| This page is being dedicated to providing
information that YOU, as an ODSP recipient, NEED to be aware
of! Important pieces of legislation, tips, hints and warnings provided
by other ODSP recipients are welcomed and will be posted in the order
received for the mean time. Hopefully in the future we will be able to
catagorize this section in a fashion that will make accessing information
easy. If you have a topic for a tip that would be of benefit to other
ODSP Recipients please send me an email with a brief explanation.
Never send ORIGINALS!
Always get Photocopies of material left at ODSP office!
For more information read: Sending Correspondence to ODSP
Things you need to know, up front!
The entire ODSP legislation is written by lawyers, in legal terms, or in "Legal Jargon" if you prefer. Since the legislation is written in legal terms, it is very difficult, and perhaps almost impossible for the average person to understand. This article attempts to give you a basic understanding about Refusal, Cancellation, or Reduction of income support. Should you be facing refusal, cancellation, or reduction of income support, then it is highly recommended to immediately contact with a competent Lawyer to discuss the issue with. Generally Speaking the ODSP director has full authority to investigate, assess, and make decisions (right or wrong) about your income support! In other words, the Director can give, take away, or reduce your income support as he or she believes is correct, being guided by the ODSP legislation! Unfortunately, the ODSP legislation is often unfair, unjust and not in the disabled individual's best interests.
The ODSP Regulation 222/98, Part III deals with the refusal to give income support or alternately, the cancellation of, or reduction of Income support. " Income support" is the money an ODSP applicant, ODSP recipient, or a member of the ODSP applicant's or recipient's "benefit unit" might receive through an ODSP pension. The term "benefit unit" essentially refers to the disabled individual, and all people who are legally dependant on the disabled individual. (Such as a child or elderly parent)
Refusal, cancellation, or reduction of income support can be directed at an ODSP Applicant, ODSP recipient, or a "benefit unit". An ODSP Applicant or Recipient's income support can be refused, cancelled or reduced if a member of the Disabled person's benefit unit does not comply with ODSP's requirements. (*More on this last sentence later.)
Reasons that ODSP might refuse, cancel or reduce income support areas follows:
If an ODSP Applicant or Recipient has a dependant person as part of their "benefit unit", that dependant person MUST ALSO comply with all pertinent ODSP legislation, or the ODSP applicant, recipient, and persons in the benefit unit can have their monthly cheque refused, cancelled or reduced, until the disabled person or dependant person in question comes into compliance with the ODSP legislation. For example, if an ODSP recipient had an adult child living with him or her, who was not in school, and was not employed, ODSP could stipulate that the child in question must seek employment. If the child in question did not seek employment, then ODSP could refuse, cancel or reduce the ODSP recipient's monthly cheque, until the child started seeking employment. Basically what this means is that all members of the "Benefit Unit" must strictly follow ODSP's rules and requirements, or risk the loss, cancellation or reduction of ODSP pension money.
Depending on the ODSP legislation, the nature of the infraction, and the ODSP Director's assessment, Income Support can generally be refused, or reduced for anywhere from three to six months. The Director can also refuse to give income support entirely. If the Director believes that a transfer of assets took place for the purpose of reducing assets, the Director can completely refuse to give income support. If an ODSP applicant does not meet ODSP's conditions of eligibility, the director can refuse to give income support.
Usually, the Local ODSP Director has total authority to investigate, assess, and make decisions regarding refusal of income support. If you ask for an Internal Review, or an appeal, then people other than the ODSP Director review the original decision, and may reverse it, if there is good enough reason to.
If you are notified by ODSP that your Income support is refused, cancelled or reduced, and you feel the decision is wrong, you have the following options:
If income support is refused or cancelled, it will not be provided again until your time period of ineligibility is finished, and you re apply for income support. If income support is reduced, it will not return to the previous payment level until your time period of ineligibility is finished and the ODSP recipient or the dependant in question makes a request to the director, to return ODSP payments to the original level.
