Section 15 - Unearned Income

Policies

Overpayment Recovery and/or Garnishment of Federal Employment Insurance (EI) and/or Canada Pension Plan Benefits (PDF 208 KB) 

Unearned Income - Procedures for Treatment (PDF 140 KB)

15.1.1 Unearned Income

"Unearned Income" is defined as all income received by an applicant or participant except wages and net revenue from farm or business operations and hence is totally available for current maintenance. Certain exemptions are defined in Section 15.2.1.
 

15.1.2 Common Sources of Unearned Income

Settlements or Agreements

Settlements or agreements include monies received under terms of maintenance orders, parents' maintenance orders, separation orders, court orders, divorce decrees, inheritance, life insurance, accident claims, net amount of Employment Insurance, net amount of Employment and Training allowances. Settlements or agreements may produce lump sum payments as well as ongoing unearned income.
 

Pensions

Examples of pension benefits are:
Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Spouse's Allowance, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Department of Veteran's Affairs pensions and allowances, Criminal Injuries Compensation, Workers Compensation, Blind and Persons with Disabilities Allowance, funds assisting persons with mental disabilities, private pension plan benefits and other retirement, disability or survivors' payments.
"Pension" implies an ongoing source of income. In some circumstances, arrears or adjustment payments may be received in a lump sum.
 

Income from Assets

Revenue from real or personal property includes proceeds from the sale, transfer or investment of assets. Unearned income from assets may be received in a lump sum or as ongoing income.
 

15.2.1 Unearned Income to be Exempted from Resources

Policy

 
In accordance with section 8(1)(b) of the Regulation, income from the following sources may be exempted from calculations of financial resources available for current maintenance:
  1. Foster Home Maintenance Payments as per section 8(1)(b)(ii);  
  2. Canada Child Tax Benefit, including any amount received under the National Child Benefit Supplement or the Child Disability Benefit;
  3. Tax Credits as per sections 8(1)(b)(i), (iii), (vii) and (xviii) of the Regulation;
  4. Start-up and Operating Grants for providers of family child care under Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care (formerly MCCP) as per section 8(1)(b)(iv);
  5. All Canada Student Grants issued to participants taking part in education as part of their approved action plan, as per Subclause 8(1)(a)(xvii) of the Regulation.
NOTE: For exemptions and treatment of earned income see section 16.
 

15.2.2 Treatment of Unearned Income at Application

 In accordance with section 8(2.1) of the Regulation, funds from sources set out in section 8(1)(b) of the the Regulation available at the time of application shall be considered financial resources, with amounts in excess of the liquid asset limits available to help meet the current need. 
 
After enrolment, in accordance with section 8(2.2) and section 8(1)(b) of the Regulation, income received shall be exempt in the month in which it is received. Up to four months after receipt of the exempted income, funds may be allowed for the participant to expend monies in excess of the liquid asset provision. At the discretion of the director or designate, an extension up to one year may be granted. Once the exemption period has expired, income that remains unexpended is subject to the liquid asset limits set out in section 8(1)(a) of the Regulation.

Ongoing unearned income (e.g. child maintenance, Canada Pension Plan Retirement or Disability, Employment Insurance, etc) received by participants in the current calendar month is to be applied against EIA financial eligibility for the following benefit month. 

However, if this income is assigned (at the point of EIA application or after enrollment ) and if benefits are processed in the final month but no amount is payable (due to other income), amounts recovered by MEP after termination of the assignment will be determined by comparing the household’s income assistance benefits released in the last month where income assistance was paid, with amounts set out in the court order or enforceable private agreement and recovering whichever amount is less. 

15.2.3 (deleted)

 

15.2.4 Definition of Final and Ongoing Unearned Income

At intake, the treatment of unearned income is determined by whether it is final or ongoing.
 

Final unearned income

Unearned income ended prior to the case effective date (CED). Any remaining resources are subject to the liquid asset provision.
 

Ongoing unearned income

Unearned income ceases after the CED. The unearned income is considered to be an available resource.
Subject to existing policy (see section 6.4.13 for "Effective Date of Assistance"), the CED is normally the date of application.
 

