LEGAL RIGHTS BULLETIN: Ontario Disability – What is it and how do I apply?

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The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is a social assistance program for Ontario residents between the ages of 18 and 65 who are in financial need, have limited assets, and meet the definition of ” person with a disability” of the program.

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ODSP can help your family by paying you a certain amount of money each month and also helping you pay for various medical expenses such as prescription drugs, dental care, travel expenses to get to appointments medical supplies and certain medical supplies.

If you are on Ontario Works (OW) and want to apply for ODSP, you can start by talking to your OW worker about applying.

If you do NOT have OW, you can start your ODSP application online or by contacting your local ODSP office. Be prepared to provide information about your family and financial situation.

If you are financially eligible for ODSP, you will receive a Disability Determination Package (DDP). It includes documents for your healthcare provider to complete and a self-assessment for you to complete.

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You or your healthcare provider may also send additional medical records regarding your condition(s), such as hospital records, imaging results, etc.

Your DDP will then be reviewed by the DAU to decide if you are a “disabled person”.

Being a disabled person means having a physical/mental health condition, with significant impairments expected to last a year or more, AND, the impairments result in a substantial restriction in your ability to work, participate in the community, or care for you.

The DAU will send you a letter by post with its decision.

If the DAU decides you are a disabled person, you are approved for ODSP and you will be referred to a social worker at your local office.

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If the DAU decides that you are NOT a disabled person, you can and should request an internal review.

You have 30 days from the date of receipt of the letter to request the internal review. Instructions on how to request the internal review can be found in the decision letter. If you are late requesting an internal review, you can request more time.

Upon receipt of your internal review request, another member of staff will review your file and decide if you are eligible for ODSP.

The DAU will mail you a letter with the internal review decision.

If the DAU again decides that you are NOT a disabled person, you can, and should, file an appeal with the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT).

You have 30 days from the date of receipt of the letter to appeal. Instructions on how to file an appeal can be found in the internal review decision letter. If you file an appeal late, you can ask for more time.

For help, contact the Chatham-Kent Legal Clinic for advice on the process.

Melinda Katzman, CKLC lawyer (www.cklc.ca, 519-351-6771)

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