Ontario Disability – What is it and how to apply

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The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is a social assistance program for residents of Ontario between ages 18-65 who are in financial need, have limited assets, and meet the program’s definition of a “person with a disability.” 

ODSP may assist your family by paying you a certain amount of money per month, and also helping to pay for various medical expenses such as prescription medications, dental work, the cost of travelling to medical appointments, and certain medical supplies. 

If you are on Ontario Works (OW) and want to apply for ODSP, you can start by talking with your OW caseworker about applying. 

If you are not on OW, you can start your ODSP application online, or by contacting your local ODSP office. Be prepared to provide information about your family and financial situation. 

If you financially qualify for ODSP, you will receive a Disability Determination Package (DDP). It includes paperwork for your health-care provider to complete, and a Self-Report for you to complete.

You or your health-care provider can also send in additional medical records about your condition(s), such as hospital records, imaging results, etc. You have 90 days to complete and submit the DDP to the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU). 

Your DDP will then be reviewed by the DAU to decide if you are a “person with a disability.”

Being a person with a disability means having a physical/mental health condition, with substantial impairments that are expected to last one year or more, AND, the impairments result in a substantial restriction in your ability to work, take part in the community, or look after yourself. 

The DAU will send you a letter in the mail with their decision. 

If the DAU decides that you are a person with a disability, you are approved for ODSP and will be referred to a caseworker at your local office. 

If the DAU decides that you are NOT a person with a disability, you can, and should, ask for an internal review.

You have 30 days from the date you get the letter to ask for the internal review. The instructions on how to ask for the internal review are in the decision letter. If you are late asking for an internal review, you can ask for more time. 

Upon receiving your request for an internal review, a different staff person will review your package and decide if you qualify for ODSP. 

The DAU will send you a letter in the mail with the internal review decision. 

If the DAU again decides that you are NOT a person with a disability, you can, and should, file an Appeal with the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).

You have 30 days from the date you get the letter to file the Appeal. The instructions on how to file an Appeal are in the internal review decision letter. If you are late filing an Appeal, you can ask for more time.

For assistance, contact the Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic for advice about the process.

Melinda Katzman, CKLC Staff Lawyer (www.cklc.ca, 519-351-6771)

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