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When I apply to the Ontario Disability Support Program, how do I prove that I have a disability?

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When I apply to the Ontario Disability Support Program, how do I prove that I have a disability?

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Reviewed: 
September, 2016
Answer

When you apply 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".

Who is a “person with a disability”

To meet the ODSP definition of a “person with a disability” you need an approved health professional, such as a doctor, 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.

Proving you have a disability

To show that you’re a “person with a disability”, you use the Disability Determination Package. It contains 4 forms:

  • Health Status Report
  • Activities of Daily Living Index
  • Consent to Release Medical Information
  • Self Report

The forms have to be completed and sent to the Disability Adjudication Unit. They use the information to decide whether you qualify as a "person with a disability".

When you apply for ODSP, you get the Disability Determination Package after you qualify financially.

If ODSP says you don’t qualify financially

You can still get the Disability Determination Package if you appeal a decision about whether you qualify financially. This means you can complete your application for income support.

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

Not having to prove that you’re a “person with a disability”

Some people can get ODSP without having to prove that they’re a person with a disability. ODSP gives them income support once they qualify financially.

Next steps

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If you can, start collecting information about your health before you apply for income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). This will help you get the Disability Determination Package completed on time.

Making notes about your health problems

If you can, write down:

  • what your physical and mental health problems are
  • how they limit your ability to work, look after yourself, or do daily activities at home or in the community

For example, say if your problems:

  • cause pain
  • make it hard to concentrate or remember things
  • make it hard to sleep
  • keep you from leaving your home

Make notes that list:

  • medicines you take and any side effects
  • treatments you get, such as physiotherapy
  • medicines and treatments you’ve had in the past, when you had them, and whether they helped you
  • doctors and other health care professionals you’ve seen and when you saw them
  • when you’ve been in the hospital
  • any surgeries, tests, or other medical procedures you’re waiting for

Talking to your doctor about getting medical records

Tell your doctor that you want to get income support from ODSP.

Make sure you talk about all the health problems you have.

Ask your doctor if they have records, test results, or specialists’ reports to show how serious your health problems are. They can include these documents with the completed forms in the Disability Determination Package.

And ask your doctor to refer you to other health care professionals if you need any medical information that your doctor doesn’t already have.

Getting help

If it’s hard for you to remember things or to write them down, think about whether there’s someone who can help you. It could be a family member or friend if you don’t mind sharing personal information about your health with them.

And you might want to contact your local community legal clinic if you need help asking your doctor for what you need.

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The 2 forms in the Disability Determination Package that you complete and sign are the Self Report and the Consent to Release Medical Information.

Self Report

This includes questions about:

  • your education
  • your work history
  • how your health problems affect you in your daily life

You don’t have to fill out the Self Report. But you must sign it and send it in, whether you answer some, all, or none of the questions in it.

If you need help to fill out the Self Report, try to get someone who knows about your health problems to help you with it.

Consent to Release Medical Information

This gives your health professional permission to send the Disability Adjudication Unit all the medical information that supports your application.

This might include reports from specialists, psychological or other assessments, X-ray reports, and test results.

You must fill out, sign, and send in the Consent to Release Medical Information.

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The 2 forms in the Disability Determination Package that health professionals fill out are the Health Status Report and the Activities of Daily Living Index.

The Health Status Report

This must be filled out by one of the following “approved health professionals”:

  • a family doctor or a specialist
  • a psychologist or a psychological associate
  • an optometrist
  • a nurse practitioner

In the Health Status Report, your approved health professional confirms that:

  • you have one or more substantial physical or mental health problems
  • your health problems are expected to last at least one year
  • your health problems substantially limit your ability to work, look after yourself, or take part in activities at home or in the community

The Activities of Daily Living Index

This must be filled out by one of the following “approved health professionals”:

  • a family doctor or a specialist
  • a psychologist or a psychological associate
  • an optometrist
  • an audiologist or a speech language pathologist
  • an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist
  • a chiropractor
  • a social worker
  • a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner

In the Activities of Daily Living Index, your health professional states how much your health problem limits your ability to:

  • work
  • look after yourself
  • take part in activities at home and in the community

The Activities of Daily Living Index does not have to be filled out by the same health professional who fills out the Health Status Report.

For example, your family doctor may be the best person to fill out the Health Status Report. And your occupational therapist may be the best person to fill out the Activities of Daily Living Index.

Talking to your health professional

It’s a good idea to make an appointment so you can talk to your health professional before or while they fill out the forms. That way, you can answer any questions they have.

It’s important that they know about all of your health problems and all of the ways those problems affect you.

If you made notes about your health problems, you may want to give these to your health professional. And if you completed the Self Report, give your health professional a copy of this as well.

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You send the completed forms from the Disability Determination Package to the Disability Adjudication Unit.

You must do this within 90 days from the date the package was given to you. If you got it in the mail, your deadline is 93 days from the mailing date on the envelope it came in.

In the package, there’s an envelope with the Disability Adjudication Unit’s address on it.

Your health professional should keep copies of all of the completed forms.

If you miss the time limit

If you don’t send the forms in within the time limit, the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) office closes your file.

This means that you’ll have to start from the beginning to apply for income support from ODSP.

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.

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The Disability Adjudication Unit looks at the information that you send in and decides whether you meet the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) definition of a “person with a disability”.

They’ll let you know by sending you a letter in the mail.

If the Disability Adjudication Unit says that you’re a “person with a disability”, they tell your local ODSP office so that ODSP can start to pay you income support.

If the Disability Adjudication Unit says that you’re not a “person with a disability”, you may be able to appeal that decision.

For help appealing the decision, you may want to contact your local community legal clinic.

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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