15.2.5 Treatment of Final Unearned Income

At intake, when final unearned income is reported (i.e., ended prior to the CED), the income assistance entitlement in the month of application will be prorated from the CED (see section 6.4.13). The remaining resources from the final unearned income will be subject to the liquid asset provision.
 
For example:
Application September 16
Income assistance budget $1,000
Final unearned income, September 10
Income assistance entitlement upon enrolment:
September income assistance (prorated @ 50%) $500
Less:
Final unearned income remaining (subject to liquid asset provision) (amount exempt)
September income assistance entitlement $500
 
The full amount of assistance will be issued for the next month.
 

15.2.6 Treatment of Ongoing Unearned Income

A. At intake

When ongoing unearned income is received (i.e., continues after the CED), the assistance entitlement in the month of application will be determined by prorating the income assistance budget, less the prorated unearned income (based on the previous month's unearned income), subject to the policy on effective date of assistance.
 
For example:
Application September 16
Income assistance budget $1,000
Ongoing unearned income continues @ $800. per month
Income assistance entitlement upon enrolment:
September income assistance (prorated @ 50%) $500
Less:
Ongoing unearned income (prorated @ 50%) -$400
(based on previous month, August $800.)
September income assistance entitlement $100
 
NOTE SAMIN will prorate the assistance and the unearned income.
 

B. During enrolment

While the unearned income is ongoing, the monthly income assistance entitlement will be determined by the income assistance budget less the unearned income (based on the previous month's unearned income).
 
For example:
Income assistance entitlement during a month(s) unearned income is received:
Monthly income assistance $1,000
Less:
Ongoing monthly unearned income -$800
(based on previous month, $800)
Income assistance entitlement while unearned income is ongoing $200
 

C. Additional assistance when ongoing unearned income decreases or ends

The income assistance budget is calculated monthly based on the previous month’s earnings and unearned income. In the month that a participant is no longer receiving unearned income, the current budget continues to be based on the previous month’s income. This may result in participants having an immediate need for funds that may exceed the amount for which they are eligible. In these situations, caseworkers may review the situation with their Community Social Service Supervisors or EIA Rural Program Managers, who may contact the Minister’s designated for further direction.
 

D. Unearned Income exceeds EIA budget resulting in an income overage

When a file is in income overage due to unearned income exclusively (not a combination of earned and unearned income) the file should be closed immediately. Section 16.3.7 contains information on the exit point policy that should be applied to cases with employment earnings. Eligibility for health only benefits should be determined in accordance with section 22.1.11. Should an individual re-apply for assistance in or following the month that their file was closed, an individual reassessment of circumstances should be done to determine if financial eligibility exists.
 

15.2.7 Age of Majority Allowance

Funds are provided by Child and Family Services agencies to children leaving care at 18 years of age. The amount provided for each individual is at the discretion of the individual agencies.
 
Depending on the child's circumstances, funds may be designated to purchase goods or services, contribute to rental costs and/or may be a lump sum payment. Since these funds are intended to facilitate the young adult's transition to independent living and the monies may be available for three months prior to or one month, subsequent to the eighteenth birthday, it is anticipated that the monies will have been expended at the time of an income assistance application. Therefore, these monies would be considered either as an available resource or as an exempted item.
 

15.2.8 Lump Sum Payments - Liquid Asset Provisions

When certain types of unearned income are received as a lump sum, all or part may be regarded as an exempted liquid asset and therefore not available for current maintenance. Examples of such types of unearned income are:
  1. cash replacements for material assets lost and not to be replaced. Loss might be a result of sale, transfer, fire or theft;
  2. lump sum compensation for injury, disability, retirement or death, as long as the lump sum is not part of an ongoing stream of pension income. Funeral costs normally have first claim on items such as death benefits and life insurance, and so such lump sum payments received by survivors receiving income assistance should be reduced accordingly prior to applying provisions noted; and
  3. inheritances and windfalls not subject to some other facet of policy such as some parts of trust policy.
When lump sums of these kinds are received by an income assistance household, the following procedures shall apply:
  1. Determine whether or not the household is below its liquid asset exemption limit.
  2. If the household is below the limit, then include as much of the lump sum in the household's liquid assets as is possible without exceeding the liquid asset exemption level.
  3. Any amount of the lump sum that remains after applying the liquid asset exemption must be treated as completely available to reduce current assistance or to reduce an outstanding overpayment.
A lump sum payment received as an age of majority allowance from a child-caring agency should be assessed in accordance with the established policy detailed in section 15.2.7 entitled "Age of Majority Allowance".
 
