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How do I start an application to the Ontario Disability Support Program?

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How do I start an application to the Ontario Disability Support Program?

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Reviewed: 
September, 2016
Answer

To get income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), you have to qualify both:

  1. financially, and
  2. in most cases, as a person with a disability.

If you’re on OW

If you’re already getting financial assistance from Ontario Works (OW), you have to apply for ODSP income support through your OW office.

And because you’re already on OW, you should qualify financially for ODSP income support.

If you’re not on OW

If you need money right away, you may want to start by applying for financial assistance from OW.

This is because it can take months to find out if you qualify for income support from ODSP.

If you don’t need assistance from OW, you can start your ODSP application by contacting your local ODSP office. They decide if you qualify financially for income support.

Or, you may be able to use ODSP's online application.

After you start your application, the ODSP office should contact you within 5 days to give you an appointment to complete your application.

If you qualify financially

If ODSP decides that you do qualify financially, you’ll get a Disability Determination Package with forms that ask about your health.

Sending in the completed forms is how you prove that you’re a person with a disability.

If you don’t qualify financially

If ODSP decides that you don’t qualify financially for income support, you may be able to appeal that decision. For help and advice about appealing, contact a community legal clinic.

If you’re appealing that decision, you can go ahead with the next step in your application for income support while you wait for your appeal. This means completing the Disability Determination Package to show that you’re a “person with a disability”.

You can get the Disability Determination Package from the ODSP worker, complete the forms, and send them to the Disability Adjudication Unit.

It’s important to do this because, if you win your appeal, your income support can start from the date that the Disability Adjudication Unit received your completed application.

Next steps

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If you’re getting financial assistance from Ontario Works (OW), the OW office has to start your application to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

Tell your OW worker that you want to apply for income support from ODSP.

OW will ask you to give them updated information that shows you still qualify financially, unless you’ve done this within the last 3 months.

Getting the Disability Determination Package

The OW office gives you a Disability Determination Package, which has forms that ask about your health.

These forms have to be completed and sent to the Disability Adjudication Unit so they can decide if you meet the definition of a person with a disability.

If you don’t have to prove that you have a disability

Some people can get income support from ODSP without having to prove that they meet the ODSP definition of a "person with a disability". 

This might apply to you if you’re in one of the following groups:

  • you get disability benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP-D) or the Québec Pension Plan
  • you’re over 65 years old but are not eligible for Old Age Security
  • you live in certain kinds of:
    • hospitals that treat people with mental health issues
    • special care homes
  • you get services or support because you have a developmental disability, whether you:
    • own or rent a home
    • live in a group home
    • live in housing where you get support
  • you used to live in what’s called a developmental services institution
  • you used to get Family Benefits and were transferred to ODSP

If any of the above apply to you, your OW worker sends your application for income support to your ODSP office for them to deal with.

And you don’t have to complete a Disability Determination Package.

There are also special rules that apply if you:

  • used to get ODSP income support
  • stopped getting it
  • need to get it again
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If you’re not getting financial assistance from Ontario Works (OW), you start by applying to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

You need to give detailed information about you and other people in your household to show that you qualify for income support from ODSP.

It’s a good idea to collect all the information and documents before you apply. It speeds up the process if you have them all ready.

Collecting the information you need

You need to give ODSP the following information about yourself and anyone else in your household:

  • name and date of birth
  • immigration status
  • income
  • assets

You also have to give:

  • your address
  • your housing costs and what type of housing you live in, for example, whether you live in a place that you rent or own

Needing a special diet

People who have certain medical conditions may be able to get a special diet allowance as part of the income support they get from ODSP.

If you or others in your household qualify for a special diet, ODSP must look at this when they decide whether you qualify for income support.  

So, it can be important to apply for a special diet allowance when you apply for income support.

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If you’re not getting financial assistance from Ontario Works (OW), you start by applying to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

You may be able to start your ODSP application online.

Or, you can contact your local ODSP office to apply.

If you apply online

Make sure to have all of your information and documents ready before you start filling out the online application.

The information you enter goes to your local ODSP office. Within 5 business days, a worker from that office is supposed to phone you to set up an appointment to complete the application.

