save legal aid

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

What is The Ontario Disability Support Program?

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is one of two social assistance programs provided in Ontario. The law related to this program is called the Ontario Disability Support Program Act (1997). This program is designed to help people with disabilities who are in financial need pay for living expenses, like food and housing (Income Support). It can also give support in finding a job (Employment Support) if the person is able to do some work and wants this help. The Ontario Disability Support Program is managed and delivered by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

How do I Qualify for ODSP?

In order to qualify for Income Support you have to be 18 years of age or older. You must live in Ontario and demonstrate a financial need. You must have a substantial physical or mental disability that is expected to last a year or more. The disability must make it hard for you to care for yourself, take part in community life or work. Therefore, when determining your eligibility for Income Support, ODSP will look at your financial situation and disability status.

Find out how to apply for ODSP

How the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic Can Help

  • If you have applied for ODSP benefits and have been turned down, we can assist you in appealing this decision and building your case.
  • If you have had your ODSP benefits reduced, cancelled and/or suspended we can assist you with challenging this decision and if necessary appealing this decision.
  • If you have applied for a special ODSP benefit such as an Employment Start Up or Community Start up and Maintenance Benefit and have been denied we can assist.
  • We can also answer any questions you have regarding eligibility for benefits, amount of assistance and benefits available for ODSP recipients.

How does the Appeal Process Work?

If you have applied for ODSP and been denied or your benefits have been altered in any way you can always challenge that decision.

The first step in challenging any decision is to request an Internal Review.  The deadline for requesting an Internal Review is 30 days from the date ODSP has issued their decision.

If your request for an Internal Review is denied, the next step is to file an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal.  The Social Benefits Tribunal is an administrative tribunal that deals specifically with appeals regarding social assistance.  The deadline for filing an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal is also 30 days from the date of the Internal Review decision.

We have produced a Flow-Chart which outlines what happens when you apply for ODSP and are denied.

Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) Hearings

We have also produced an ODSP Guided Self Help Program. This program provides resources so that clients can provide effective self-representation at SBT hearings. Watch the video below.

The materials consist of a video describing the hearing process and a booklet or guide to assist applicants in getting ready for the hearing.

Both the video and the guide are intended to be used as part of the Clinic’s Guided Self-Help ODSP process and in combination with the video “Getting Ready for the Social Benefits Tribunal”.

This program also involves meeting with the client to gather information and review their file, as well as help with obtaining new medical evidence and preparing a written submission.


VIDEO: Getting Ready for the Social Benefits Tribunal

SELF HELP Guides to Preparing for Your Social Benefits Tribunal Hearing