Ontario Disability Support Program
(Social Assistance – Disability)

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:

  1. the person has a substantial physical or mental impairment that is continuous or recurrent and expected to last one year or more;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

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

Other resources :

Ministry of Community and Social Services: www.mcss.gov.on.c
Community Legal Education Ontario : www.cleo.on.ca
Social Benefits Tribunal: www.sbt.gov.on.ca
E-laws Ontario for provincial laws and regulations: www.e-laws.gov.on.ca