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My spouse and I have separated. What will happen when I apply for ODSP income support?
Clear language definitions to common legal terms.
- have separated, and
- don’t plan to get back together
But ODSP must believe that you’ve separated and don’t plan to get back together or they’ll see you as a couple.
ODSP rules say that couples have to apply together for assistance.
You should get legal advice if ODSP says you must apply as a couple.
1. Learn about the rules ODSP uses to decide if separated spouses are a couple
To consider you separated, the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) has to believe that you and your spouse:
- don’t live together, and
- don’t plan to get back together.
But they might say that the two of you are still a couple because of the reason you’re not living together. For example:
- Your spouse is away at school or looking for work somewhere else.
- Your spouse is in another country waiting for a visa to come to Canada.
- There are problems with your relationship, but there’s still a chance you might get back together.
Proving that you’re separated
You may have to prove to ODSP that you’ve separated. For example, you might have:
- a separation agreement
- a court order or papers showing that you’re going to court
- bank or other financial records showing that you keep your money separate
Living at the same address
If you’re still living at the same address as your former partner, you’ll need to explain to ODSP why this is. For example, you might share housing because you’re not able to afford the cost of living on your own.
Getting help because of your disability
Even if you’ve separated, your former partner may be helping you with things that are hard for you to do because of your disability.
For example, your former partner might help you with your banking or you might continue to live at the same address so they can help you at home.
In these cases, it can be hard to prove to ODSP that you’re living as a single person.
You may need to get legal advice to help you know what to do.
2. Get legal help if ODSP says you and your separated spouse are still a couple
If you’re separated but the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) thinks that you’re still a couple, get legal help.
The amount of income support you get as a couple is less than what you would get as two single people.
3. Learn about your right to appeal a decision
Ask ODSP for the decision in writing right away.
To appeal, the first thing you have to do is write to the ODSP office that made the decision and ask for an internal review.
After you have asked for an internal review, you can appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal.
The Tribunal isn’t part of ODSP. It has the power to make a different decision.
Talk to a community legal clinic if you disagree with the ODSP decision. They may be able to help you appeal the decision.