Hepatitis C: An In-Depth Guide



People living with hepatitis C may have difficulty working if their illness becomes severe or the side effects of treatment become difficult. Different programs are available to help cover costs of living for people in these situations. Income assistance (also referred to as financial or social assistance) is for people who need help paying for basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and health care. Applicants may want to discuss their health status with their case worker so they can get the most financial and social support possible.

Programs in Manitoba

Employment and Income Assistance (EIA)

In Manitoba, the Department of Family Services and Labour provides Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) to eligible residents who need help covering the costs of basic needs like food, clothing, rent and health-related costs, such as prescription drugs and transportation to medical appointments. The amount of money people may be able to receive each month depends on the household's financial resources, family size, where they live in the province and the cost of their basic necessities. In addition to receiving a monthly assistance cheque, clients may be entitled to a shelter allowance, the amount of which is based on where a person lives, their health benefits, child care supports and extra income if they have a disability.

If individuals can afford to pay for their basic living costs and only need help paying for their health-related needs, they can still apply for EIA to cover these specific costs. To apply for EIA, people can contact their local EIA Intake Office.

The EIA Program also offers clients a variety of employment, skills training and educational programs, including English literacy courses, to help people with upgrading, job training and finding work. To apply, people can speak with their case workers or contact their local EIA intake office.

Income Assistance for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities who receive EIA may be eligible for additional financial assistance through the Income Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Program. The sometimes-disabling symptoms of chronic hepatitis C may or may not be considered a disability by this program. Income Assistance for Persons with Disabilities is designed to assist people with disabilities by providing them with an additional allowance on top of their regular EIA cheque. Extra financial supports for costs such as transportation, phone rental and laundry services are also available to eligible applicants. To ensure that people receive the assistance they require, they can discuss their individual income and health-related needs with their case worker when applying for EIA.

If a person disagrees with a decision about their EIA application or benefits, they can file an appeal to have their case reviewed by the Social Services Appeal Board. Having the assistance of a community advocate can usually help with this process.

Programs in Canada

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

CPP is normally for people who have retired from working, but if a person has a medical disability, he or she may be able to receive monthly pensions before turning 65 from CPP Disability. A person must have worked in the past and paid CPP contributions (this is a standard deduction on most paychecks). The application must be accompanied by a detailed medical assessment confirming the medical condition. Often a person must appeal a negative decision for CPP disability before the application is approved.

Employment Insurance (EI)

EI is a program for people who have stopped working because they were laid off, had a baby or are too sick to work. Eligibility is based on the number of hours a person has worked, whether they have been on EI before, and what the unemployment rate is. It is usually a shorter-term program but can help while people are waiting for other programs, such as disability pensions. EI Regular Benefits can last almost a year while EI Sick Benefits generally last about 15 weeks. The amount of money a person can receive is based on a percentage of their income from their most recent job.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Many employers have employee benefits that can provide short-term disability benefits or a disability pension. Some may even have EAPs that provide counselling and financial planning. The person should enquire through the personnel or HR department. All such enquiries are kept confidential but the employee will have to disclose some personal medical information.

Revised 2014.