Ontario Disability Support Program – Overview
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is social assistance that is provided by the government of Ontario to eligible people with disabilities and their families (the benefit unit). Family includes spouse/partner, dependent children and dependent adult children.
You and your spouse/partner, dependent children and dependent adult children who are living with you are called the “benefit unit”. To be eligible for ODSP:
- everyone in your benefit unit must reside in Ontario and be financially eligible for ODSP;
- you and everyone in your benefit unit must give ODSP the required information including names, birth dates, identification, as well as expense, debt, income and asset information, etc.;
- you must show ODSP that you have a disability or disabilities that meet the ODSP definition of disability.
ODSP benefits include money for:
- basic needs
- shelter costs
- special diet allowance
- northern allowance (if applicable)
- diabetic and other medical supplies
- travel costs for medical care
- work-related expenses, etc.
ODSP benefits also include Ontario Drug Benefit program coverage for prescription medications and dental care for everyone except dependent adults.
It can take time to complete an ODSP application, so you may decide to apply for Ontario Works (OW) because OW appliations can be processed more quickly so you may receive some benefits while waiting for your ODSP application to be processed. You can make your ODSP application through the OW office. For more information about OW, please see our Ontario Works (OW) Areas of Law page.
If you are receiving ODSP or OW, you must inform ODSP or OW about changes in your situation and changes for everyone else in your benefit unit that might affect your eligibility, including:
- change of address,
- change of activity (work, school, volunteering),
- change in income,
- change in assets,
- change in housing,
- change in who lives with you,
- change in family status,
- change in immigration status,
- hospitalization or if you are staying somewhere else,
- absence from Ontario (there are different rules for ODSP and OW, so you should get legal advice right away before you make any plan to leave Ontario), or
- any other change that might affect your ODSP or OW eligibility.
If you are living with HIV in Ontario and have questions about ODSP, please contact us right away for free legal advice. If you live in Ontario, you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics
If you disagree with any ODSP decision, you have the right to request an Internal Review within 30 days of the decision. If you are living with HIV, please contact us right away for advice or you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics
Here is a link to ODSP and OW social assistance information on the Government of Ontario website: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/index.aspx
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has publications about social assistance in Ontario that are available on the CLEO website and in print: www.cleo.on.ca/english/pub/onpub/subject/social.htm.
Changes to the ODSP Special Diet Allowance
There have been many changes to the Special Diet Allowance (SDA). If you are living with HIV and your SDA has been cut, reduced or cancelled, or if you have questions, please contact us for advice. If you are not living with HIV you can contact your local community legal clinic: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics.
Getting legal help
The law is complicated. Contact us for legal advice if you are living with HIV in Ontario.
Ontario’s community legal clinics provide free legal services to people across Ontario. You can contact your local community legal clinic:
- Community legal clinic information on the Legal Aid Ontario website: www.legalaid.on.ca/clinics.
- Getting legal help: Community Legal Clinics in Ontario is a Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) on-line resource that lists all the legal clinics in Ontario: www.cleo.on.ca/en/publications/ontario.
- Conseils juridiques en français par téléphone : www.legalaid.on.ca/fr/contact/flapp.asp.