What is the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)? How do I qualify for it?

What is Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)?

ODSP is commonly referred to as ‘disability benefits’ and it is run by the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. This kind of help is to pay for things you need, and is called ‘financial assistance or income support’. ODSP is generally for people with serious health problems.

ODSP helps persons pay for living expenses, like housing and food. It may also help pay for some prescription medications and some dental services. Some people can get additional money to help pay for a special diet and other benefits, for example: travelling to medical appointments.

How do you qualify for ODSP?

You have to qualify both:

1. Financially. To ‘qualify financially’, you must need financial support to have enough money to live on. You must also meet other rules about income and assets. When you apply for ODSP, you have to give personal and financial information about yourself, each member of your family, and anyone else who lives with you.

To qualify financially, your income cannot be more than a certain amount. The amount depends on the size of your family and the cost of your housing. The ODSP office will look at your assets, because your assets cannot be worth more than a certain amount. This amount also depends on the size of your family. Some examples of assets are savings, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and other valuable property. There are some types of income and assets that ODSP does not consider. For example, they do not count your home, car, and most household items like furniture and appliances.

ODSP usually includes income and assets of other people in your household to figure out if you qualify financially. Additionally, there are rules about who is included as part of your household. For example, if you live with your parents, ODSP will not include them if you are an adult who qualifies for ODSP on your own right. ODSP will include your spouse if the two of you live together. Your spouse can be someone of the same or opposite sex and you could be married to one another or not.

2. Medically. This means that you must meet the definition of a ‘person with a disability’ according to section 4(1) of the Ontario Disability Support Program Act. This means that an approved health professional, such as a doctor, confirms that you have a physical or mental health condition that is expected to last a year or more, and your health condition limits your ability to work, look after yourself, or do daily activities at home or in the community. Your condition must be substantial and it must limit your abilities in a substantial way.

Some people can get ODSP without having to prove that they meet the ODSP definition of a ‘person with a disability’. For example, this might apply to you if you fall within one of the following groups:

 you get disability benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP-D) or the Québec Pension Plan

 you are over 65 years old, but are not eligible for Old Age Security

 you used to get Family Benefits and and were transferred to ODSP, and

 you get services or support because you have a developmental disability, whether you own or rent a home, live in a group home or live in housing where you get support.

The above is a simply a summary of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and, if interested, you should seek more information and/or legal advice. You may start by contacting our intake line.