This is a long post that covers everything you need to know about the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
ODSP is an Ontario government funded welfare program for Ontario residents with medical conditions or disability that limits their ability to work and earn.
It provides financial support to cover basic needs like housing, feeding and clothing, as well as health benefits.
We’ll start with the ODSP Payment dates for 2021. Then go into details about what the program covers, its eligibility, the available ODSP benefits, how to apply for it and how it differs from Ontario Works.
If you’re ready, let’s start:
ODSP Payment Dates 2021
Usually, ODSP payments are paid on the last business date for each month except for December when the benefits are paid a few days earlier.
For example, the ODSP benefit for December 2020 was paid on December 22, 2020.
The 2021 ODSP payment dates are shown below:
|Benefit Month||Payment Date|
|January||January 29, 2021|
|February||February 26, 2021|
|March||March 31, 2021|
|April||April 30, 2021|
|May||May 31, 2021|
|June||June 30, 2021|
|July||July 30, 2021|
|August||August 31, 2021|
|September||September 30, 2021|
|October||October 29, 2021|
|November||November 30, 2021|
|December||Yet to be determined|
ODSP payments can be received using any of these 3 options:
- Direct Bank Deposit
- Reloadable Payment Card; or
- Bank Cheque
Direct bank deposit is the preferred option. It is the quickest and easiest of the 3 options that guarantees that you’ll have access to the funds on the ODSP payment dates.
Reloadable payment card is like a regular debit card. Each month’s support payment will be loaded to the card and it can be used at any ATM, POS or for online transactions.
Cheques are discouraged and can only be used in exceptional circumstances. For example, you live too far from a bank or ATM, have a condition that limits your ability to use a debit card and so on.
ODSP Cheque Dates
If you’ll be receiving the support payments by cheque, then the ODSP cheque dates or the day you receive your cheque in the mail will likely be different from the ones above depending on Canada Post mail service in your area.
But the cheques are mailed out a few days earlier so you may actually get them by the payment dates.
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What Is ODSP?
Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is a social assistance program that provides income and employment supports for Ontario residents living with a disability.
The program has been helping recipients since 1997 when the ODSP Act was passed by the Government of Ontario.
As at October 2020, there were over 520,000 ODSP beneficiaries.
Keep reading to learn how much money you can make on ODSP.
ODSP has several benefits that can be categorized into 2: Income Support and Employment Support.
Beneficiaries of ODSP income support receive a monthly payment that covers their basic needs and shelter.
ODSP Basic Needs Allowance
The ODSP basic needs support covers the cost of food, clothing, and other necessary personal items. The amount you’ll be paid depends on the number of people in your family, their age and whether your spouse or partner also has a disability.
A single person, with no dependents, can receive up to $672 per month; with a disabled spouse but no other dependents, the maximum amount goes to up $1,341.
ODSP Shelter Allowance
The ODSP shelter allowance covers the cost of a primary residence such as rent, mortgage payments and other occupancy costs (home insurance, property taxes, utilities and so on).
Monthly shelter allowance is calculated based on the actual shelter costs up to a maximum amount that varies depending on the number of people in the family.
|Benefit Unit Size||Maximum Monthly Shelter Allowance|
|6 or more||$1,026|
In some cases where the recipient meets specific disability criteria, the shelter costs of a second residence may be covered temporarily.
Board and Lodging Allowance
Where the ODSP recipients receives board and lodging from the same source, the amount of income support is calculated differently.
That is, the beneficiary will get a single payment and not the ODSP basic needs and shelter allowances.
Family size, age of dependents, location and individual circumstances all affect the ODSP rate for this allowance.
The ODSP payment amount that can be received for board and lodging starts at $825 for a single person and increases for each additional member of the family.
You can find more details here on ODSP website.
ODSP beneficiaries and their family may qualify for some of the health benefits below:
- Prescription drug coverage: For drugs listed in the Ontario Drug Formulary or prescribed by an approved health care professional
- Dental Coverage: Children under 17 will be enrolled in Healthy Smiles Ontario for free dental care, while adults gets basic dental services and additional care if the disability or prescribed treatments/medication affects their oral health.
- Medical Supplies Coverage: covers the cost of diabetic supplies (syringes, blood glucose monitors etc.) and surgical supplies.
- Vision Care: Annual basic eye examinations and major eye examinations if the medical condition affects the eye.
- Medical Transportation Coverage: covers the cost of travelling to and from a medical appointment, if it exceeds $15 per month.
- Nutritional Allowance: Up to $50 per month for pregnant or breastfeeding Income support recipients or their family.
- Extended Health Benefit: For those that are ineligible for income support but have high health costs
- Transitional Health Benefit: covers prescription drugs, dental care and vision care for those leaving ODSP for paid employment.
You may also qualify for additional ODSP disability-related benefits such as the cost of assistive devices, hearing aids and mobility devices, and guide dog benefits.
ODSP has partnered with about 150 community-based service providers across Ontario to help beneficiaries prepare for work, find work, advance their career, and even start a business.