Unearned income in lump sums, other than the kinds noted above, are not subject to whole or partial exclusion from available resources under liquid asset exemption provisions. These other sources of lump sums might be maintenance, training allowances, insurance for income lost and various kinds of ongoing private and public pensions such as the Canada Pension Plan.
 

15.2.9 Deemed Income from Transferred or Assigned Property / Windfalls

Where, in the Director's opinion, property has been transferred or assigned for less than market value or liquid assets have been depleted to establish eligibility for Employment and Income Assistance (EIA), District Directors may deem an income that normally would have been earned by the asset if it had been invested. An inadequate return may be identified when property is sold for an amount that is clearly less than market value and for which it is reasonable to assume a greater return could have been realized. For example, if an applicant/participant owns property with a current market value of $20,000.00 but sells it for $10,000.00, and similar properties in the region are selling for $20,000.00, it is fair to assume that an inadequate return was realized.
 
The deeming of income applies as well to situations where participants dispose of liquid assets in order to retain or establish eligibility. An example of such a situation could be a participant who wins $10,000.00 and gives away $6,000.00 to a family member and keeps his or her allowable liquid asset of $4,000.00. In this case, the Director may consider the $6,000.00 as deemed income.
 
To establish the monthly rate of deemed unearned income that will be entered on the MUIN screen in SAMIN, the total deemed income must be multiplied by the current interest rate and then divided by 12 months. The current interest rate established is 2.96 per cent (effective January 2019).
 

15.3.1 Income-In-Kind

Income-in-kind includes payment in goods (usually ongoing) for services rendered, and is considered 100% available as income. Such payments should be given a reasonable value and calculated as income at this value. Examples of income-in-kind would be provision of basic necessities (e.g., shelter, food and clothing).
 

15.3.2 Income from Benevolent Organizations

Such unearned income should be taken into account in relation to the need for which it is designated.
 

15.3.3 Children Operating Family Farm

If a child of the applicant or participant lives at home on a full or part-time basis and operates the farm mainly for his or her own gain, the farm should be considered as rented. The family's income for current maintenance should be considered to be 1/3 of the farm's gross revenue there from; or, he or she should be expected to supply the family with basic necessities and services of equal value.
 
In this situation, income from the farm operation should not be considered "earned" by the applicant or participant, or in any way subject to calculation under the farm formula or other net revenue calculations. 
 

15.4.1 Legislative Authority

Section 1 of The Manitoba Assistance Act requires that calculations of the financial resources of the applicant or participant shall include "net income" from "real and personal property." This section of the manual details policies essential to calculating revenue from property.
 

15.4.2 Attributing Income to Shared Property

In a case where a participant shares his or her own accommodation or real property with others not legally dependent, it is necessary to define the nature of the arrangement and calculate the appropriate income due to the participant.
 
In accordance with section 4(5) of the Regulation, where the applicant or participant or dependant of the applicant or participant refuses to charge appropriately for shared accommodation or real property use, the director or designate of EIA should estimate some minimum income as available to the applicant or participant.
 

15.4.3 Ineligible Children Living at Home

Ineligible children living at home after their eighteenth birthday should be encouraged to seek vocational training, or pursue actively all possible means of self-support.
 
However, there is no legal authority for attributing income to a person if none actually exists. An income assistance family must not be subject to a deduction as per board and room income policy (see section 15.4.4 below) unless the child living at home has an income.
 

15.4.4 Board and Room Income

Where the applicant or participant provides board and room to another person, gross board and room income must be declared and 30% of this income shall be considered available as net property revenue, or unearned income.
 
