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Social Assistance Appeals

Any person who has applied for or receives assistance can appeal a decision that affects their assistance.

If a benefit that you are receiving is going to be changed, suspended or cancelled your worker will generally talk to you about the changes. Make sure your worker has all the right information.

Once a decision has been made you will receive a copy of the decision in writing, along with the reasons for the decision and information about your right to reconsideration and appeal.

You can appeal if…

  • you were not allowed to apply or reapply for income support
  • a decision about your application is not made in a reasonable time
  • your application for income support is denied
  • you disagree with the amount of a benefit you receive
  • your benefits were cancelled, changed or withheld
  • a decision is made that you have received an overpayment


The first step to appeal is to ask to have the decision reconsidered. You have to ask for this within 15 days of being notified of the decision. Your request must be considered within 7 days of when you asked for the reconsideration.

Appeal to Regional Committee

If the matter is not resolved by reconsideration you can appeal the decision. You must notify Social Services that you want to appeal the decision. An appeal hearing with the regional committee will then be scheduled. The committee is made up of locally-appointed people. They do not work for Social Services.


What happens to my assistance while I am appealing?


You can receive income support during the appeal process if your income and assets do not exceed the amount you would receive. Income support will not be provided if you are not eligible for income support because of things like being a full-time post-secondary student, being in jail or being out of the province for 30 days or more. Expenses related to preparing for or attending your appeal are not provided.


How will I find out about the hearing?


You will receive written notice of the time and place of the hearing. In some cases hearings will take place by teleconference. If this is the case you will be provided with a phone number to call.

It is important that you appear or call-in (if the hearing is by teleconference). If you fail to appear or call-in, and don't arrange for someone to attend on your behalf, the appeal committee can make a decision without hearing your side of the case.

If you or someone on your behalf cannot appear or call-in at the specified time, contact Social Services. You may be able to arrange another time.


Who can attend the hearing?


You can have someone to represent you or be at the hearing with you (an advocate). The public is not allowed at the hearing. Only the following people will be present...

  • you and your advocate, if you have chosen to have an advocate accompany you
  • members of the appeal committee
  • your worker
  • other representatives of Social Services


What happens at the hearing?


The hearing is informal. Recording devices are not allowed. You can call witnesses and present evidence. Both sides are given a chance to tell their stories.

Someone representing Social Services has the right to ask you and your witness’s questions about any of the information that you present. They can also present evidence of their own. You can ask questions of the representative and any witnesses that they call.

You have a right to be present throughout the hearing. You cannot be asked to leave the hearing room while the committee hears any information.

The hearing can be adjourned for a maximum of 30 days at a time.


What happens after the hearing?


At the end of the hearing the appeal committee will briefly summarize the issues, evidence and the related policies. The regional appeal committee must give its decision in writing. You may have to wait up to 7days for their decision. If the committee cannot make a decision within 7 days, you will be notified. They may want more time to review your appeal. They can take up to a maximum of 30 days to make their decision.

You will receive a letter from the regional appeal committee with their decision. The letter must...

  • give reasons for the decision
  • tell you that if you still feel the decision is wrong you can appeal to the Social Services Appeal Board

Appeal to Social Services Board

If you disagree with a decision of the Regional Committee you can appeal to the Social Services Appeal Board. The appointed members do not work for Social Services.

If you wish to appeal to the Social Services Appeal Board you must notify Social Services in writing that you want to appeal and include your reasons for appealing. You must do this within 15 days after you receive notice of the regional committee's decision.

The Board must set up a hearing and determine the appeal within 30 days. You will receive written notice of the time and place of the hearing at least 5 days ahead of time. The hearing may be held by teleconference. If this is the case you will receive a phone number to call.

The hearing will take place in the same way as the appeal before the local committee. You can have an advocate. You present your evidence and call your witnesses. After the hearing the Board will give their decision. The Board must let you know if they are going to take more than 7 days to make a decision and they must then make a decision within 30 days of the hearing.

No Further Right of Appeal

There is no further right of appeal from the Social Services Appeal Board. Decisions made by the Social Services Appeal Board cannot be overturned by further appeals or by the Minister of Social Services.

In limited circumstances, such as issues related to a matter of law, you may be able to ask the Court of King's Bench to review the matter. You will need the help of a lawyer to make such an application.

After an appeal has been completed the Ombudsman may investigate. The Ombudsman can investigate written complaints from individuals who believe they have been treated unfairly by the provincial government.

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