These are some of the supports you can get from the service providers:
- Job coaching
- Specialized computer training
- Create a business plan
- Learn money management, budgeting and marketing
- Apply for licenses and certifications
- Tools and equipments; and many more
Employment Supports do not cover other benefits that are available from other organizations or programs. You can find a list of all the supports available here.
You don’t have to be on income support to be eligible for employment support. The 2 supports are fairly independent.
And if you’re on income support but decide you want to work; the support payments will not necessarily stop.
The first $200 you earn each month will not affect your income support. After this, the support payment is only reduced by 50% for each additional dollar.
Plus you get a $100 work-related benefit for every month you work or your business makes a profit. That means, ODSP applicants that work will always be better off than the ones that don’t.
Related: Minimum Wage in Ontario
ODSP Emergency Benefit
Ontario residents that are in an emergency or crisis situation can apply for emergency benefits to pay for things like food and housing.
The amount you can get varies depending on your specific circumstances but it will not exceed the financial assistance you can get with Ontario Works. A single can get up to $733 per month and more if they have children.
However, existing Ontario works and ODSP clients do not qualify for this assistance.
You can learn more about the program here.
ODSP Rates: how much money can you make on ODSP?
ODSP payment amounts or the rates depends on several factors such as:
- Family size or the number of people in the family
- Age of the dependents
- Whether the spouse also has a disability or not
- Living condition: renting/owning your home vs board and lodging arrangement
- Your geographic location: people living in remote communities get an extra allowance
For example, here’s a basic needs table showing how much ODSP payments you can expect to get based on your family size:
If you live in a remote community, you can get an extra $272 if you’re single with no dependents.
|# of dependents Excl. the Spouse||Recipient||Recipient and Spouse|
You get an extra $102 for each additional dependent.
Eligibility For ODSP
The eligibility requirements for ODSP benefit is accessed under the following criteria
For income support, applicants must be at least 18 years old to qualify. The application can be started up to 6 months before the 18th birthday.
The age requirement for Employment Support is lower at just 16 years.
You must be a resident of Ontario to be eligible for both Income and Employment support. In addition, you have to be legally allowed to work in Canada for employment support.
This is an obvious one. ODSP applicants must have a disability or medical condition that limits their ability to earn a living and care for themselves.
The definition of disability is provided in the ODSP Act and can be summarized as:
- The applicant has a mental or physical condition that is expected to last for more than one year
- This disability directly explains why the applicant’s ability to work, care for themselves or be a member of the community is limited.
- The impairment, along with the duration and restrictions, have been verified by an approved health care professional.
Members of a prescribed class don’t need to meet this requirement.
The disability eligibility is accessed through the Disability Determination Package.
The ODSP financial requirement is only relevant for income support applicants.
To qualify for ODSP payments, an applicant must have a financial need and provide documents to prove it along with a signed consent for the information to be verified.
There is a financial need if the household’s income and assets is lower than the household’s basic living expenses.
You’ll need to provide information about all your household income and assets.
Some income such as Canada Child Tax Benefit, Ontario Child Benefit , child support and payments from a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) are exempt income and will not impact how mush ODSP payments you will receive.
Other income like earnings from a job or self-employment income may impact the ODSP income support amounts.
Similarly, some assets are exempt while others may reduce how much you receive.
Exempt assets include your primary residence and vehicle, balances in Registered Educational Savings Plans (RESP) or Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP) and so on.
An ODSP caseworker will review your documents, income and assets and verify them to determine financial eligibility.
Existing Ontario Works clients that wish to apply for ODSP won’t have to be reassessed since their financial need has been established already.
Applying For ODSP
The application process and the forms to complete varies depending on the type of support you’re applying for: Income or employment
We’ll cover the 2 separately below:
How to apply for Income Support
You can start the application process online, over the phone or at one of ODSP offices across Ontario. But note that even when you start online, you will still have to visit a local ODSP office to meet with a caseworker.
There are 2 steps to applying for ODSP income support:
- Part 1: Financial Eligibility
- Part 2: Disability Determination
The first part is to determine if you qualify financially for ODSP before the disability eligibility will be assessed. That is, the first set of online form or visit to a local office is meant to assess your financial eligibility.
You will get a decision notice within 15 business days of the meeting with your caseworker.
If you are financially eligible for income support, you will get a Disability Determination Package (DDP) to start Part 2 of the application process.
But if you’re considered to be ineligible financially, you can submit a request for an internal review. The decision notice will contain information on how to go about this.
Part 2 of the application will determine if you meet the disability requirements. DDP has 2 main parts that must be completed by approved health professionals.
- Health Status Report: provides details of the medical condition, treatments, expected duration and so on
- Activities of Daily Living Index: collects information about how the condition affects an applicant’s ability to work, take care of themselves and participate in the community.
Registered nurses, ophthalmologists, optometrists, physicians, psychological associates, psychologists, and registered nurses in the extended class can complete both parts of the Disability Determination Package (DDP).
However, audiologists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists can only complete the Activities of Daily Living Index.
