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Ontario Disability Support Program (Social Assistance - Disability)
 

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) (source : Community Legal Education Ontario and Social Benefits Tribunal):

The law may change at any time. The information and answers to the questions below contain general information and are not a substitute for getting legal advice for your particular situation. For free legal advice, contact us at 613-632-1136 or 1-800-250-9220.

The Clinic can advise you on a variety of topics concerning the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), such as:

  • The definition of a disabled person under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act;
  • Reviewing your ODSP application forms;
  • ODSP Financial eligibility criteria;
  • Refusal to grant you ODSP benefits;
  • Calculation of the amount of assistance;
  • Assets and Income;
  • Suspension of your benefits;
  • Special Diet Allowance;
  • Health Benefits (glasses, dental, etc)
  • Assistive Devices Benefits;
  • Work-Related benefits;
  • Definition of spouse under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act;
  • Overpayments;
  • Internal reviews and appeals to the Social Benefits Tribunal;
  • Etc.

If you have a serious health problem, you may be eligible for disability benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

The ODSP is governed by the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, C. 25 Sched. A and its regulations. There are also Policy Directives which are guidelines explaining how the program works, what supports are available and the roles and responsibilities of both ODSP staff and clients. Policy Directives are an interpretation of the law and its regulations.

ODSP provides income support and employment support to the low-income residents of Ontario. There are two main steps to qualify for ODSP:

  • First, you must qualify financially (this means you cannot have income or assets above a certain amount which depends on the size of your family and the cost of your housing); and

  •  You must meet the ODSP definition of disability.

The ODSP Act defines a person with a disability as follows:

a)     the person has a substantial physical or mental impairment that is continuous or recurrent and expected to last one year or more;

b)     the direct and cumulative effect of the impairment on the person's ability to attend to his or her personal care, function in the community and function in a workplace, results in a substantial restriction in one or more of these activities of daily living; and;

c)      the impairment and its likely duration and the restriction in the person's activities of daily living have been verified by a person with the prescribed qualifications.

You may qualify without meeting the ODSP definition of disability if you are in a particular group, such as, people who get Canada Pension Plan disability benefits; people over 65 years old who are not eligible for Old Age Security or people who live in certain psychiatric or developmental services facilities.

Applying for the ODSP:

To apply for the ODSP, ask your Ontario Works caseworker to give you the forms for an ODSP application. If you are not on Ontario Works, you can apply at your local ODSP office. The ODSP office for Prescott and Russell residents is located at 692 Main Street East, Hawkesbury, Ontario K6A 1B4, telephone : 613-632-1171 or 1-800-565-4431.

Your ODSP application package includes:

  • The Health Status Report and Activities of Daily Living Index which must be completed by an approved health professional. (The list of approved health professionals is included on the form). (Yellow form). 

  •  The Self report to be completed by yourself. (Pink Form); and

  •  The Consent to Release of Medical Information.

You can complete the Self Report if you want to provide more information about how your health problems affect you. Or you can choose not to complete it. But you must sign the Self Report, date it and send it in.

All these forms must be completed and received by the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) in Toronto within 90 days from the date they were mailed or given to you. The DAU is a part of the Ministry of Community and Social Services that decides whether people meet the ODSP definition of disability. If you cannot get your forms in within the 90 days, you should ask the DAU to give you more time. 

We encourage you to contact us before sending your ODSP application form. We can revise it with you. 

Challenging a decision:

If you are refused ODSP benefits or if the ODSP benefits you are receiving are suspended, reduced or cut off or if a benefit, medical transportation cost or a health supply  has been refused or an overpayment is claimed, you can appeal most of the decisions to the Social Benefits Tribunal.  

Some decisions cannot be appealed. For example, decisions about discretionary benefits or third party payments. But you can still ask for an internal review of the decision.

The Social Benefits Tribunal is independent from the DAU and it has the power to make a different decision.

Before you can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal, you must write to the office that made the decision and request an internal review. An internal review means that a different person will review the decision and decide whether or not to change it.

Your internal review request must be in writing.  You must ask for an internal review within 30 days from the date you received the decision. Keep a copy for your records.

The rules assume that if a notice is mailed to you, you receive it 3 days after it is mailed. The mailing date should be stamped on the envelope by Canada Post. It might not be the same as the date on the letter. For this reason, you should keep the letter and the envelope.

It is very important to meet the time limit for requesting your internal review. If you are unable to do so, you should still request one. Explain why your request is late and ask for an extension of time. 

