Learner Policy & Procedures

Published Date: August 23, 2016
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Service Management: Learner Income Support

Recovery of Debts

AUTHORITY

Income and Employment Supports Act, Section 16
Income and Employment Supports Act, Part 6
Income Support, Training and Health Benefits Regulation, Section 99
Recovery Regulation, Section 1(1)
MO 311/2016 Exemption of Canada Child Benefit
MO 2016-13 Exemption of Canada Child Benefit

INTENT

To minimize the creation of debts for learners.

To ensure clients receive all the benefits for which they are eligible under the program.

To recover benefits which clients are not entitled, or benefits which are subject to repayment.

To maximize the collection of debt within existing legislation, without creating undue hardship for current and previous clients:

  • Collection must be professional, efficient and fair.
  • Debts are collected as quickly as possible with the least administrative costs. The cost of recovering a debt should not exceed the amount of the debt.

POLICY

Once an overpayment has become a debt, it is recovered.

All benefits issued subject to a repayment agreement are debts.

The duplicated portion of the Temporary Child Supplement Allowance (NCBS Temporary Replacement Benefit) is paid back in full as soon as the Non-EI learner receives their lump sum payment from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Underpayments

Underpayments occur when a learner applied for and was not issued a benefit they were entitled to, or, was issued a benefit amount less than the amount for which they were eligible.

A learner who applied for and was eligible for a benefit(s) in the past, but who did not receive the benefit(s), may be issued the benefit(s) while the learner is in training or for up to six months after the learner completes or withdraws from training. An underpayment incurred within an existing training period may be applied to reduce a current learner debt. Underpayments must not be transferred between individuals in the learner client category and individuals in the Expected to Work (ETW)/Barriers to Full Employment (BFE) client categories.

Debts Incurred While in Training

Learners who have incurred a debt while in training will have a deduction from their monthly learner income support benefit, commencing the next month in which learner income support is paid.

Recovery Rates

The recovery rate is the amount deducted from a learner’s monthly benefits to repay a debt.  The default recovery rates are: 

  • 1 adult in household – $35.00 
  • 2 adults in household – $65.00

Varying the Recovery Rate

The rationale for decreasing or increasing the recovery rate must be entered in Mobius Notes.

The recovery rate may be decreased to $10.00 in situations where the recovery deduction is creating an undue hardship for the learner.  When negotiating a lower rate, consider the following:

  • Is the learner experiencing financial hardship?
  • Is the learner receiving all of the benefits for which their dependent children are eligible?
  • Is the learner reasonably able to modify living expenses now or in the future to no longer be in financial hardship and repay a higher debt amount?

Recovery rates are not reduced below $10 except in exceptional circumstances.  The lowest recovery rate that a debt can be reduced to is $1.

Payments at a higher rate may be put in place at the request of the learner, provided deductions do not exceed 10% of the household unit’s Core Benefits.

If a learner has more than one debt, or a debt and a repayable benefit, then each debt and repayment is set up separately in Mobius. Repayment is based on the established recovery rates.

The recovery process continues until the debt is paid in full or the learner completes or withdraws from training. At that time, the gross debt amount and payment(s) made to date are transferred to the Recoveries system and the outstanding debt is set up for further collection.

Outstanding Debts (under IESA) from Previous Training

Learners who incurred a debt during the 2004/05 academic year or in subsequent academic years and where the amount of the debt was not paid in full during the training period, receive a letter indicating that Service Alberta has taken over the collection of the debt on behalf of Human Services, the amount of their outstanding balance and how to make payments on their debt. Learners are expected to repay their outstanding debt(s) in full.

PROCEDURE

When there is a change in circumstance that effects benefit calculation, Mobius does an eligibility reassessment.

If there is no change Mobius generates the Funding Decision letter to the learner.

If there is an overpayment, Mobius:

  • creates a liability case
  • creates a cumulative total of overpayments in the Integrated Case
  • generates Funding Decision letter to the learner
  • generates a task to Learner Income Support Office (LISO) (content differs depending on whether over or under $500)
  • If overpayment is $500 or more, automatically generates a task to the LISO work queue 40 days after date of Funding Decision letter (when appeal period is exhausted).

If there is an underpayment, Mobius:

  • generates the Funding Decision letter
  • immediately generates a payment for the underpayment amount,  rather than waiting for the next scheduled payment
  • generates the pay slip for the learner
  • adjusts future payments to reflect this change to benefit calculation if applicable.

The LISO Learner Benefit Coordinator upon receiving the task from Mobius checks Notes to see if there is an appeal, appeal pending, appeal withdrawn or appeal completed. The Coordinator will complete the following activities depending on the outcome of the appeal:

  • No appeal or appeal withdrawn:

    • enters task comments
    • copies and pastes task comments on to Mobius Notes
    • activates liability case and sets up recovery amounts
    • Crystallized Debt letter is generated and sent to the learner.

  • Appeal pending:

    • enters task comments and closes task
    • copies and pastes task comments on to Mobius Notes
    • bf’s for appeal outcome.

  • Income and Employment Supports Appeal Panel reverses or varies the department's position:

    • enters task comments
    • copies and pastes task comments on to Mobius Notes
    • adjusts/applies evidence
    • reassesses Product Delivery Case if adjusted evidence results in a cumulative overpayment $500 or more, activates liability case and sets up recovery amounts
    • a Funding Decision letter is generated and sent to explain how funding has been affected by decision of appeal panel 
    • Crystallized Debt letter is generated and sent to the learner.

  • The appeal panel upholds department position:

    • enters task comments and closes task
    • copies and pastes task comments on to Mobius Notes
    • activates liability case and sets up recovery amounts
    • Crystallized Debt letter is generated and sent to the learner.

Learners may receive up to four notices regarding their overpayment and possible debt:

  1. A Funding Decision letter identifying the assessed liability case, their new eligibility, their right to appeal and the recovery amount once the appeal avenue has been exhausted.

  2. A Funding Decision letter describing the debt and recovery deductions from the learner’s award. If there is a revision of currently scheduled funding, the Funding Decision will also contain the modified payment schedule after reducing the award by the monthly recovery amounts.

  3. A “closure” letter is sent when the learner stops receiving Income Support benefits as a learner (i.e., the learner completes or withdraws from study). The Recoveries system generates a letter advising the learner of the outstanding debt balance and how to make payment. Service Alberta is the new contact.

  4. If payment is not made 40 days after sending the closure letter, Service Alberta sends a “reminder” letter and the individual's debt information is sent to a private collection agency.

    • Inquiries or questions that cannot be responded to by Service Alberta are forwarded to the Learner Income Support Office for clarification or to the Program Compliance and Investigations Unit when appropriate.
    • Items that continue to remain unresolved are forwarded to the Manager, Collections and Medical Benefits, Financial Client Payments and Revenue, Human Services.

If a learner account has been forwarded to a collection agency, Service Alberta is no longer responsible for collecting the debt.

APPROVAL

Learner Benefit Coordinator, LISO

Learner Debt Scenarios Related to IESA Implementation

No Scenario Procedure
1 Learner on or after August 1, 2004 and has outstanding debt(s) that were incurred as ETW/BFE/Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) prior to August 1, 2004. Human Services continues to collect on the closed file that has the ETW/BFE/AISH debt.
2 Learner on or after August 1, 2004 and has outstanding debts that were incurred as a learner prior to August 1, 2004. These previous debt(s) have been forwarded to Service Alberta Finance Collections for collection.
3 Learner prior to August 1, 2004, has debts and becomes ETW/BFE/AISH. Student Aid Alberta collected on the debt(s) and then forwarded to Service Alberta Finance Collections for collection.