The remaining 70% of board and room income shall be exempted from all calculations of the applicant or participant's entitlement under sections 8(1) and 8(2) of the Regulation.
 
Board and room income is not to be assessed in the case of full-time students under 18 who continue to reside with their income assistance families unless the student's earnings are excessive or the family chooses to establish such a relationship.
 

15.4.5 Income from Roomers or Rental of Partially Self-Contained Quarters

Where the applicant or participant rents some partially self-contained portion of his or her residence to roomers or tenants, gross rental payments received must be declared and 90% of this income shall be considered available as Net Property Revenue, or unearned income.
 
The remaining 10% of such income shall be exempted from all calculations of the applicant's or participant's entitlement in accordance with sections 8(1) and 8(2) of the Regulation.
 

15.4.6 Rental Income from Self-Contained Quarters

Where the applicant or participant rents self-contained quarters or any other form of property for which maintenance costs are allowed in testing his or her eligibility for EIA, 100% of all income resulting shall be considered unearned and available for current maintenance.
 

15.4.7 Net Revenue from Excess Property

Where a participant owns property in excess of his or her residential and such property is deemed a source of revenue, net income shall be calculated by deducting from the gross any mortgage payments, taxes and costs of essential upkeep requirement (see sections 14.1.1 to 14.1.5 for policies on real property).
 
It should be noted that in such cases all assistance granted beyond the first four months is subject to special case approval.
 

15.5.1 Maximum Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Benefits

Policy

Assignment of Benefits (PDF 117 KB)

2018 2019
Retirement Pension $1,134.17 $1,154.58
Disability Benefits
Disability Pension
 
$1,335.83
$1,362.30
Disabled Contributor's Child's Benefit $244.64 $250.27
Survivors' Benefits
Death Benefit
$2,500.00
$2,500.00
Surviving Spouse's Monthly Pension:
Under age 65
Age 65 and over
$614.62
$680.50
$626.63
$692.75
Orphan's Monthly Benefit $244.64 $250.27
 
Where a beneficiary is entitled to less than maximum CPP benefit rates, individual income verifications must be obtained from appropriate CPP authorities.
 

15.5.2 Maximum Monthly OAS / GIS Benefits

Status   October 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018 January 1, 2019 – March 31, 2019
OAS GIS Total OAS GIS Total
Single Pensioner $600.85 $897.42 $1,498.27 $601.45 $898.32 $1,499.77
Married - Both Pensioners $600.85 $540.23 $1,141.08 each $601.45 $540.77 $1,142.22
Married - One Pensioner, One Non-Pensioner $600.85 $897.42 $1,498.27 $601.45 $898.32 $1,499.77
Married - One Pensioner, One 60-64 Years $600.85 $540.23 $1,141.08 each $601.45 $540.77 $1,142.22
Surviving Spouse (Extended SPA) $1,360.20 $1,361.56
 

15.5.3 Maximum War Veterans Allowance Rates

Maximum Monthly Income Level
Status Oct. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018 Jan. 1 - Mar. 31, 2019
Single $1,619.61 $1,621.23
Single Widow/Widower $1,619.61 $1,621.23
Blind Persons:  Single or Widow/Widower $1,679.74 $1,681.42
Widow/Widower with one child $2,413.64 $2,416.05
Married $2,413.64 $2,416.05
Married and blind or whose spouse or common-law partner is blind $2,473.57 $2,476.04
Additional for each dependent child $256.87 $257.13
Each Orphan $769.73 $770.50
Married - separated for health reasons $3,239.22 $3,242.46
 

15.6.1 Assignment of Unearned Income - Legislative Authority

Section 12.1(2) of the Regulation requires participants to make reasonable efforts to obtain the maximum amount of compensation or benefits that may be available to them under another Act or program.
 
Temporary assistance may be provided while a participant is waiting to receive a benefit from another program. Section 12.1(3) provides the authority for the EIA program to request a participant to assign, to the Department, sufficient monies to recover the assistance that would not have been paid had the benefit been available immediately.
 
Section 12.1(4) provides the authority to deny, suspend, discontinue or reduce assistance should the participant not agree to the assignment.
 

