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The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) is a financial and health benefit available to residents of Alberta who have a permanent medical disability that prevents them from working.

AISH benefit payments are paid out monthly and the amount varies depending on income, assets, and number of dependent children.

The AISH program has been around since 1979 and it was one of the very first financial assistance programs for the severely handicapped.

Other programs in Alberta for those with disabilities include Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL), Residential Access Modification Program (RAMP), and the Alberta Grant for Students with Disabilities.

Programs similar to AISH in other provinces include the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and the Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID).

What is AISH?

The AISH program provides a mix of health and financial benefits to Albertans who are unable to earn a living as a result of a debilitating or permanent medical condition.

The financial benefits include a:

  • Monthly living allowance
  • Child benefits

If you rent or own a house, you may qualify for a living allowance of $1,685 per month.

For those living in an approved nursing home or auxiliary hospital, a modified living allowance comprising of a personal allowance rate ($322) and accommodation rate (up to $2,074) is provided.

The monthly benefit for dependent children is $200 for the first child and $100 for each additional child.

A variety of health benefits are also available through AISH including:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental services
  • Optical services
  • Diabetic supplies
  • Ambulance services

Eligible individuals can access these benefits using their AISH Health Benefits Card.

AISH Payment Dates 2020

The payment dates for AISH were recently updated to the first of the month. For months where the first day falls on a weekend or holiday, the payment date is the last business day of the previous month.

  • January 28, 2020
  • February 28, 2020
  • April 1, 2020
  • May 1, 2020
  • June 1, 2020
  • June 30, 2020
  • July 31, 2020
  • September 1, 2020
  • October 1, 2020
  • October 30, 2020
  • December 1, 2020
  • December 31, 2020

AISH payments are made via direct deposit to your bank account. To sign up for a direct deposit, you need to complete a Direct Deposit Registration Form and provide it to AISH along with a void cheque.

You can also receive payments via cheque.

Who Qualifies for AISH?

To qualify for AISH, a combination of factors are assessed and you must meet specific age, residency, financial and medical requirements.

Age: You must be at least 18 years of age and not be eligible for Old Age Security (OAS).

Residency: You must be a resident of Alberta and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. In addition, you cannot be incarcerated or live in a mental health facility.

Medical: You must have a severe handicap that significantly impacts your ability to work and earn an income. In general, you should have an impairment that:

  • Affects your mental and/or physical functioning
  • Limits your ability to earn a living
  • Will likely continue to permanently hamper your ability to earn a living

While receiving AISH benefits, you are expected to continue to look for work and utilize available rehabilitation, training, and medical treatment that can help you take on gainful employment.

Financial: Your income and that of your spouse or partner impacts your eligibility for AISH. Income is treated as either exempt, partially exempt, or non-exempt for the purposes of determining your eligibility for AISH.

Exempt income includes income tax refunds, Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) payments, death benefits, cash gifts, and Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) payments.

Non-exempt income includes the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), employment insurance, pension annuities, spousal payments, and Workers’ Compensation Board benefits.

Partially-exempt income includes employment income, self-employment income, passive business income, retirement allowance, spousal income from the CPP, EI, OAS, Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and more.

Your assets and investments are also considered. However, assets such as your primary residence and means of transportation (e.g. a car) are excluded.

To qualify for AISH, your non-exempt assets such as cash, TFSA, RRSP and savings cannot exceed $100,000.

What Disabilities Qualify for AISH?

A medical report is part of the AISH application and it is completed by a physician. Some of the medical conditions listed on the physicians’ guide are:

Neurological disorders: Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, paraplegia, muscular dystrophy, brain injury, dementia, learning disabilities, quadriplegia, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson’s, and other neurological disorders.

Multi-systemic disorders: Cancer, AIDS, connective tissue disorders (e.g. lupus), and other multi-systemic disorders.

Cardiovascular disorders including heart disease, heart attack, and pulmonary embolism.

Respiratory disorders including respiratory disease e.g. COPD, asthma, and sleep disorder.

Musculoskeletal disorders: Arthritis, amputation, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, low back pain syndrome, spinal stenosis, etc.

Gastrointestinal disorders: Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, liver disease such as cirrhosis and hepatitis.

Renal disorders: Kidney disease and chronic renal failure.

Endocrinology disorders: Cystic fibrosis, diabetes, obesity and other endocrinology diseases

Sensory disorders: Blindness, visual impairment, deafness, hearing impairment and other sensory disorders.

Mental health: Psychosis, depression, bipolar mania, anxiety, personality disorder, substance use disorder, PTSD, and other mental illnesses.

The list also includes various cognitive and developmental disorders.

Having one or more of these disabilities/disorders is not a guarantee that you are eligible for AISH. Your medical history, level of impairment, potential treatment options, and prognoses may impact your final assessment.

How To Apply for AISH

To apply for the AISH benefit, complete Part A of the AISH application form and have your physician complete the medical report in Part B.

Submit your completed application form and other documents to AISH by either mailing it to P O Box 17000 Station Main, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4B3, or by faxing it to 1-877-969-3006.

If your application is not approved, you can appeal it in writing within 30 days.

How Much AISH Will You Get?

The basic living allowance is $1,685.

If you are living in an approved hospital or nursing home, the accommodation rate is paid as per the Nursing Homes Operation Regulation, and you receive a personal monthly allowance of $322. The maximum accommodation room rate payable is $2,074 or $68 per day.

AISH recipients who have dependent children receive $200 monthly for the first child and $100 for each additional child.

You are encouraged to work and earn income while on AISH.

As a single individual, you can earn up to $1,072 in employment income per month with no impact on your AISH payments. Income between $1,072 and $2,009 is 50% exempt.

Income exceeding $2,009 per month is clawed back at a rate of 1:1 from your AISH payment.

For a family, up to $2,612 in employment income is exempt when determining your AISH eligibility. income between $2,612 and $3,349 is 50% exempt, and income exceeding $3,349 is subject to a 1:1 clawback of AISH benefits.

AISH recipients can also qualify for additional emergency and personal benefits. Click here for the 2020 list.

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Can you work while on AISH?

AISH recipients can work and earn employment income without losing AISH benefits. For 2020, employment income up to $1,072 is fully exempt for single individuals and up to $2,612 for a family unit.

What happens to AISH when I turn 65?

At age 65, AISH recipients automatically become enrolled for provincial seniors benefits and AISH ends. Recipients may qualify for OAS, GIS, and CPP benefits.

What is the maximum AISH payment?

The maximum living allowance for 2020 is $1,685 per month.

When will AISH increase?

The proposed annual cost of living indexation for AISH was put on hold by the United Conservative Government in 2019 as part of their pledge to eliminate the deficit. This pause will likely be in place until 2023.

Have a question about AISH benefits? Leave them in the comments.