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Can Ontario Works say that I have to pay them back out of money I get in the future?

Question
Can Ontario Works say that I have to pay them back out of money I get in the future?

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Reviewed: 
March, 2017
Answer

Yes. Ontario Works (OW) can ask you to pay back financial assistance out of money that you get in the future.

And if you don’t agree to do this, they can refuse to give you assistance or cut off your assistance.

When OW will ask you to agree to pay back money

OW will ask you to agree to pay back money that would affect:

  • whether you’re eligible for financial assistance, or
  • the amount of assistance that you get. 

For example, OW will ask you to agree to pay back assistance if:

  • You’re waiting for benefits from another government program like the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, or workers’ compensation.
  • You’re waiting for money from an insurance company or a private pension plan.
  • A court has ordered someone to pay you and you’re waiting for the money.
  • You’re waiting for spousal support payments.

OW will also ask you to agree to pay back assistance if:

  • you’re getting assistance from OW while you wait to find out if you qualify for income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and
  • you’re able to get assistance from OW only because they used ODSP’s asset rules, which are not as strict as OW’s rules.

When OW will not ask you to agree to pay back money

But there are some types of income and assets that OW does not count when deciding:

  • if you’re eligible
  • how much assistance to give you

And you don’t have to agree to pay this kind of money back.

For example, they don’t count child support payments owed to you for periods of time that begin on February 1, 2017, or after that date. So OW can't ask you to pay back assistance out of that money.

Next steps

Body:

Ontario Works (OW) can ask you to agree that you’ll pay back financial assistance out of money that you get in the future.

OW will ask you to agree to pay back money that would affect:

  • whether you’re eligible for financial assistance, or
  • the amount of assistance that you get. 

To prove that you agree, you have to sign a form called an Agreement to Reimburse. This is a promise that you’ll pay back what you owe in assistance out of the money you get in the future.

If you don’t follow the agreement, OW will say that you have an overpayment. And they’ll take steps to collect the money you owe

Body:

Ontario Works (OW) can ask you to agree that you’ll pay back financial assistance out of money that you get in the future.

You’ll have to sign an Agreement to Reimburse.

The “Assignment, Authorization and Direction” form

OW may also ask you to sign an Assignment, Authorization and Direction form. This is a form that tells a person or government agency that owes you money to pay the money to OW instead of you.

After you sign the form, OW sends it to the person or agency.

For example, you might be getting financial assistance from OW while you wait to get income support from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). To get their money back, OW may want ODSP to send the money directly to them.

If the money is paid to you

You have to pay back the money to OW if:

  • someone is supposed to send money to OW because of an Assignment, and
  • they send the money to you instead of sending it to OW. For example, they might do this by mistake.

If you don’t pay back money that you owe, OW will say that you have an overpayment. And they’ll take steps to collect the money you owe

Body:

If Ontario Works (OW) thinks that you owe them money, they'll say that you have an overpayment. And they’ll take steps to collect the money you owe.

You may be able to appeal a decision about an overpayment to the Social Benefits Tribunal.

But it’s important to get legal advice to help you decide what to do.

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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