15.6.2 Policy

The process of assigning benefits reinforces participant's pursuit of benefits from other sources that may reduce or eliminate their dependence on assistance. When it is anticipated that it would reduce both the opportunity for duplicate payments and the need for recovery of overpayments, participants or their dependants may be requested to assign benefits to the Department.
 
The anticipated income must be assignable under another Act, agreement or program for the Department to recover funds. An assignment may only be requested for funds from another source that were to be paid for a period in which the person is receiving assistance. The most common types of benefits are Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan benefits.
 
When completing "Section C – Confirmation of Social Assistance" on the assignment of benefits form, staff are to include in the calculation the following amount which is equal to the estimated Pharmacare deductible:
  • Single general assistance cases or childless couples – the first $145.00 of drug expenses
  • Two adult families with any number of children – the first $100.00 of drug expenses
  • Single Disability – the first $215.00 of drug expenses
  • Single parents with any number of children – the first $140.00 of drug expenses.
A Pharmacare deductible must be claimed each calendar year and a full calendar year deductible is included in any part year calculations as Pharmacare does not prorate.
 
The balance of drug expenses in excess of the Pharmacare deductible paid by EIA are to be excluded from the calculation and not recovered.
 
All other health costs (dental and optical) are to be included in the calculation.
 

15.6.3 Obligation to Pursue Benefits Available Under Other Acts or Programs

Under section 12.1(2) of the Regulation, applicants must make reasonable efforts to obtain the maximum amount of benefits available to them under other Acts or programs, including the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Benefits, and Employment Insurance.

 

Application for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Benefits

Participants eligible for CPP benefits are expected to apply to receive them at age 60.
 

15.6.4 Requirement for Assignment of Benefits

Form

Assignment of Workers Compensation Benefits (PDF 108 KB)

An assignment of benefits is required in all cases where eligibility for EIA would not have existed had the income from the other department or program been received by the participant.
 
Where the participant is eligible for EIA regardless of the availability of the other resource, the request for assignment of benefits is at the discretion of the director or designate. In these situations, duplicate assistance may be avoided either through an assignment of benefits or through declaration of the receipt of these benefits on a monthly Income Declaration Form.
 
A new assignment of benefits is required for CPP(D) when an applicant reapplies to EIA due to the fact that they had to discontinue employment as a result of their disability.
 

15.6.5 Agreement to Assign Benefits

Policy

Form

 
Participants must be advised that, except for maintenance payments that have not been defaulted on or reduced, they are required to assign benefits such as Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance (EI), and that failure to do so may affect their EIA payment. The assignment process depends on the Act, agreement or program under which the benefit is provided.
 
For maintenance income, EIA participants must immediately inform the department if a breakdown in maintenance payments occurs. Where a request for emergency assistance to offset a maintenance payment breakdown is made, or payment amounts are not being received consistently, participants are required to assign future maintenance payments to the department via the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP).
 
The participant must give written consent to EIA which agrees to the assignment, permits the release of any information required by the department and authorizes the payments to be made to the department by MEP. This consent must be given at the same time, or before the individual receives the EIA payment so that payment and subsequent payments can be recoverable.
 

15.6.6 Refusal to Assign Benefits

With the exception of participants with maintenance income, participants who are required to assign benefits but refuse to do so will not be enrolled until an assignment of benefits is signed. For those participants who are already enrolled and who refuse to assign unearned income when required to do so, will have their benefits reduced by the value of unassigned income or monthly income assistance, whichever is less, to allow participants an opportunity to reconsider. If, after one month, participants still refuse to assign the benefits required of them, assistance will be denied.
 
For participants with maintenance income who report a breakdown, or reduction in the amount of their maintenance payments and who refuse to assign future maintenance income through MEP, EIA will not consider emergency assistance to replace these unpaid amounts. However, upon assigning future maintenance amounts through MEP effective the date of the maintenance breakdown, the department will provide backdated, non-recoverable income assistance to the participant from the point of maintenance payment breakdown.
 
Participants must be advised, in writing, of the reason for the decision to deny assistance and of their right to appeal.
 

