I am reposting this article because I have received some interesting and helpful comments. Why? Because applying for disability income benefits, whether short term or permanent, can be a very complicated and time consuming process. Contrary to what some people think, such support is not automatic just because a person has a disability. It is only for people with disabilities who ALSO have a financial need. In other words, if one spouse has a disability and the other is working, it is unlikely the one with the disability would be eligible for any government support.
Although each Canadian province has their own set regulations and procedures, provincial eligibility is fairly consistent. In Ontario the program is called The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). It has both employment and income supports. To qualify for ODSP:
- A person must have a verified physical or mental disability that is expected to last at least one year or more;
- The disability makes it very difficult for the person to take care of themselves or participate in their community;
- The person must be financially eligible;
- The person must be 18 years of age or older; and
- The person must be a resident of the province where they are applying.
There are other circumstances where a person may qualify for financial aid as well, such as if they are 65 years of age but don’t qualify for Old Age Security; they live in a psychiatric facility; and/or are about to turn 18 and, in Ontario at least, currently get a benefit called the “Assistance for Children With Severe Disabilities Benefit.”
In addition, readers who have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan will have to check out eligibility for that disability program here because if people “are” eligible for a CPP disability pension, they will not likely be eligible for ODSP benefits — although partial benefits may be possible. As well, of course, there are also a number of insurance plans that cover disability and loss of work benefits. Each such policy would have to be checked for eligibility criteria.
Whatever the case, when applying for ODSP, there is a package that must be completed called the Disability Determination Package (DDP). This package is key to acceptance and should be done VERY carefully. There are three parts to the package:
- The Health Status Report and Activities of Daily Living Index. A variety of people need to fill out this form and it should be done in detail.
- The second part of the package is the “Medical Consent Form” which must be signed so that the applicant’s doctor or medical professional has permission to release medical information.
- The final component is the “Self Report.” And, like the Health Status Report and Daily Living Index, this should be done in detail and carefully. If the applicant is not able to compose and write it themselves, someone should help them. Remember the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) doesn’t know the applicant and has to completely rely on what is supplied to them to make a decision.
Yet, even after all this process is completed satisfactorily and the person is deemed eligible, the applicant must still disclose all their assets and expenses. Sometimes this is done by phone, other times there is a form to be filled out. The reason it has to be done on a regular basis is because financial or disability circumstances can change. But, whenever this review is completed, it must be done accurately. It is an offense to do otherwise and it could mean benefits never starting or, if already started, being cut off.
What the income and expenses review involves is declaring every single asset the person has, including money in the bank. However, applicants are allowed up to a total of $100,000 of inheritance income plus a certain amount of that income allowed annually (e.g., $5000.00 for a single person). Here is a good source for those types of details.
While applying for disability benefits is a long and complicated process, the time taken can be speeded up when everything is completed thoroughly the first time around.
Note: Right now in Ontario, the monthly support for a single disabled person is $957.90 plus a drug card and certain other benefits (like dental and glasses). For a married couple who are both disabled with no other source of income, the monthly income, plus the same drug and other benefits, is just over $1600.00. Clearly, the topic of another article, it is clearly not enough for a single or married couple with disabilities to live on over a long period of time.
H/T to Jack at Jack’s Newswatch for CPP link and to Louise M. re the fact that anyone who has contributed to CPP must first apply there before ODSP.