Ontario Disability Support Program
The struggle that every member of our society has to make ends meet is often minor when compared to those living with a disability.
In fact, as we’ve noted in our piece on disclosing your disability to your new employer, living with a disability is a weight on your shoulders and getting assistance is a great way towards your independence.
The Ontario Disability Support Program is that support, offering you financial assistance and other benefits to help you find and keep a job. There is no shame in taking advantage of this program. It is designed to help those in need and when used appropriately, your employer will thank you for it. You have value to add to an organization and these programs will help you realize that value.
Types of support
Straight forward, income support is designed to provide financial support to cover living expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter. This support mechanism also includes benefits, like drug coverage and vision care, for those with disabilities and their eligible family members.
To qualify for income support, you must be at least 18 years old, though you can start the application up to six months earlier, be a resident of Ontario, meet the definition of a person with a disability, and be in financial need.
Your assigned ODSP caseworker will determine your financial need by calculating whether your household’s basic living expenses are more than your household’s income and assets. They do this by asking for documents that show your costs and any money the household earns. Note, this is for the household and not just relying on the disabled client’s income. The caseworker will then do more research by contacting third parties and gathering more information about your situation. Don’t view this as an invasion of your privacy, but more like a way to maximize the support you need.
Pro Tip: Though only a caseworker can decide whether you are financially eligible for ODSP, click here to see your chances of approval and to start your application.
Pro Tip: Clients already on Ontario Works have already proven their need and can be approved for ODSP income support.
Person with a disability
Your disability, its duration, and any restrictions must be verified by an approved health care professional. Your caseworker will supply you with the documentation you need your health care professional to fill out. The documentation comes in two forms; the health status report, which is a definition and prognosis for your health condition, and the activities of daily living index, which is an assessment of the impact your health condition has on your ability to work, care for yourself, and participate in the community.
The following is a list of health care professionals who are approved to sign off on both the Health Status Report and the Activities of Daily Living Index:
- psychological associates
- registered nurses
The following is a list of health care professionals who are approved to only complete the Activities of Daily Living Index:
- occupational therapists
- social workers
- speech-language pathologists
Pro Tip: Though case workers work closely with those affected by disabilities, it helps to have your health care professional provide any additional information describing your health condition.
Pro Tip: Make sure the documentation is completed thoroughly with all required signatures present for you and your healthcare professional.
Pro Tip: Don’t be discouraged if your application is denied on the basis of disability or financial determination. There is an internal review and an appeal process if you don’t agree with the decision.
How much to expect
Once approved, you will receive a monthly payment. The amount you receive will be based on your living situation. For instance, if you rent or own your home, your payment will be made up of two parts; basic needs and a shelter allowance.
The basic needs portion of the payment considers the number and age of the people in your family and whether your spouse has a disability.
It is designed to help cover the costs of:
- other necessary personal items.
Your shelter allowance is based on the actual shelter costs up to a maximum depending on the number of people in your home.
It is meant to help cover:
- your rent or your mortgage payment
- utilities (hydro, water)
- property taxes
- home insurance
- condominium fees.
Other arrangements can be made for lodging if you board with someone like your parents.
Employment supports are designed for those who wish to participate in the workforce.
For those looking to participate in the workforce, the employment support program is a proactive program that supports you through the whole process of finding and maintaining a job. Your journey will begin at a service provider such as Meta Vocational Services.
Pro Tip: Being familiar with these elements before a job interview will help you build confidence and a rapport with a potential employer as it will help you perform the job they’re looking to fill.
The Ontario Disability Support Program – Employment Supports program can help you:
- find an appropriate job
- keep a job
- provide transportation assistance
- find job coaching
- procure on-the-job training
- provide software and mobility devices that can help you perform your job
- provide for an interpreter or intervenor
- by providing assistive devices and training to use them
- with special clothing for your job
- progress to the next level in your career
- other items you may need
Pro Tip: Services offered by other public and private organizations are available which override the supports offered by ODSP. Exploring those options first will allow you to maximize the financial and physical support you require to achieve self-sufficiency.
How to Apply
To qualify for employment supports, you must be at least 16 years old, a resident of Ontario, be allowed to work in Canada, and have a disability that will make it difficult to find or keep a job.
Pro Tip: You don’t have to qualify or be receiving payments from ODSP to be eligible for employment supports.
When you are ready to apply, you can call your local ODSP office. Here are some handy links to the two documents you will need to complete. If you are already receiving income support, you won’t have to complete the verification of a disability form. Otherwise, a healthcare professional must complete it to show how your disability will affect your ability to work.
· Application for Employment Supports
· Verification of Disability/Impairment
Here is a link to find your closest ODSP office.
Living and Working
Living with a disability can be stressful and there is no shame in asking for assistance. Following these steps will help you achieve the independence and work participation you desire. Both the Income and Employment Supports are great paths to take to secure you and your family a solid future.