If you apply online but don’t have a phone number, call your local ODSP office to make the appointment.

If you call ODSP to apply

They will:

  • ask you some questions on the phone
  • give you an appointment to come in and complete your application

If ODSP does not want to take your application

If you’re talking to an ODSP worker on the phone and they don’t want to give you an appointment to complete your application, ask to speak to a supervisor. Tell the supervisor that you want to complete your application.

If there’s still a problem, contact your community legal clinic right away.

Changing the meeting place

The appointment to complete your application is usually at the local ODSP office.

If getting to the local ODSP office is hard for you, ask the ODSP worker to meet with you at your home or somewhere else that’s better for you.

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At the appointment, you meet with an Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) worker. They ask you for information to show that you qualify financially for income support.

You will need to:

Other adult family members who ODSP says are in your household also have to come to the appointment. ODSP calls this your “benefit unit”.

Collecting documents

Make sure to bring all the documents that you’ll need.

Listed below are the types of documents ODSP can ask you for to prove you qualify financially.

Personal identification documents

This includes:

  • birth certificates or passports
  • health cards
  • Indian status cards
  • immigration documents

Legal documents

This includes:

  • separation or divorce papers
  • custody documents
  • support orders

Proof of income and assets

This includes:

  • bank statements or bank records
  • proof of income from any source, including employment, support payments, workers' compensation, Employment Insurance, and payments from tenants, roomers, and boarders
  • the notice of assessment that you get from the Canada Revenue Agency after you send in your income tax return
  • information about assets, including registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) statements, car ownership papers, life insurance policies, and bonds

Proof of work and education

This includes:

  • pay stubs, Record of Employment, or letter of termination

  • documents that prove you or someone in your household is going to school

Proof of debts

This includes:

  • credit card bills or cash advances from your credit card

  • student loans, such as loans from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)
  • other loans, even if the loan is from a relative or friend

Documents related to housing

This includes:

  • rent receipts and leases or tenancy agreements

  • mortgage agreements and statements
  • other bills related to housing costs, such as bills for hydro, water, gas, property tax, and home or apartment insurance

Keep copies of documents

Make sure to keep copies of any documents that you give to the ODSP worker. You can ask the worker to give you a list to prove what documents you gave them. You can also ask the worker to make copies of any documents that you bring to the appointment.

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At your appointment with the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) worker, you have to fill out and sign a number of forms.

Other adult family members who ODSP says are in your household also have to come to the appointment and complete these forms. ODSP calls this your “benefit unit”.

There’s information below about the forms.

Application for Assistance

This form asks for information about you and your financial situation.

Consent to Disclose and Verify Personal Information

This form lets ODSP check the information that you give them. For example, they can check with your bank, a credit reporting agency, or government agencies, such as the Family Responsibility Office.

But they should only check information that that they need to prove that you qualify financially for income support.

If you have concerns about information that ODSP wants, contact your community legal clinic.

Consent to Disclose and Verify Information (Canada Revenue Agency)

This form lets ODSP check the information that the Canada Revenue Agency has about you.

This includes information related to your income tax returns and any federal government benefits you may get.

Rights and Responsibilities

This form describes what you must do while you’re getting income support from ODSP.

Ask the ODSP worker to go over this form with you before you sign it.

Deciding if you qualify financially

ODSP is supposed to decide if you qualify financially and send you a Notice of Decision within 15 business days of your meeting.

If ODSP decides you don’t qualify financially, you might be able to appeal the decision.

If you do qualify financially, you get a Disability Determination Package with forms that ask about your health.

Completing the Disability Determination Package

The forms have to be completed and sent to the Disability Adjudication Unit within 90 days from the date they were given to you.

If you got the package in the mail, the deadline is 93 days from the mailing date on the envelope.  

If you can’t send your forms in within the time limit, contact the Disability Adjudication Unit and ask them to give you more time.

You’ll have to prove that you have a good reason. For example, if you could not complete the forms because you were in hospital or in jail, they should give you more time.

But if they refuse to give you more time and you miss the deadline, you’ll have to start your application again.

You won’t get these forms to complete if you’re someone who does not have to prove that you have a disability.

Learn more about this topic
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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