Contact us for free legal advice concerning your internal review request and its contents. 

An internal review is supposed to be completed and a decision made within 10 days from the date your request was received.

You have 30 days from the date of the internal review decision to file your appeal with the Social Benefits Tribunal. If you do not receive an internal review decision within 10 days, you can appeal the original decision.

To file an appeal, you must use the Social Benefits Tribunal’s Appeal Form. Contact us to obtain this form. You can also obtain it from the Social Benefits Tribunal by calling 1-800-753-3895 or TTY 1-800-268-7095 or on their website at www.sbt.gov.on.ca.

If you missed the time limit for appealing, you can ask for more time. You will have to explain why you missed the time limit when you fill out the Appeal Form. 

QUESTIONS :

Can I bring someone with me when I meet ODSP staff?

Yes. You have the right to bring a person of your choice with you. For example, you could bring a relative, a friend, or someone from a community group or agency.  

Keep in mind that you will be asked to sign documents and to provide information that will determine whether you are eligible for financial assistance. It is important that you understand clearly what you are signing and what the worker tells you. If you need more time or help to understand the documents, ask for copies to take away and read before you sign.

Can I work while receiving ODSP benefits?

Yes. Many disabled persons can and want to work. Employment income might increase your total monthly income. 

There are benefits available to you if you work. You could be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $500 per year to help you with work-related costs when you are starting a new job.   Examples of work-related costs could be clothes for work or uniforms, working boots, special equipment, travelling and others.

You could claim up to a maximum of $300 a month to cover expenses for items or services that are necessary for employment because of your disability.  For example, sign language interpreters or other necessary items for employment.

You must report the earnings that you receive between the first day and last day of the month on the Employment and Training Income Report and return it to the ODSP office at the latest by the 7th day of the next month.

ODSP will exempt 50% of your net earnings when calculating how much income support you are entitled to receive. 

In any month that you have employment earnings, ODSP will give you a Work-Related Benefit of $100. 

In calculating the amount of your net earnings, ODSP will take into account child care costs if this is your case.

For most families receiving income support from ODSP, the combination of earnings, income support and the Work-Related Benefit are a financial advantage.

What if someone in my household needs a special diet?

People who have certain medical conditions might qualify for a special diet allowance. The amount of the allowance depends on the medical condition.

To apply for a special diet allowance, you must use the special diet allowance application form. You can ask an ODSP worker for this form.

If ODSP refuses your application for a special diet allowance, you can appeal the decision. Contact us for advice.

Can I get an additional amount if I am pregnant or breast-feeding?

Yes. If you receive social assistance benefits under either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program and you are pregnant or breast-feeding your infant who is under the age of 12 months, you can receive the Pregnancy/Breast-feeding Nutritional Allowance. This allowance is provided in addition to any special diet allocation you receive.

An approved heath professional must complete the « Application for Pregnancy/Breast-feeding Nutritional Allowance ». Have it filled out by the approved health professional as soon as you know that you are pregnant because this allowance is payable commencing the month in which the approved health professional completes, signs and dates the application only. 

Your verbal confirmation is required to receive the breast-feeding allowance.

If you suffer from gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, you could receive an additional amount. An approved health professional must complete a Special Diet Allowance application. 

If an approved health professional confirms that you cannot breast-feed your infant, the infant can receive a special diet allowance. 

What can I do if I need financial assistance while I’m waiting for an answer to my ODSP application?

If you don’t already receive social assistance benefits under the Ontario Works program, you should apply by calling the L’Orignal Ontario Works office at 613-675-4642 or 1-800-667-9825 or the Rockland office at 613-446-2020 or 1-866-298-2228. Visit the Ontario Works section of our website for more information concerning this program.

What is an Interim Assistance Order?

If you are appealing an ODSP decision to reduce or suspend your current ODSP benefits for example, you may be able to get assistance while you wait for your appeal to be decided. This is known as interim assistance. The amount of interim assistance is the same as the ODSP income support amount.

The Application for Interim Assistance is part of the Appeal Form. If the Social Benefits Tribunal orders it, the ODSP office will have to pay you assistance until your appeal is decided.   If you lose you appeal, or you do not go to your hearing, you will have to pay back any interim assistance you get. Contact us to find out if you can apply for interim assistance.

Don’t hesitate to call us for free legal advice concerning the Ontario Disability Support Program.

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