15.7.1 Spousal Maintenance and Child Support Benefits

Policy

 
For convenience in this section, both spousal maintenance and child support are referred to as "maintenance".
 

Assessment of Maintenance Status

Participants who have a maintenance agreement or order, or who may be required to seek maintenance, must have their maintenance status assessed using the EIA Family Maintenance Plan.
 
Factors that are assessed include:
  • whether participants have an agreement or order and if they are regularly receiving payments;
  • whether court orders are registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP);
  • if participants who do not have an order or an agreement are required to seek maintenance;
  • if the obligation to seek maintenance should be waived (see 15.7.2 Waiving The Necessity to Seek Maintenance");
  • whether maintenance will be assigned and steps to assign it (see 15.7.6 Assignment of Maintenance to the Maintenance Enforcement Program; and
  • if the amount of maintenance appears to be inadequate (see 15.7.3 Inadequate Agreements or Orders).
 

15.7.2 Waiving the Necessity to Seek Maintenance

When an agreement or order does not exist and the participant is unwilling to seek an order, then the worker must investigate and document reasons for the participant's reluctance to act. The Family Maintenance Plan may be used to support this activity.
 
In general, a situation is considered not to be worthwhile to require pursuit of maintenance if one of the following circumstances exists:
  • the potential debtor is no longer living;
  • the paternity of the children is not clearly established;
  • the potential debtor is receiving income assistance;
  • the potential debtor’s whereabouts are unknown and are likely to remain unknown;
  • the potential debtor is physically or mentally unfit, or is incarcerated for more than two years; or
  • there is reason to believe that pursuit of an agreement or order would lead to a violent response against the participant by the potential debtor.
 

15.7.3 Inadequate Agreements or Orders

Some participants with private agreements may be receiving maintenance in amounts that are lower than those set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Staff are to discuss with participants the requirement to pursue a variation of the support order to bring amounts more in line with these guidelines. Participants may approach Legal Aid to assist at no charge with the support order variation. However, the value of pursuing a variation to an existing support order/private agreement depends upon the circumstances and resources of the potential debtor (see Section 15.7.2).
 
Should participants approach the department at any point seeking emergency assistance to offset a missed, late, or reduced payment, the department views this as a breakdown in the payment conditions outlined in the support order/private agreement. In these instances, this maintenance income must be assigned via MEP.
 
Where participants do obtain a new order, or vary an existing order, a notarized copy of the order, along with a new Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement form must be faxed to the MEP office at 204-945-5449.
 

15.7.4 Obtaining an Agreement or Order

Participants may make an informal/private agreement with the debtor; they may seek a formal agreement, drawn up by legal counsel; or, they may obtain a court order.
 
In order to assist participants to seek a formal agreement or a court order, the worker should make appropriate referrals. Referrals can be made, depending upon the needs and location of the participant, to the local Legal Aid Offices.
 
See section 6.15 regarding the provision of Legal Aid services to participants.
 

15.7.5 Maintenance Income

Policy

Changes to Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) Maintenance-Related Policies and Procedures (PDF 174 KB)

Termination of Assignment/Enforcement (PDF 111 KB)

Forms

Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement (PDF 223 KB)

Assignment of Support Arrears Accumulated  (PDF 202 KB)

Assignment of Support Arrears ACCU Mulated (PDF 121 KB)

Family Maintenance Plan (PDF 310 KB)

Private Support Agreement (PDF 82 KB)

Request for Information (PDF 554 KB)

Termination of Maintenance Enforcement Program Assignment of Benefits Calculation Sheet (PDF 255 KB)

Types of agreements and orders

Agreements and orders include maintenance orders, maintenance agreements, parents' maintenance orders, filiation orders, filiation agreements, child support orders, private support agreements, separation orders, separation agreements, divorce decrees and similar mechanisms defining financial support.
 

Treatment of Maintenance Income

As a requirement of eligibility, all financial resources must be considered in processing applications for assistance, including the legal entitlement and potential for support from applicants' spouses, partners or other parents of their children. The Family Maintenance Plan is to be used to determine if participants are required to pursue maintenance income, or if this obligation is to be temporarily or permanently waived (see Section 15.7.2). It can also help determine if this income may be administered within the participants’ monthly income assistance budget, or if it must be assigned to EIA via the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). However, income assistance must not be withheld in order to pressure applicants or participants without a support order/private agreement to seek maintenance.