What ODSP does not want recipients to know:
ODSAP recipients are legally subject to unscheduled or unexpected, or even randomly selected visits from ODSP staff at any time, day or night. If someone from ODSP comes to visit you, and you do not allow them entry into your dwelling, ODSP can terminate your ODSP benefits! However there are some valid reasons for refusing entry which may include an illness in the home, mourning, visitors in the home where privacy is of concern to the recipient, and/or religious observance.
The actual ODSP Legislation (Ontario Regulation 222/98) regarding home visitation:
To help clarify the regulation the Ministry of Community and Social Services provides DIRECTIVE 3.1 CONSOLIDATED VERIFICATION INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS For the ONTARIO DISABILITY SUPPORT PROGRAM - INCOME SUPPORT
The following is an excerpt from the Directive.
Home visits should be conducted in accordance with the following guidelines:
Here's what you need to know!
So, you are now disabled, facing disability or know someone who is and need to apply for a Disability Pension through ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). If you examine the words in the ODSP acronym, you would guess that ODSP is a Program, run by the Ontario Provincial Government that offers Support for Disabled People. This sounds like a Government run organization that helps and supports disabled individuals, right? Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth! You may quickly realize that ODSP has only two objectives. The first objective is to do their best to make sure that a disabled person does not get onto the ODSP program! Their second objective is to supply the fewest resources and benefits possible to anyone who does manage to get onto the ODSP system!
Perhaps the reader is shocked by this information, but it is true! To even qualify for an ODSP Pension, you must have a PROVABLE disability, it must be a disability of LONG DURATION, and it must be a disability that SEVERELY and/or NEGATIVELY impacts YOUR DAILY LIFE!
You will have a difficult time trying to obtain an ODSP pension if:
Getting ODSP is very much a legal process. ODSP has skilled lawyers that will fight hard to keep you from obtaining an ODSP pension, or keep you from obtaining available resources once you are on ODSP. In most aspects of law, a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. With ODSP, a person is essentially considered guilty, until that person proves his or her innocence! What I mean is that an individual who applies for ODSP is not considered disabled, until that individual proves the disability, to ODSP's satisfaction. Unfortunately, what this means is that obtaining ODSP could become a very difficult legal battle for the applicant, in all but the most clear cut cases.
ODSP Application Tips
What you need to know.
You are on or applying for either ODSP (Disability) or Ontario Works (Welfare). One of these two organizations has recently made a decision in your case, that you strongly disagree with. What do you do now?
With either organization, you will have received a letter denying your request for whatever you were asking for. If you intend to fight the decision, you will need to request an "internal review" before you can place an appeal before the Social Benefits Tribunal. An internal review is basically a reconsideration of your original request by an official other than the person who originally denied your request. An internal review seldom reverses the original decision unless you include new information that may sway the reconsideration in your favour.
The actual request for an internal review is where the OW/ODSP recipient writes a letter to the appropriate organization, stating that they want an internal review of the situation currently in dispute. The request for an internal review MUST be sent IN WRITING within ten (10) days of receiving their decision. Personally, I either hand deliver my request for an internal review, and ask for a dated and signed photocopy of it, or I send it by registered mail. I deliver requests for internal reviews and appeals by these two means, so that OW or ODSP cannot say that they never received the documents! My delivery methods force ODSP to sign for receipt of my internal review requests or appeals. On several occasions OW and ODSP have "conveniently" lost documents that I have sent them by Canada Post! Be advised that ODSP will likely balk at having to photocopy, sign, and date the copy of your request for an internal review. Be persistent though, and if necessary have an ODSP supervisor sign and date the document. DO NOT leave the ODSP office without obtaining a signed and dated copy of your request for the internal review!
Once OW or ODSP receives your request for an internal review, they have 10 days to complete the review, and to inform you of the results. If you do not receive a response regarding your internal review within 10 days, or if you disagree with the results of your internal review, you may then appeal the decision directly to the Social Benefits Tribunal.
