What Is Required to Qualify For ODSP Benefits?

A Claimant For ODSP Must Suffer From Substantial Physical or Mental impairment of Continuous or Recurring Nature and That Is Expected to Last At Least One Year. Such a Disability Must Impair Various Prescribed Personal Functions and Be Confirmed By a Qualified Professional.

Understanding the Ontario Disability Support Program Including the Benefits, Claim Process, and Appeal Process

ODSP Claim Form Document The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is a financial assistance program, deliverable as income support as well as employment support and is available to qualified disabled persons.  The income support benefit provides a basic income source to assist with living costs.  For disabled persons who can work and want to work, the employment support benefit provides assistance with finding a job, with job coaching, with devices such as computers and software, transportation arrangements, and other necessities of employment such as clothing apparel, equipment, and tools.  Disabled persons may also receive assistance in starting a business.

The Law

The qualification criteria for Ontario Disability Support Program are prescribed and governed by the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, Chapter 25, Schedule B, wherein, and subject to other sections, it is said:

Who receives income support

3 (1) Income support shall be provided to a person with a disability, as determined under section 4, and to a person of a prescribed class.

Who are the beneficiaries

(2) Income support shall be provided for the benefit of the eligible person and his or her dependants.

Person with a disability

4 (1) A person is a person with a disability for the purposes of this Part if,

(a) the person has a substantial physical or mental impairment that is continuous or recurrent and expected to last one year or more;

(b) the direct and cumulative effect of the impairment on the person’s ability to attend to his or her personal care, function in the community and function in a workplace, results in a substantial restriction in one or more of these activities of daily living; and

(c) the impairment and its likely duration and the restriction in the person’s activities of daily living have been verified by a person with the prescribed qualifications.


(2) A determination under this section shall be made by a person appointed by the Director.

Eligibility for income support

5 (1) No person is eligible for income support unless,

(a) the person qualifies under subsection 3 (1);

(b) the person is resident in Ontario;

(c) the budgetary requirements of the person and any dependants exceed their income and their assets do not exceed the prescribed limits, as provided for in the regulations;

(d) the person and the prescribed dependants provide the information and the verification of information required to determine eligibility including,

(i) information regarding personal identification, as prescribed,

(ii) financial information, as prescribed, and

(iii) any other prescribed information; and

(e) the person and any dependants meet any other prescribed conditions relating to eligibility.


(2) A person is not eligible for income support if,

(a) the person is dependent on or addicted to alcohol, a drug or some other chemically active substance;

(b) the alcohol, drug or other substance has not been authorized by prescription as provided for in the regulations; and

(c) the only substantial restriction in activities of daily living is attributable to the use or cessation of use of the alcohol, drug or other substance at the time of determining or reviewing eligibility.


(3) Subsection (2) does not apply with respect to a person who, in addition to being dependent on or addicted to alcohol, a drug or some other chemically active substance, has a substantial physical or mental impairment, whether or not that impairment is caused by the use of alcohol, a drug or some other chemically active substance.

Income support in exceptional circumstances

6 In cases presenting exceptional circumstances and in which investigation shows the advisability of income support being provided to a person who is not eligible for it, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may by order direct that income support be provided to the person in accordance with the terms of the order.

7 Repealed

Agreement to reimburse and assignment

8 (1) The Director shall in prescribed circumstances, as a condition of eligibility for income support, require an applicant, a recipient or a dependant to agree to reimburse the Director for the income support provided or to be provided.


(2) An agreement under subsection (1) may require an assignment, as prescribed.


(3) This section does not apply to,

(a) a payment that would be exempt as income or assets under this Act or the regulations; or

(b) that portion of employment earnings, pension income or other prescribed income that is paid with respect to a period after the period during which the person receives income support.

Failure to comply

9 (1) If an applicant, recipient or dependant fails to comply with or meet a condition of eligibility for income support, the Director shall, as prescribed, do one of the following:

1. Refuse to grant income support.

2. Declare the person ineligible for income support for the prescribed period.

3. Reduce or cancel the income support or that part of it provided for the benefit of the person who has failed to comply.

4. Suspend the income support or suspend that part of it provided for the benefit of the person who has failed to comply.


(2) If income support is suspended, reduced or cancelled under this section, it shall be returned to its former level or re-instated only in accordance with the regulations.

Application for income support

10 (1) An application for income support shall be made in the prescribed manner and shall contain the prescribed information.


(2) Despite any decision of the Director, the Tribunal or a court, a further application for income support may be made by an applicant or recipient upon new or other evidence or if material circumstances have changed.

Determination of income support

11 The amount of income support to be provided and the time and manner of providing that support shall be determined in accordance with the regulations.

Appointment of person to act for recipient

12 (1) The Director may appoint a person to act for a recipient if there is no guardian of property or trustee for the recipient and the Director is satisfied that the recipient is using or is likely to use his or her income support in a way that is not for the benefit of a member of the benefit unit.


(2) The Director may provide income support for the benefit of a recipient to the recipient’s guardian of property or trustee or to a person appointed under subsection (1).


