3. Consider your options

Beware of scams

People have been getting phone calls with a pre-recorded message telling them their Ontario Works account has been deleted.

This is a scam to trick you into sharing your personal information. If you get a call like that, hang up the phone. You can report these calls to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

If Ontario Works (OW) says they want to collect an from you, it's important to get legal advice to help you decide what to do.

The overpayment could be money you got from OW or from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

Internal reviews and appeals to the Social Benefits Tribunal

If you don't agree with what OW says about an overpayment, you can ask OW to do an .

If you don't agree with the internal review decision, you may be able to appeal to the (SBT). But you must ask for the internal review before you can appeal to the SBT.

What you can ask for

When you ask OW for an internal review or make an appeal to the SBT, you can ask them to decide that:

  • there's no overpayment because you had a right to the assistance that you got
  • the amount of the overpayment is less than what OW says
  • OW should take a smaller amount from your each month while they collect the overpayment
  • you should not have to pay back the full amount of the overpayment
  • you should not have to pay back the money at all
  • you should not have to pay back the money right now

Why you might not have to pay back an overpayment

Most of the time, people have to pay back money that they got because of an overpayment.

But sometimes it's not fair for OW to make someone pay all or any of it back. And sometimes it would cause the person too much hardship.

Each person's case is different. So what happens depends on your situation and the reasons for the overpayment.

Here are some examples of things that could affect a decision about whether you have to pay back any or all of an overpayment:

  • Did OW or ODSP pay you too much by mistake and it wasn't your fault?
  • Did you know there was an overpayment and try to report it?
  • Did you understand what information you had to report?  Did you always give true and complete information about your situation?
  • Did someone from OW or ODSP give you wrong information or not answer your questions about what information they needed from you?
  • Do you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to understand the rules about what information you have to give when you're on assistance?
  • Did the overpayment happen while you were living with a spouse? Did you know about it?
  • If you have to pay back the money, will you have so little left that it will be harmful to your health and well-being?
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