If you decide to appeal the decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal, you MUST complete an APPEAL FORM. The Appeal form MUST be sent to the Tribunal within thirty (30) days of the date your internal review was completed. Note that the time frame here is within thirty days from the date your internal review was completed, and not thirty days from when you received it.
The long and short of it is that OW and ODSP want to deny you whatever it is that you are requesting! They don't want to give any more benefits (money) or other resources than they absolutely have to. These organizations make internal reviews and appeals time limited, difficult, and labor intensive, so the recipient will become confused, discouraged, tired, stressed out and then simply give up and quit.
DO NOT QUIT, no matter how bleak your situation may appear. KEEP FIGHTING, and MAKE SURE YOUR DOCUMENTS ARE FILED WITHIN THE GIVEN TIME LIMITATIONS. Failure to file your documents within the prescribed time limits will in all probability end your appeal process, whether you want it to or not!
WHAT TO EXPECT?
So you disagree with OW or ODSP about your case and have now filed an appeal with the Social Benefits Tribunal. So what happens now? Eventually, you will receive a letter from the SBT naming a date and a location that your hearing will be held. The hearing is usually held in the town or city the recipient lives in. The hearings are often held in large Hotel chains such as Holiday Inn or similar. You need to appear at the hearing on the proper date and proper time, so that you can state your case, and have the SBT adjudicator make a decision about your case. IMPORTANT: ODSP or Ontario Works should send you (or your Lawyer) copies of all it's documentation at least a month or so BEFORE your SBT hearing. If you do not receive all of their documentation well before your SBT hearing, REQUEST SUCH DOCUMENTATION IMMEDIATELY, both by telephone and in writing! Should you go to the SBT hearing, and do not have a copy of the OW/ODSP documents, or have not read and understood the Government documents, YOUR ODSP HEARING can be IMMEDIATELY cancelled and rescheduled for a later date. USUALLY this later date is six to eight months or even longer down the road!
You need to bring all documentation, forms, letters, evidence or witnesses that will assist you in proving your case. If you have retained a lawyer, he may come with you to represent you. If you are attempting to initially obtain ODSP, are trying to keep your benefits from being reduced, or have a similarly important case to fight, you probably SHOULD have a lawyer to represent you, since ODSP or OW will likely have their lawyer in attendance to fight against you!
With BOTH parties at the SBT hearing, the SBT adjudicator will carefully listen to both sides of the story. The SBT adjudicator will take numerous notes, so they can be re read at a later date, and a decision then rendered. Lawyers for either side may ask questions of the recipient or ODSP/OW representative. The SBT adjudicator may also ask questions of the recipient or ODSP/OW representative. When the SBT adjudicator has enough information, the hearing will be ended, and all parties may then leave. The SBT adjudicator will, at a later date consider all evidence given, and will create a written and binding decision. A decision can take several months to be completed, and both parties will receive copies. Hopefully, the SBT adjudicator found in your favour and you won your case. If so, whatever the Government denied you originally, must now be given to you, as per the SBT adjudicator's decision.
INTERNAL REVIEWS AND APPEALS
If you are experiencing financial hardship while waiting for your appeal to be heard, you may ask the Tribunal to order INTERIM ASSISTANCE. (Interim assistance is basically emergency funds to tide the recipient over until the Social Benefits Tribunal renders a decision in your case.) The application for interim assistance is included on the Tribunal's Appeal Form.
IMPORTANT: If you receive interim assistance, and you lose your appeal, withdraw your appeal, or fail to attend an appeal hearing, you will be required to pay back the full amount of interim assistance you received!