(3) A person to whom income support is provided under subsection (2) is not entitled to a fee or other compensation or reward or to reimbursement for costs or expenses incurred by acting under this section, except as prescribed.

Report and account

(4) A person appointed under this section to act for a recipient shall report and account in accordance with the regulations.

Money paid to third party

13 A portion of income support may be provided directly to a third party on behalf of a recipient if an amount is payable by a member of the benefit unit to the third party for costs relating to basic needs or shelter, as prescribed.

Recovery of overpayments

14 (1) If an amount has been provided to a recipient under this Act in excess of the amount to which the recipient was entitled, the amount of the excess is an overpayment.


(2) If a recipient or a dependant fails to honour an assignment or an agreement to reimburse the Director, the prescribed amount is an overpayment.

Overpayment a debt due to the Crown

(2.1) An overpayment under this Act is a debt due to the Crown in right of Ontario.

Recovery of overpayments from other programs

(3) An overpayment enforceable against a recipient or the recipient’s spouse under the Ontario Works Act, 1997, the Family Benefits Act or the General Welfare Assistance Act is recoverable under this Act even though the overpayment was made by,

(a) a delivery agent under the Ontario Works Act, 1997;

(b) a welfare administrator under the General Welfare Assistance Act; or

(c) the Director under the Family Benefits Act.

Methods of recovery

(4) An overpayment may be recovered by one or more of reduction of income support under section 15, notice under section 16 or a proceeding under section 17.

Same, debts due to the Crown

(5) In addition to the methods referenced in subsection (4), an overpayment that is a debt due to the Crown in right of Ontario may be recovered by any remedy or procedure available to the Crown by law.

Reduction of income support

15 (1) The Director may recover the amount of an overpayment by deducting it from the recipient’s income support.


(2) The amount deducted under subsection (1) shall not exceed the prescribed amount unless the recipient agrees to a greater amount being deducted.

Notice of overpayment

16 (1) The Director may give a recipient notice in writing of a decision determining that an overpayment exists and, if the Director does, the notice shall set out the amount of the overpayment and the prescribed information concerning the decision.

Effect of notice

(2) A decision determining that an overpayment exists shall be final and enforceable against the recipient as if it were an order of the Superior Court of Justice if,

(a) notice of it has been given under subsection (1);

(b) the time for commencing an appeal to the Tribunal has expired; and

(c) no appeal has been commenced.

Effect of appeal

(3) If the decision is appealed and an overpayment is determined, the decision of the Tribunal shall be final and enforceable against the recipient as if it were an order of the Superior Court of Justice.

Notice to spouse

(4) If a recipient had a dependent spouse when an overpayment was incurred, the Director may give notice in writing to the spouse respecting the overpayment.

Effect of notice to spouse

(5) If the Director provides notice to a spouse under subsection (4), subsections (2) and (3) apply with necessary modifications to the spouse.

Proceeding for recovery of overpayment

17 The Director may recover an overpayment as a debt due to the Crown in a court of competent jurisdiction, whether or not notice has been provided under section 16.

No attachment, etc., of income support

18 (1) Income support under this Act,

(a) is not subject to alienation or transfer by the recipient; and

(b) is not subject to garnishment, attachment, execution, seizure or receivership under any other Act.

Deduction re money owed for family support, etc.

(2) Despite subsection (1), the Director may deduct a portion of income support to recover,

(a) the amount of a support deduction order that is enforceable against a member of the benefit unit under section 20 of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996; or

(b) the prescribed government debts owed by a member of the benefit unit.

Maximum amount deducted

(3) The total amount deducted from income support under subsection (2) shall not exceed the prescribed amount unless the recipient agrees to a greater amount.

Payment of amount deducted

(4) The Director shall pay any amount deducted under this section to the prescribed person.

Application of section

(5) This section applies even if the amount has been paid into the person’s account at a financial institution.

Interestingly, section 5(2) and section 5(3) of the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, as currently disqualify a person whose disability is addiction to alcohol, to drug, or to chemically active substance, were repealed in 2021 will soon be inapplicable thereby enabling persons disabled by alcohol, by drug, or by chemically active substance, to receive ODSP benefits.

Qualifying Criteria

In summary, and subject to the specifics prescribed within the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, to qualify to receive Ontario Disability Support Program benefits, a claimant:

  • Must be a resident of Ontario;
  • Must meet the financial conditions based upon budgetary requirements, income sources, if any, value of assets, if any, among other things;
  • Must meet the prescribed disability qualifications; and 
  • Must provide the required supporting documentation.

Appealing For Benefits

If a claim for Ontario Disability Support Program benefits was declined, professional legal assistance can review the documents and information that were submitted for any gaps in the required details as well as to help identify any errors or misinterpretations by the government staff that denied the ODSP benefits.  A professional legal representative providing the appropriate arguments and advocacy via the Social Benefits Tribunal hearing process may also make the difference between another denial of benefits or a granting of benefits.

Summary Comment

The Ontario Disability Support Program provides benefits to qualifying persons unable to work, or unable to work without such supports.  To qualify, a disabled person must be a resident of Ontario, must meet certain financial conditions, must meet the disability qualifications; and must provide the relevant supporting documentation.


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