Direct Deposit Registration form with section “A” completed and the declaration signed.

Clients are encouraged to have one of these forms completed by the bank before meeting with a worker.

A 30-day extension can be given. If so, the first month of assistance is issued by cheque and a Task is entered in Mobius for follow-up. Even when a cheque is issued the Direct Deposit process is explained at the Intake appointment.

Note
Transient or One-Time Issue clients do not need to submit a Direct Deposit application unless they want their benefit deposited into their bank account.

A Direct Deposit form already on the file can be used when the file is re-opened if the client confirms the information is still current.

Approving Direct Deposit bank information is a two level process. The information is entered into the system and then forwarded to the next level for verification.

Bank Rejection Reports
Within two to five working days a Bank Rejection Report is initiated if the bank cannot locate the account number that has been sent electronically (i.e., the account has closed, the information was entered improperly, the bank provided wrong account number, or the account is from a bank branch that has not been registered with the Finance Department). In such cases, initial benefits can be mailed out and a Task is entered in Mobius for follow-up.

Note
The worker should contact
HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca
 to investigate if the bank is a valid bank registered in LISA. 

Recalls and Traces for Direct Deposits
If a Direct Deposit payment has been approved for release and the actual Direct Deposit date has not yet occurred, a recall can be requested to stop the payment from being deposited into the client’s bank account.

The following are some reasons a recall may be requested:

  • Client changed banks without notifying the worker, and will require a reissue to be made to their new bank account.
  • The worker identifies the client was issued more than they were entitled.

Requests for recalls must be made to Client Payment Systems by e-mailing the client’s name, direct deposit number, amount, and banking information to HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca by 11:00 AM the day before the Direct Deposit’s due date.

If a client has indicated that a Direct Deposit was not deposited into their account, a trace can be requested to determine where the money was deposited. Requests for traces are made to Client Payment Systems by e-mailing the client’s name, direct deposit number, amount, and banking information to HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca. It takes the bank approximately 5 working days to process a trace request.

PROCEDURES

Entering a Direct Deposit

  1. On the Bank Information Update LISA screen in the Direct Deposit Exemption field, enter an “N”.
  2. Enter the bank account information.
  3. The reason for an out of province bank account should be recorded in Mobius Notes. 
  4. For out of province bank accounts, a Task should be entered in Mobius for annual review.
  5. Get a second level of approval from an Administrative Support Staff.

Exempting a Direct Deposit

  1. On the Bank Information Update LISA screen in the Direct Deposit Exemption field enter a “Y”.
  2. Get a second level of approval from an Administrative Support staff.
  3. Enter Notes in Mobius explaining the reason for the exemption.

Requesting a recall or Trace on a Direct Deposit

  1. Send an email to HS.CheqContr@gov.ab.ca or phone Cheque Control, and indicate:

    • The cheque number,
    • The cheque amount,
    • The client’s file number,
    • The client’s banking information (bank number, branch number, and account number), and
    • Specifying if you require a recall or trace.