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I have a disability. Can I get Ontario disability benefits?
Clear language definitions to common legal terms.
Income support from ODSP is for people with serious health problems. There are rules about who can get income support and what you must do to keep getting it.
You have to qualify both:
- financially, and
- in most cases, as a person with a disability.
You must be 18 or older to get income support on your own from ODSP. But you can apply if you will turn 18 within the next 6 months.
Who is a “person with a disability”
Most people must meet the ODSP definition of a person with a disability.
This means that an approved health professional, such as a doctor, fills out the forms that are in the Disability Determination Package to confirm that:
- you have a physical or mental health problem that’s expected to last a year or more, and
- your health problem limits your ability to work, look after yourself, or do daily activities at home or in the community.
The law also says that your health problem must be substantial and must limit your abilities in a substantial way.
It can be a health problem that you have all the time or one that sometimes goes away but then comes back.
And it can be one health problem or a number of different problems that together limit your abilities.
Getting ODSP without proving you’re a “person with a disability”
Some people can get income support from ODSP without having to complete a Disability Determination Package. This is because they don't have to prove that they meet the definition of a “person with a disability”. See Step 3.
1. Learn about qualifying financially
You must qualify financially to get assistance from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). This means that you must need financial help so that you have enough money to live on.
If you’re already getting financial help from Ontario Works (OW), you should qualify financially for ODSP.
Information about income and assets
To qualify financially for ODSP, 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.
ODSP 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.
Income and assets that ODSP does not count
There are some types of income and assets that ODSP does not count. For example, they don’t count your home, one car, and most household items like furniture and appliances.
But you still have to give ODSP information about all of your income and assets.
2. Find out who ODSP includes in your household
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) has rules about who they include as part of your household. They call this your “benefit unit”.
The amount of money you get from ODSP also depends on how many people are in your household.
The people they may include are:
Rules about spouses
OW includes your spouse in your household if the two of you live together.
Your spouse can be someone of the same or opposite sex. You could be married to one another or not.
ODSP has rules about how they decide if someone is your spouse.
If you live with your spouse and ODSP decides that both of you have a disability, you get more income support than if only one of you is a person with a disability.
Rules about children
A child under 18 who lives with you will usually be included in your household if you or your spouse is the child’s parent.
ODSP says they’re not including the child, contact a community legal clinic for help.
There are special rules about when ODSP includes a child who’s 18 or older in your household.
3. Find out if you can qualify without getting proof from a health professional
Some people can get income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) without proving that they meet the ODSP definition of a “person with a disability”.
And this means they don’t have to complete the Disability Determination Package.
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
There are also special rules that apply if you:
- used to get ODSP income support
- stopped getting it
- need to get it again
4. Apply for OW if you need money now
It can take months to find out if you qualify for income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
So, if you need money now for food and housing, you can start by applying for assistance from Ontario Works (OW) while you wait. When you tell OW that you want to apply for ODSP income support, they will start that application for you.
OW will use the ODSP asset rules when they decide if you qualify financially for OW assistance.
ODSP rules about assets are not as strict as OW rules. This means that ODSP rules allow people to have assets that are worth more than the OW rules do.
But OW can use the ODSP asset rules only once in your lifetime.