See section 15.2.6 for a description of the "Treatment of Ongoing Unearned Income".
 

Failure to notify EIA of the existence of a maintenance agreement or order

If participants fail to notify the department of an order or agreement that was in effect at any time during receipt of assistance from EIA, payments under the order will be calculated as income for the period covered by the order. In order to calculate the amount of maintenance as income, definitive proof that the payments were made is required such as the existence of cancelled cheques or bank statements showing the maintenance deposits. Under these circumstances, participants must have their future maintenance payments assigned to the department via MEP.
 

15.7.6 Assignment of Maintenance Through the Maintenance Enforcement Program

Participants have the choice whether or not they wish to assign their maintenance to the department, unless their maintenance agreement breaks down and they have difficulty in collecting unassigned maintenance and need to request additional assistance from the program.
 

Maintenance not assigned

If participants choose not to assign their maintenance, the amount of maintenance payments set out in agreements or orders that is received during the current calendar month is assessed against financial benefits for the following benefit month (see Section 15.2.2 or 15.2.3).  

This option may remain in effect providing the maintenance income continues to be paid/received regularly.  However, at the point this income is not paid, or is paid in amounts less than what is identified in the agreement or order, a breakdown of the maintenance payment agreement is defined as occurring (see Section 15.7.3). 
 

Unassigned maintenance that is not being paid

If maintenance payments cease, or are not being received in amounts identified in the private agreement or support order, this is considered a breakdown in maintenance. The Family Maintenance Plan is to be used to determine if circumstances warrant the temporary or permanent waiver of the participants’ obligation to pursue maintenance income (see Section 15.7.2).

Where the obligation to pursue maintenance has not been waived, and where participants approach the department for emergency assistance to offset unpaid maintenance, maintenance income must be assigned to the department. Staff are to take the following steps:
 
  • a copy of support order initialed by the participant and the Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement Form initialed by the case worker should be forwarded to MEP;
  • in the case of a private agreement that has a MEP enforcement clause, a copy of the private agreement initialed by the participant should be forwarded to MEP along with the Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement Form completed by the worker.
  • in the case of an agreement that does not have a MEP enforcement clause, staff may encourage the participant to complete the sanctioned Private Support Agreement form where appropriate so that it may be used to support the assignment of maintenance through MEP.
 

Maintenance Income Assigned via Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)

Maintenance may be assigned when a formal support agreement, a court order or a private support agreement exists. Some participants may choose to have their ongoing maintenance income assigned to the department via MEP to help with better monthly budgeting. Alternatively, where there is a breakdown in the maintenance payments arrangements between the EIA participant (i.e. creditor) and the debtor, maintenance income must be assigned through MEP.  In either instance, upon the completion of the MEP assignment of benefits, participants are to be provided with their unadjusted monthly income assistance benefits.   MEP will redirect amounts collected from the debtor to the department on a monthly basis to recover income assistance paid out to the participant for the period the assignment of benefits was in effect. 

To assign maintenance to the department, the participant completes the Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement form which allows maintenance payments to be registered with MEP.

If participants who have assigned maintenance to the department subsequently cancel the assignment, EIA will automatically deduct the maintenance amounts as per the order or agreement from monthly income assistance effective the date that the MEP assignment was terminated.
 

Additional Lump-Sum Maintenance Income Received

In addition to maintenance payments that are being applied against the EIA participant’s monthly budgets, or that are assigned via MEP, lump-sum maintenance payments (e.g. for maintenance arrears owing) may also be received by the participant.  These amounts are to be viewed as an available financial resource that must be assessed against the household’s ongoing financial eligibility following standing unearned income policy (see Section 15.2.3).   

 

Termination of Maintenance Assignments

The EIA participant may terminate assigned maintenance payments at any time, unless these amounts have been assigned as a result of a maintenance payment breakdown (see Section 15.6.5). Where the participant continues to require income assistance, maintenance amounts received are to be deducted from ongoing monthly income assistance amounts.

