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I’m appealing a decision about ODSP income support. Can I get financial help while I wait for the appeal decision?

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I’m appealing a decision about ODSP income support. Can I get financial help while I wait for the appeal decision?

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Reviewed: 
November, 2016
Answer

If you disagree with a decision about Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) income support, you may be able to appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).

To start your appeal, you complete the SBT’s Appeal Form

If you were on ODSP income support

If you’re appealing a decision to cut off or reduce your ODSP income support, you can ask the SBT to order ODSP to pay you interim assistance.

If the SBT decides that you can get interim assistance, they order your local ODSP office to pay it to you.

The amount of interim assistance you’ll get is the same as what you were getting before ODSP cut off or reduced your income support.

Paying back interim assistance

Interim assistance that you get will be considered an overpayment if:

  • you don’t go to your SBT hearing
  • you lose your appeal to the SBT

If your application for ODSP income support was refused

If you’re appealing a decision refusing to give you ODSP income support, you can’t get interim assistance from ODSP. But you can apply for assistance from Ontario Works while you wait.

1. Apply for Ontario Works if you’re appealing a decision refusing to give you ODSP income support

If you need money for food and housing while you wait for the Social Benefits Tribunal to decide about your appeal, you can apply for assistance from Ontario Works (OW).

You must qualify financially to get assistance from OW. This means that you must need financial assistance so that you have enough money to live on.

Information about income and assets

To qualify financially for OW, your income can’t be more than a certain amount. That amount depends on the number of people in your household and the cost of your housing.

OW looks at your assets because your assets can’t be worth more than a certain amount. This amount also depends on the number of people in your household.

If you’re appealing a decision refusing you ODSP income support

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) has its own rules about qualifying financially. Because you’ve applied for income support from ODSP, OW uses the ODSP rules about assets when they decide if you qualify.

ODSP rules about assets are not as strict as OW rules. This means that ODSP rules allow you to have assets worth more than what the OW rules allow.

But OW can use the ODSP asset rules only once in your lifetime.

So, if OW has used the ODSP asset rules to give you financial assistance before, they can’t do it again. They will have to use the OW asset rules to decide if you qualify financially.

Reviewed: 
December, 2016
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2. Apply for interim assistance if ODSP cut off or reduced your income support

You can get interim assistance only if:

  • you were already getting income support from Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and
  • you’re appealing a decision to cut you off or reduce the amount.

You start an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) by completing the SBT’s Appeal Form.

Part 4 of the Appeal Form is an application for interim assistance.

It asks for information like:

  • the number of people in your household
  • whether you’re working, looking for work, or going to school
  • whether you get money from work or anywhere else

Information about income

On the Appeal Form, you have to give details about income that you or anyone in your household receives. You have to say:

  • what type of income you get, for example, earnings from a job, other government benefits, or support payments
  • how much you get
  • when you last got this type of income
  • how often you get it, for example, weekly or monthly

Information about assets

You have to give details about assets that belong to you or anyone in your household. You have to say:

  • what kind of assets you have, for example, money in the bank or land and property other than your home
  • how much each asset is worth

Information about expenses

You have to give details about how much you pay each month for living expenses. This includes how much you pay for:

  • rent, room and board, or mortgage and property taxes
  • utilities like heat, electricity, and water
  • food

You also have to say:

  • whether you’re late in paying money that you owe, for example, your rent or your hydro bill
  • whether you’ve received an eviction notice or a notice that an essential service, like electricity, will be cut off

Other information

You can also include any other information that you want the SBT to know about your financial situation. Include anything that shows you’ll have a hard time financially if you don’t get interim assistance while you wait for the SBT to decide about your appeal.

Reviewed: 
December, 2016
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3. Get help if ODSP does not pay the interim assistance

When the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) decides you can get interim assistance, they send an order to your local Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) office.

If ODSP disagrees

If the SBT orders ODSP to pay you interim assistance, ODSP might not agree that you should get it.

If this happens, ODSP has to object by writing to the SBT within 7 days of getting the SBT order. ODSP has to say why they don’t agree.

They must also give you a copy of what they send to the SBT.

You have 7 days to write to the SBT to say why you should get interim assistance. You must also give a copy to the ODSP office.

The SBT then decides whether to change the order it made.

Getting help

If ODSP objects or does not follow the SBT’s order to pay you interim assistance, get help from a community legal clinic.

Reviewed: 
December, 2016
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4. Apply to continue getting interim assistance

The Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) orders interim assistance for a period of time. If your interim assistance is about to end and you don’t have your appeal decision yet, you can ask the SBT if you can continue to get it.

How to apply

Write a letter to the SBT asking if you can continue getting interim assistance. Fax or mail the letter to the SBT.

You have to do this at least 14 days before your interim assistance ends.

If you can’t mail or fax a letter by the deadline, you can call the SBT.

In your letter or phone call, explain why you still need interim assistance. If nothing has changed since you first applied, your reasons will be the same.

If the SBT extends your interim assistance, they send their order to the ODSP office and to you.

If your interim assistance has ended

If your interim assistance has already ended, you have to apply again. Follow the process in Step 2.

Reviewed: 
December, 2016
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5. Go to your hearing at the SBT

The Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) makes a decision about your appeal after you have a hearing.

Interim assistance that you get while waiting for the SBT’s decision will be considered an overpayment if:

  • you don’t go to your SBT hearing
  • you lose your appeal

So, it’s important to get help with your appeal from a community legal clinic.

Reviewed: 
December, 2016
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Learn more about this topic
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC)

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