How to Apply for ODSP Benefits
Ontario’s government-funded welfare system is made up of two components: (1) Ontario Disability Support Program (“ODSP”) and (2) Ontario Works (“OW”).
While OW is more employment-based, ODSP is a disability benefit that provides monetary support for disabled persons in Ontario. ODSP’s objective is to recompensate parties for any income lost due to the recipient's disability. Due to its nature and the impact of disability on a person’s life, ODSP has higher rates of assistance and asset limits.
The ODSP benefit has two main components: (1) a fixed basic needs allowance, and (2) a variable amount for housing. All costs are verified through submitted receipts and information sharing among other government agencies. Upon determining the quantum, the benefits pay a monthly amount to the qualifying person, with more funds being received if the disabled applicant has dependents.
It is important to note that ODSP is the income replacement benefit of last resort, meaning that ODSP will be discontinued or rejected, if the applicant is receiving some other public or private income replacement benefit. These include benefits from the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Workers Compensation, Private Insurance (i.e. LTD/STD), or income replacement monies from legal action.
The Test for ODSP
Multiple preconditions must be satisfied to be eligible for the ODSP benefit:
1. At Least 18 Years Old: An Applicant must be over 18, as minors are supplied different types of benefits through other programs.
2. Ontario Resident: Individual cannot reside outside of Ontario and still qualify.
3. Financial Need: The ODSP has rules about what you can have in income and assets and still qualify financially for income support. Determining whether you are in financial need is dependent on the context and family situation. If you qualify for OW, then you are financially qualified for ODSP. For more information, please see here.
4. Disabled: To be considered disabled under the fourth precondition, an applicant must satisfy a subjective four-part test, as established by the ODSP Act:
a) Substantial mental or physical impairment that is continuous or recurrent;
b) The disability is expected to last for a year or more;
c) The disability significantly limits their ability to work, look after themselves, or get out in the community; and
d) The disability has been verified by an approved health professional.
If you’re a member of a Prescribed Class, then you don’t have to go through this disability adjudication process, but you must still apply and meet all other ODSP eligibility requirements.
Procedure for Applying
The application procedure for ODSP is rather simple and may be done online. It essentially consists of two parts: one testing financial eligibility and the other determining disability. The Disability Determination Package is used to collect information about your disability. The package includes both a (1) health status report, to inquire about your medical condition, and (2) activities of daily living index, about the impact of your impairments. Health care professionals approved to complete both parts include (but is not limited to) physicians, registered nurses, optometrists, and psychologists. An applicant should ask their professional to submit any supporting documentation (i.e. clinical notes) with your application.
No matter the outcome, there are always routes to appeal and potentially, other sources of compensation. If you have been injured in a car accident or other incident and require legal representation to learn more about potentially available benefits, do not hesitate to contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at Littlejohn Barristers.