A telephone hearing is an almost unknown and seldom used alternative to a "proper" face to face SBT hearing. Basically, a telephone hearing is conducted over the telephone using conference call technology. All parties involved phone into a common telephone conference call number and can talk with any of the involved parties. A telephone hearing is useful for recipients with profound or severe physical disabilities, or recipients that have provided most of the information they feel is necessary to win their case. The telephone hearing still allows questions to be asked and answered by any and all parties involved. A telephone hearing MUST be agreed to by ALL parties involved, Or MUST be authorized by the SBT Director in the District head office. In South Western Ontario the contact information is as follows:
Ms. Susan Croft, Director
Social Benefits Tribunal
1075 Bay St. 7th Floor
A paper hearing is another essentially unknown and seldom used alternative to a "proper" face to face SBT hearing. It is basically a form of "non participant" hearing where a decision is made in a recipient's case, based solely on all the written documentation provided by both parties. A Paper Hearing MUST be agreed to by ALL parties involved, Or MUST be authorized by the SBT Director in the District head office. In South Western Ontario the contact information is as follows:
Ms. Susan Croft, Director
Social Benefits Tribunal
1075 Bay St. 7th Floor
Main contact information for the Social Benefits Tribunal are:
1075 Bay Street, 7th Floor
Toronto ON M5S 2B1
Toronto and area: 416-326-0978
TTY (toll free): 1-800-268-7095
TTY (Ottawa): 613-566-2235
Should the reader have any questions regarding internal reviews, or appeals, you may contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions. I will do my best to answer any such questions.
Download a printable copy of this information in Adobe Acrobat Format:
Appealing an ODSP Decision
Reviews can vary too much around the province but here are some of the hi-lites of Larry's recent review.
The first half of my 3 hour meeting was about my assets (bikes, boats, cars, etc) income and inheritance. The second half was about what you are allowed to have. I think that their strategy should be reversed to give the client a chance to think about what you want to claim before they start deducting off your check. I was allowed to have $8000.00 in assets, $4000.00 in gifts and that includes withdrawals from a trust account.
I was shocked to hear that we could not have any credit cards, charge accounts or lines of credit since it was considered access to cash. What happens when emergencies arise like a broken fridge?
I had all my documents eccept last years bank statments and my daughters earnings, so they sent me a letter saying that my benefits were suspended for lack of the above mentioned. I immediately replied requesting an internal review and then got a phone call from my worker saying to bring in the documents and I will be back on benefits. I then submitted the earnings and a letter apologizing for no bank statements but would keep better records for the future. This was finally accepted and I got my check, but 3 days late.
My oldest daughter just moved back home and I lost $100.00 per check and an overpayment of $486.00 for my other daughter who worked out and that is being deducted at $86.00 per check. So I lost in total $186.00 per month
Now if my youngest daughter 19 doesn't comply to O.W. (school or work) they will deduct another $100.00 per month off.
So now I take all my money out of the bank (minimum yearly statements), keep track of all the documents they want to see next year (no more no less) and do not charge anything.
This whole system must be reviewed or at least have the polices amended. There must be clauses in the Charter or Privacy Act to protect us? Who do they think they are Mice- Managing our money anyway, this must be stopped!
Note: There have recently been some changes to ODSP Policy that may affect some of the financial points Larry encountered. Beware when dealing with ODSP, remember that evidently the ODSP's first priority is to save the government money! The front line staff and that computer system that cost so much are doing a GREAT job!!!! - Malcolm
There have been many reports of ODSP offices claiming that important correspondence has not been received. We have personally experienced having our correspondence being 'misplaced' and the trouble that can present to a recipient. You MUST have proof that the correspondence arrived at the office or you most likely will have to start over and loose the time frame, this can be disastrous if you are filing a dispute and run past the allotted time for challenging a decision!
When sending material to your local ODSP office there are a couple of guidelines you should follow for you protection!!
NEVER send any correspondence of importance by standard mail!
Always, always send important information to ODSP by Registered Mail at the very least. Standard mail has a way of 'Not Arriving' and you have no way to prove it did.
Never send ORIGINALS!
If you must prove a copy is authentic have your copy notarised before sending. This can be done by many people including most Postmasters.
Get Date Stamped Photocopies.
The best and fastest way to get correspondence to your ODSP office is in person. When you leave any correspondence at an ODSP office the receptionist always stamps the items with the date they arrived. Have the receptionist provide you with a photocopy of the material you have left after she stamps it and make sure that the date stamp shows up on the photocopy.
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