Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped

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The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) is the legal name of a social welfare program and service offered only in Alberta, Canada, to nearly 46,000 Albertans.[1]

The AISH Act legislation, proclaimed on May 1, 2007, and updated as of November 1, 2010, defines a "severe handicap" as "adult Albertans with a permanent disability that severely impairs their ability to earn a living." The legal definition in the legislation defines "severe handicap" as an impairment of mental or physical functioning or both that, in the AISH director's findings, causes substantial limitation in the person's ability to earn a livelihood. Also, he/she is likely to continue to be affected permanently because no remedial therapy is available that would materially improve the person's ability to earn a regular livelihood. The final decision on a client's file status is made by the AISH director, after receiving any relevant medical or psychological reports from a qualified health professional(s).[2]


The AISH program, established in 1979, provides financial and health related assistance to eligible adult Albertans with a disability. AISH was the first program in the country designed for the permanently disabled. It was unique as there were no asset limits. In 1998, a $100,000 assets limit was introduced to AISH, as politicians became concerned over "millionaires" on the program.[3]

In the 2004 provincial election, AISH was the subject of some controversy following supposedly derogatory remarks made by Premier Ralph Klein, stating, of a group of AISH recipients, "they didn't look handicapped to me."[4]

After winning the 2012 Alberta provincial election, Premier Alison Redford decided to shift the ministry responsible for the AISH program, from Seniors (to which it is now part of the new Health ministry) to the new Human Services ministry. On April 1st of 2012 Allison Redford and the Government of Alberta increase the AISH amount to $1,588.00.

In 2018 Bill 26 was passed, AISH was increased to $1,685 and a cost of living adjustment was added.

Bill 26 can be found at


The benefits listed below for AISH recipients can be all or partially given to each client, based on need and on the discretion of the AISH Director. Also, as long as the AISH client has personal total net assets of less than C$100,000 (NOT including the assets of the primary residence AND mode of transportation, like a car), these benefits can be given to him/her.[2] To verify that the AISH benefits are given to the properly-selected clients, an honor system financial update must be given to his/her assigned AISH worker every calendar year. In other words, the AISH recipient must declare any monetary assets (like a savings account, bonds, etc.) and a given month's bank statements of transactions, in which an AISH base amount was deposited into.

A client can receive income from the national Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits, while receiving the AISH monthly income and its health benefits. The CPP amount is deducted, dollar-for-dollar from the AISH benefit.[5] When the AISH client reaches the minimum age of 65 for receiving full CPP, all AISH benefits terminate and the client's file is permanently closed.

Monthly Income[edit]

As of Dec 19th, 2018, and in accordance with Bill 26, the AISH rate will be $1,685 per month. This new amount is arrived at after applying a cost of living adjustment covering the period of May 2015 to Dec 2018. As of Jan 1 2020 the cost of living amount will be reapplied, in that year, and in each successive year.

In addition to this monthly payment, a recipient can receive net employment income up to C$1072 per month without his/her AISH income being affected. For families, the amount is up to a net income of C$2,612 per month.[1]

For a client making net employment income between C$1,072 and C$2,009 a month, there is a 50% exemption of AISH income, for the maximum total income (employment + AISH) of C$2,835 a month. For families, the same 50% exemption applies to those making between C$1,950 to C$2,500 net income, for that maximum total income of C$3,910 a month.[6]

Monthly Income Comparisons[edit]

Along with AISH in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario have basically similar income support for persons with disabilities programs. In B.C. it is called the British Columbia Employment & Assistance for Persons with Disabilities (BCEA); the Ontario equivalent is called the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP); the Saskatchewan equivalent is called Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID). The B.C. program gives their individual clients C$906 ($931+$52 cash or bus pass since sept 1 2016) a month; the Ontario program provides theirs C$1,098 a month; the Saskatchewan program gives $931-$1064 a month (amount depends on which city the person lives in).[1]

Note a person who has a combination of AISH with a CPP disablity claw back amount should check with the Canada pension plan regarding deductions of earned income.

AISH ends at 65[edit]

Several months before AISH ends, at the age of 65, applications should be made for all available pensions. Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement can be calculated by visiting the following Government of Canada website. Note. AISH also expects an individual to collect any pension that is available before the age of 65 and then report this pension to AISH.

The old age security amount for a single person, who has met the resident requirements for full old age security, is currently $585.49 per month. If a person has no other income, then the Guaranteed Income Supplement will be an additional $874.48 per month. These two amounts total to $1,459.97 per month. Conditions for full old age security can be found at the following Government of Canada website.

If a person worked and became disabled, the CPP calculations available through the CRA login for individuals may not be correct. If a person does receive the CPP disability pension a further calculation must be made to account for the years a person was disabled.

Pension Calculator[edit]

First estimate your expected yearly income after the age of 65, excluding OAS and the GIS. Reference your income estimate to the combined OAS-GIS pensions on the following Government of Canada link.

Examples of calculations A single woman, Kathy, has a small work pension which pays her $2,400 yearly. Kathy can expect a combined OAS (Old Age Security) GIS (Guaranteed Income Supplement) of $1,351.97 per month.

A single man, David, retires but earns $12,000 a year part time. He could expect a combined OAS + GIS of $824.53 per month.

Please note, conditions such as time in Canada and Marital status can effect these calculations. If requirements are meet, and no other income is available, then a person can expect $1,459.97 per month as a minimum.

Health Benefits[edit]

The following sections below are the main essential benefits an AISH recipient can have access to, along with the base monthly payment.[7]

Prescription Medications[edit]

Most prescription medications are paid for by AISH benefits. The majority of what a doctor will prescribe, from common antibiotics, to such medications as Ritalin and Zyprexa, is covered by AISH. However, there are medications, generally, although not always, newer medications, that are not covered by the benefits. Medication coverage is decided upon by a government committee.[8]

Dental Coverage[edit]

AISH allows for a bi-yearly, (every 6 months) dental checkup and cleaning. In addition to this, AISH benefits also cover necessary fillings.[8]

Optical Coverage[edit]

AISH allows one routine eye exam and a new pair of eyeglasses every 2 years.[8]

Essential Diabetic Supplies[edit]

For AISH recipients that need diabetic supplies to manage their diabetes.[8] A dietary amount(roughly $41.00) can be granted for those who require a special diet.

Ambulance Service[edit]

AISH benefits will cover fees for ground ambulance service to the nearest hospital which can provide the medical treatment required.[8]

Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL)[edit]

AISH clients are exempt from paying their cost portion of items, subject to AADL approval.[8][9]

Subsidized Transit[edit]

Five cities and towns and one county in Alberta currently have subsidized transit options available to AISH recipients. All transit systems involved require that AISH clients verify their status as current AISH recipients, before he/she is given a subsidized monthly pass.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Government increases AISH benefit by $400 per month". Government of Alberta. February 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
  2. ^ a b "ASSURED INCOME FOR THE SEVERELY HANDICAPPED ACT". Government of Alberta. Retrieved 2012-02-29.
  3. ^ Béland, Daniel; Daigneault, Pierre-Marc (2015). Welfare Reform in Canada: Provincial Social Assistance in Comparative Perspective. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442609747.
  4. ^ "'Severely normal' people don't want to talk about AISH: Klein". CBC News. October 29, 2004. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  6. ^ "AISH Employment Income" (PDF). Government of Alberta. April 1, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions (Health Benefits)". Government of Alberta. Archived from the original on 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Health Benefits Tip Sheet" (PDF). Government of Alberta. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-12-25. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  9. ^ "Alberta Aids to Daily Living (AADL)". Government of Alberta. Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. Retrieved 2012-02-10.

External links[edit]