Where maintenance is to be terminated due to the participant no longer requiring income assistance as a result of employment income or other financial resources, the assignment with MEP should be terminated effective the last day of the month in which the participant received income assistance benefits and not the date in which the file closed.

Staff are to complete the Termination of Assignment/Enforcement section of the Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement form, including identifying the date in which last income assistance benefits were received, and fax it to MEP at 204-945-5449.

If benefits are processed in the final month but no amount is payable (due to other income), amounts recovered by MEP after termination of the assignment will be determined by comparing the household’s income assistance benefits released in the last month where income assistance was paid, with amounts set out in the court order or enforceable private agreement and recovering whichever amount is less
 

Collection of Maintenance Arrears That Have Been Assigned

Once the participant is self-sufficient, maintenance payments previously made to MEP are sent directly to the participant. MEP also notifies the debtor that the assignment with EIA has ended. Any arrears accumulated while the participant was in receipt of assistance are owed to the department. However, monies received by MEP are applied first to the current payment and any arrears owed to the participant.  Balances remaining after these amounts have been paid are returned to EIA for benefits released during the assignment of benefits period. 
 

15.7.7 Refunding Maintenance Payments

When payments have been received for current maintenance from MEP after an income assistance file is closed (and when the funds should have been forwarded to the payee as the department's right to the payments has ceased), the procedures are as follows:
  1. EIA office staff should review the file where maintenance was assigned to the department to ensure that all necessary forms are completed and forwarded appropriately in a timely manner. The Termination of Assignment/Enforcement section of the Assignment of Support/Support Arrears and Enforcement form must be completed and reference the last day of the month where the participant received income assistance, not the date where the EIA file closed.
  2. Staff are to immediately forward the signed Termination of Assignment/Enforcement to MEP at 204-945-5449 with a note indicating that maintenance payments have been inappropriately sent to the department instead of the participant.
  3. MEP will process amounts owing to the individual and then reconcile this transaction with the department’s Finance and Administration Branch.
EIA staff are not to process a deficit payment or submit a Refund Request to Finance and Administration as this function can only be requested by MEP.
 

15.7.8 Statements of Maintenance Received for Income Tax Purposes

MEP does not provide EIA offices with annual statements of monies received on behalf of income assistance participants who have assigned maintenance to the Department. Participants requesting statements for inclusion in income tax declarations should be advised to contact MEP directly at 204-945-7133 or toll-free at 1-866-479-2717. Participants must ask for their account record printout, provide their address and payer/payee names.
 
Participants may also write to MEP. In Winnipeg, the address is:
102-352 Donald Street
Winnipeg, MB R3B 2H8
 
Outside Winnipeg, participants may contact the nearest MEP office to request the information. Participants outside Winnipeg may also contact Manitoba Government Inquiry, toll free, at 1-866-626-4862 to be directed to MEP. If the statements contain inadequate information, they should be returned to MEP for completion.
 

15.7.9 The Child Welfare Act

When the legislative provisions for child support were transferred from The Child Welfare Act to The Family Maintenance Act, the authority for child support payments to be made to a child caring agency was deleted. As such, all child support orders which were originally payable to a child caring agency should be assigned to the Minister of Finance, the unmarried parent or a person acting as a trustee for the child, and registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program. If this assignment and/or registration has not occurred, appropriate action should be taken to effect these changes.
 

15.7.10 Variation Application by the Payer

Central Office staff forward applications for a variation of a maintenance order to field staff. Field staff must contact the Family Law Branch, 7th floor, 405 Broadway, to review the variation request.
 
In addition to formal variation processes offered by the courts, participants whose financial circumstances have changed and who have court-ordered support orders based upon child support guidelines and include a recalculation clause, may also approach the Child Support Recalculation Service to have monthly child support recalculated. The service is free of charge, excluding mandatory court filing fees.
 
Child Support Recalculation Service
201 – 373 Broadway
Winnipeg MB R3C 4S4
Telephone: 204-945-2293
Fax: 204-948-2423
Toll-free: 1-800-282-8069 (ext. 2293)