Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) – Overview
Note: in November 2018, the Ontario government announced that significant changes would be made to the ODSP and Ontario Works (OW) social assistance programs. You can find more information in our What’s New posts:
- Ontario government reverses some changes that were planned for Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works – Update (2019Oct): https://www.halco.org/2019/news/sa-changes-2019oct
- Changes to Social Assistance in Ontario – Important ODSP/OW Update (2019July): https://www.halco.org/2019/news/odsp-update-2019july
- Ontario Social Assistance Review – Important ODSP Update (2018 November): https://www.halco.org/2018/news/odsp-update2018nov
If you have a question about ODSP or OW, please get legal advice (see Getting legal help below).
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).
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 (students away at school may still be part of the benefit unit);
- 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 income support benefits can include money for:
- basic needs
- shelter costs
- special diet allowance
- remote communities allowance (if applicable)
ODSP benefits can also include:
- prescription drug coverage
- dental benefits for ODSP recipients and their spouses/partners (children under 18 receive dental care through Healthy Smiles Ontario).
- health benefits (vision, hearing and other)
- diabetic and other medical supplies (may be provided directly)
- travel costs related to medical care
- guide/service dog benefit
- work-related expenses, etc.
For more information about Ontario Drug Benefit programs, please visit our Ontario Drug Programs page.
It can take time to complete an ODSP application, so you may decide to apply for Ontario Works (OW) because OW applications 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. You may also be able to receive prescription drug coverage from OW while your ODSP application is processed. For more information about OW, please see our Ontario Works (OW) 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)
- 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 in Ontario, please contact us for free legal advice (see Getting legal help below).
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 free legal advice (see Getting legal help below).
Getting legal help
Contact us for free 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 to find out about services in your area:
- Community legal clinic information on the Legal Aid Ontario website: find your local community legal clinic: https://www.legalaid.on.ca/services/legal-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.