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Frequently asked questions about the Persons with Disabilities designation (PWD)

I do not have a doctor to help complete my application. What do I do?

If you do not have a family doctor that you see regularly, finding one can be hard. You have the option to ask a nurse practitioner to fill out your application. Whether you get help from a doctor or a nurse practitioner, it is a good idea to see them a few times before you ask them to complete the form. It may help if they know you.

Here are a few places to look for a doctor or nurse practitioner:

  • Speak to your local pharmacy or hospital. Ask if they know of any doctors taking on new patients.
  • If you live outside of Vancouver, you can use the Doctors of B.C. website to see if there are any new doctors taking on patients. Note: Sometimes the information on this website is out of date.
  • Go to a walk-in clinic and try to see the same doctor each time you go there.
  • Call the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. to get information about finding a family doctor.
  • Search for a doctor on the British Columbia Doctor Directory.

Do I have to pay for my doctor, nurse, or assessor to fill out the application?

No, the provincial government pays doctors and assessors to do this. Health professionals should not charge you any extra fees.

I do not know any health professionals who can be my assessor. What should I do?

The Ministry will accept only certain professionals as assessors on your PWD application. There is a list of prescribed professionals in the application who can be assessors. If you do not have another health professional who knows you, ask the doctor or nurse who completed Section 2 to complete the assessor section.

What if I am turned down for Persons with Disabilities status?

You have the right to appeal within 20 business days from the day you receive the denial letter. This is called a ‘reconsideration request’. It is a chance to have a new person at the ministry take a second look at your PWD application.

You must get the reconsideration request form from a Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction office. Call them at 1-866-866-0800 as soon as you receive the denial letter. If you need to ask your doctors to provide more information, this will take time. It is best to begin the process right away.

Within about 24 hours, the ministry should put together a reconsideration package for you. It will include:

  • the reconsideration request form
  • a copy of your application
  • any other information that was sent in with your PWD application.

When you send the reconsideration request, you can also send new information. Usually, this means you will talk to your doctor again and ask them to provide more information about the duration and severity of your medical condition.

If you miss the 20 business-day deadline (or are worried you cannot meet the deadline), you can ask the ministry for more time. Ask for an extension on the Request for Reconsideration form, or by contacting the ministry.

Learn more from Disability Alliance BC’s Appealing Denial of the PWD Benefit: The Reconsideration Request help sheet. This is a step-by-step guide on how to complete the Request for Reconsideration form.

Are children eligible for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) status?

No. You must be 18 years old to receive PWD benefits. You can begin the PWD application process up to six months before your 18th birthday.

Is the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation permanent? Will I be asked to re-apply for PWD status in the future?

Although PWD status is not permanent, the current ministry practice is not to ask people to re-apply for PWD. In other words, you will not be asked to complete another 28-page application.

Do I have to be on income assistance before I apply for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) status?

Yes, you need to apply for income assistance before you can apply for PWD) status. But you do not need to be getting money from income assistance. You have to apply for income assistance so that the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction can check your financial eligibility before you apply. In some cases, the ministry may not allow you to get income assistance, but still decide that you could be under the income threshold to apply for PWD.

See an example

For example, if your income is over $935 per month (the current welfare rate), but under $1,358 (the current PWD rate), or if your assets are over $5,000, but are under $100,000, then you are allowed to apply for PWD.

In all cases, you must go through the income assistance application process before applying for PWD. For more information, see Disability Alliance B.C.’s Help Sheet 12A or contact an advocacy group at the ‘I need help’ section of the website.

I am a single person with more than $100,000 in assets. Can I still apply for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) status?

In some situations, you can. For example, if you have no income, you are living on your savings, and you expect your assets to be under $100,000 in a few months, then you should be allowed to apply.

How long does it take for the ministry to make a decision about my PWD application?

It is not unusual for the ministry to take two months or more to decide on your PWD eligibility.

Can PWD applications be fast-tracked?

The Ministry can sometimes do this. If you have a grave medical condition, it is important to let the Ministry know. Ask them to expedite the application when you submit it and explain why.

What province are you from?

Knowing your province helps us make this tool the best experience for you.

Important information about benefits for Indigenous Peoples

If you are Indigenous there are many things that affect the benefits you can get and the dollar amounts you can get from them. These include the agreements your band or governing body has with provincial, territorial, and federal governments. Before applying to any benefits, you should speak with your governing body, if applicable.

AFOA Canada and Prosper Canada are currently seeking funding to develop an online tool that serves the needs of Indigenous people living in Canada.