Last updated Feb. 12, 2018.
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is a social assistance program that provides financially needy, significantly disabled Ontario residents with Income Support and Employment Supports.
You will have to meet certain financial requirements in order to qualify for ODSP benefits. You can find out more information about the eligibility requirements by visiting the ODSP section of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) website or by visiting the nearest social assistance office in your region.
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What is the Ontario Disability Support Program?
The goal behind ODSP is to help disabled individuals with their basic living expenses such as housing and food, but also through support with employment.
Income Support Benefits
Qualified, disabled Ontario residents will have access to a host of Income Support benefits through the ODSP:
- Basic needs allowance. The basic need portion of your ODSP payments, which are calculated according to family size and age of family members, are meant to cover expenses such as food, clothing and other necessary personal items.
- Shelter allowance. This portion of your payments is meant to cover your rent or mortgage, utilities, property taxes, and insurance.
- Health benefits. You also might be eligible for health benefits, including dental coverage, prescriptions, vision care, medical supplies, and medical transportation.
- Disability-related benefits. Qualified applicants can receive help for paying for assistance devices, such as hearing or visual aids, as well as obtaining a guide dog.
- Transition child benefits. Those who receive ODSP and have dependent children might be able to qualify for an additional Transition Child Benefit payment.
ODSP Employment Supports
Various types of Employment Supports are also available through the ODSP:
- Health benefits. If you begin work and no longer qualify for ODSP health benefits, there are additional Extended Health Benefits that you may be able to receive.
- Child care assistance. You can receive help paying for child care costs when you begin or change jobs.
- Work-Related Benefit. This helps cover additional costs associated with employment, such as transportation or clothing expenses.
- Employment and Training Start-Up Benefit. The ODSP can help you pay for certain expenses if you are trying to start a new job or a new business.
- Additional Employment Supports. When you begin the program, you will work with a community service provider to determine what your benefit needs are. You may be able to obtain supports such as: making a business plan, marketing, mentoring, financial help for equipment and supplies, job coaching, and specialized training.
The above is only a partial listing of the benefits available under the ODSP. It’s an invaluable service for disabled individuals in Ontario, and can help a family survive when the family breadwinner has suffered a disabling illness or injury.
Do I qualify for ODSP?
There are a couple of basic qualifying factors you need to meet in order to be considered for ODSP support. To qualify, you must:
- be 18 years of age or older;
- reside in Ontario;
- be able to demonstrate your financial need; and
- live with a substantial mental or physical disability.
A substantial disability is one that is expected to persist for one year or longer. It also must make it difficult for you to work or earn an income, participate in family or community activities, and participate in self-care activities (dressing, bathing, etc.).
How will my ODSP application be processed?
You can apply for benefits by first speaking with Ontario Works. If you qualify for ODSP benefits, they will assist you in applying for the ODSP.
You then will go through a two-part application process. First, they will determine your financial eligibility, and then they will look at your disability status. It can take up to several months to determine your eligibility. You may wish to look into other available financial resources while awaiting approval.
Determining Financial Eligibility
The first part of the application process involves determining your financial eligibility. You will have to supply your ODSP caseworker with all the information he or she requests about your and your family’s financial situation.
Among other items, you will have to supply your caseworker with documentation for your housing costs, assets, and income. After all this information is assessed, your caseworker then will determine your eligibility and the Income Support amount for which you qualify.
Determining Disability Eligibility
The next part of the process is the Disability Determination Process. The MCSS explains it will determine if applicants have a “substantial medical or physical disability that:
- is continuous or recurrent;
- is expected to last for a year or more;
- significantly limits their ability to work, look after themselves or get out in the community; and
- has been verified by an approved health professional.”
You will have to submit a package of forms, the Disability Determination Package, to the MCSS to determine your disability eligibility. You and your doctor will fill out the forms jointly. Specially trained staff in the Disability Adjudication Unit of the MCSS then will make a decision as to whether or not you meet their definition of a person with a disability.
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Denied Disability Benefits? Contact an ODSP Lawyer
If you think your benefits were wrongly denied, you will have to go through the MCSS appeals process. To begin the process, you will need to request an Internal Review. During this review, they will look at you case and determine whether or not the rules were applied correctly to your situation.
If you’re still denied at that point, you’ll have the opportunity to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal. ODSP benefits are a lifeline for many families; the importance of obtaining them cannot be overstated. You might consider contacting a disability lawyer to ensure your rights are upheld and that you secure the benefits that you need while disabled.
If you need help obtaining disability benefits in Ontario or have any questions regarding your legal options after sustaining an injury or illness, we invite you to contact our team at Preszler Law Firm. We have six decades of experience helping distressed clients seek the restitution they need and deserve.