Applications may be reviewed as earlier as 10 business days but can also take longer depending on its complexity and if some information are missing.
Related Post: Social Assistance Benefits & Payment Dates in Canada
How to apply for Employment Support
Applicants for employment support don’t need to complete or meet the financial eligibility conditions. This is only required for income support.
But they must complete the “Application for Employment Supports”. You can either download the form from ODSP’s website or request for a package to be sent to you by calling or visiting an ODSP office.
Unlike the financial eligibility form for Income Support, this form can not be completed online.
The second part of the application package is a Verification of Disability/Impairment that must be completed by one of the approved health care professionals. This isn’t required if you’re already receiving Income support since the disability would have been assessed.
For both income and employment support, applicants must sign a “consent to release medical information.” Income support applicants will also need to sign a consent to disclose and verify information from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
ODSP Vs Ontario Works
Ontario Works is another social assistance program from the provincial government of Ontario. Both programs are administered by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
While ODSP caters for people living with disabilities, Ontario Works has a wider focus. It is for people that need help with their living expenses.
Ontario Works assistance covers the essential costs of living, health benefits and helps beneficiaries find and keep jobs.
Eligible applicants can receive up to $733 per month for basic needs and shelter, and extra amounts for family members.
ODSP Annual Increase January 2021
Unfortunately, the Ontario Government did not announce any plans to increase the ODSP rates for 2021 or 2022.
The last change to ODSP rates were back in 2018 when the government implemented a 1.5% increase.
There have been many proposed changes to the program in recent years, including in the Ontario 2019/2020 budget, but nothing about increasing the ODSP rate at the moment.
ODSP Changes 2021
In February 2021, the Ontario Government announced it has started working with its municipal partners to better connect people with the supports they need.
This is the next step in the province’s vision for a renewed social assistance program that was announced in fall 2020. Over the coming years, the plan is to “create an efficient, effective and streamlined social services system” that helps more people move towards employment and independence.
As part of the changes, a new digital system that aims to make the application process easier and ease the burden of caseworkers is being tested.
Also, the province will oversee the applications and payments of social assistance, while municipal partners will focus on helping people get back to work and access supports for health and housing.
However, critics believe the changes are ill-timed and would cause chaos and uncertainty for ODSP recipients.
By automating the application process and reducing the role of caseworkers, the program will be dehumanized and lead to mistaken rejections.
They also believe that reassigning ODSP clients to Ontario Works (OW) caseworkers at the municipalities will affect many ODSP beneficiaries.
This is because OW’s mandate is to get its clients back to work and off social assistance quickly – something that will be difficult for many ODSP clients.
Ontario Works Payment Dates for 2021
The Ontario Works Payment Dates for 2021 are below:
|Benefit Month||Payment Date|
|January||December 31, 2020|
|February||January 29, 2021|
|March||February 26, 2021|
|April||March 31, 2021|
|May||April 30, 2021|
|June||May 31, 2021|
|July||June 30, 2021|
|August||July 30, 2021|
|September||August 31, 2021|
|October||September 30, 2021|
|November||October 29, 2021|
|December||November 30, 2021|
ODSP payment dates for each month falls on the last business day of that month. But Ontario Works benefits are paid out on the last business day of the previous month.
Learn more: Ontario Works Benefit and Payment Dates
At What Age Does ODSP Stop?
When an ODSP recipient turns 65, they may qualify for other government benefits. These include Old Age Security (OAS) pension, Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).
The total amount you receive from these benefits are usually more than you can receive from ODSP.
However, you can still continue to receive ODSP even after you turn 65 if you don’t qualify for OAS.
Therefore, turning 65 does not automatically stop your ODSP income support. In addition, you won’t have to prove that you meet the ODSP disability criteria once you reach the age of 65.
The ODSP benefit amount paid per month depends on several factors such as family size (benefit unit size), age of dependents, living condition (renting or owning a house vs board and lodging), whether the partner also has a disability and so on. For example, a couple that both have a disability will qualify for the double disabled rate of $1,971.
The maximum amount for a single person on ODSP is $672 for basic needs and $497 for shelter for a total of $1,169. Extra ODSP amounts can be received if they live in a remote community.
ODSP has a limit on the amount of assets beneficiaries can own. It is $40,000 for singles, $50,000 for couples and $500 for each additional dependent.
Yes. In fact, ODSP encourages beneficiaries to look for work and provides additional support to get them started. Also, ODSP recipients that work will always be better off financially than those that don’t.
ODSP cheques are mailed out a few days before the ODSP payment dates. So depending on the Canada Post delivery in your area, you could receive the cheques on time or a few days after.
You can expect to receive the funds shortly after midnight to early morning on the date of payment. For a payment date of March 31 for example, you should have the ODSP direct deposits in your bank account anytime from 12.01am to say 5am in the morning. There could be exceptions and a few hours delay depending on your bank.
Other Provincial Disability and Income Assistance Programs
All the provinces have their own form of disability benefits and income assistance programs. I’ve written about some of them and you can learn more about their benefits, eligibility, application process, rates and payment dates in the links below.