Not sure what dates you will receive your ODSP payment benefits?
People with disabilities require different kinds of support to survive, including physical, emotional, and financial.
This support primarily comes from family and friends, but the next most “responsible” entity is the government.
And though it might not be able to provide emotional and physical support, the Ontario provincial government does try to provide financial sustenance to Ontarians living with disabilities through its Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
Whether you are an existing or prospective recipient of ODSP benefits, you need to know the details about the program, including when exactly are the ODSP payment dates.
ODSP Payment Dates
The provincial government aims to release ODSP payments on the last day of each month. This allows recipients to take care of expenses due at the end of each month or the beginning of a new one.
It’s a relatively better alternative than releasing payments at the beginning of every month because recipients have to keep part of the allowance saved up for end-of-the-month expenses like rent.
The ODSP payment dates for 2021 are:
|Benefit Month||Payment Date|
|December 2020||December 22, 2020|
|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 31, 2021|
|August||August 31, 2021|
|September||September 30, 2021|
|October||October 29, 2021|
|November||November 30, 2021|
|December||December 22, 2021|
What Is ODSP?
ODSP, or the Ontario Disability Support Program, is a financial support program from the provincial government of Ontario. It was first passed in 1997 to meet the specific financial needs of Ontarians living with disabilities. Apart from Ontario Works, it’s the only other regular component of Ontario social assistance programs.
The core requirement for eligibility for ODSP is that the person has a severe physical and/or mental disability or impairment that’s expected to last a year or more. The disability can be either permanent or recurring and must be the most substantial impediment in a person’s ability to provide for themselves and their family.
Unlike some other disability benefits, ODSP is considered the last resort program, i.e., a recipient has to try all their other options, including disability benefit from work or federal disability benefits, before seeking ODSP.
What Are the ODSP Eligibility Criteria?
To be eligible for ODSP, an individual:
- Needs to be an Ontarian resident who is at least 18 years old. Underaged, disabled individuals can start the ODSP process six months before they turn 18 but not sooner;
- Must have a severe physical or mental disability that lasts longer than a year, is permanent, or restricts (not prevent) their ability to work, take care of themselves, or enjoy community life; and
- Needs financial assistance.
The eligibility itself can be divided into two elements: financial and medical eligibility.
Whether or not you need financial assistance depends on two factors: the cost of living and household income plus assets. The cost of living primarily covers housing and food for shelter-related costs. The income includes any money coming into a household and any assets that the applicant or other members of the household possess.
The Ontario government doesn’t share any specific guidelines and thresholds for which an individual might not become eligible for ODSP. A lot is left to your ODSP caseworker. The caseworker will look into your household income and expenses, and they research your income and financial needs by contacting third parties (for which you have to give them consent).
There are specific income and asset ceilings you need to know about:
- Single recipients can possess $40,000 in total assets and still qualify for ODSP.
- Couples cannot have more than $50,000 in combined assets.
- $500 for each dependent other than the spouse.
ODSP recipients can possess amounts under these asset ceilings and even earn interest on these amounts. As long as the total accumulated amount stays under the ceiling, they may continue receiving these benefits. This is determined on a monthly basis.
Exempt assets, i.e., assets that are not counted towards the ceiling, include your principal residence, one vehicle, funds in Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), tools of your trade, trust funds under $100,000, the cash surrender value of your life insurance policy under $100,000, and a second residence if found imperative for your well-being. Gifts of up to $10,000 for 12 months are also exempt.
If the limits and ceilings seem stringent, it’s important to remember that the ODSP is a last resort program. If you have a substantial financial support “pillar” to lean on, you might not be qualified for ODSP.
Caseworkers are a crucial part of the ODSP eligibility process. They also determine whether you might qualify for any additional expense you might incur. Consequently, ODSP recipients try to stick to their original caseworkers for as long as they can.
This can make the caseworkers overwhelmed, especially in times like the pandemic when almost every ODSP recipient tries to contact them and asks for additional funds to meet pandemic-related expenses.
For the medical assessment, you will be given a Medical Review Package (MRP) that includes forms that your physician(s) need to fill so that the provincial government can determine whether you qualify for ODSP or not.
They include medical forms A and B (to be filled by a physician, a registered nurse, etc.), consent forms, a summary of disability decision, a self-report form, and instructions for medical professionals who have to complete forms A and B.
It’s also called the Disability Determination Package (DDP), and it’s used to assess the severity of your medical condition and your medical needs. It also covers an assessment of how your disability prevents you from working or becoming an active/participating member of society.
There is an exemption in the medical eligibility criteria as well, i.e., the prescribed class. It’s a small fraction of ODSP prospective recipients who don’t need to go through the medical assessment for ODSP and only have to qualify for the benefit financially. These include people who are part of specific case classes, at least 65-year-old Old Age Security recipients, Canada Pension Plan recipients, and others.
How Is ODSP Payment Distributed?
The ODSP payment is disbursed in one of three ways:
- Direct bank deposit, which is the preferred method, as it ensures timely payments;
- A reloadable payment card, which can be used as a typical debit card for on-site and online payments; and
- Bank cheque, which is discouraged by the ODSP.
There are only a few valid reasons why you’d want to receive ODSP payment by cheque. It’s either you don’t have access to a debit card or an online account, or you are not equipped to use one. You might also live too far from an ATM or bank and prefer getting a cheque and only visit the far-away bank or credit union once a month to cash it in.
The cheques are usually released a few days before the actual date of deposit, so they may arrive at the right dates, but the reality might be different for you based on your proximity to the post office and the delivery schedules in your area. In some instances, you may need to pick up your ODSP cheque yourself, which can be a physically taxing and financially expensive trip for people with mobility disabilities.
ODSP Benefit Details
The ODSP financial benefits are broken down into three separate elements:
- ODSP Basic Needs Benefit
- ODSP Shelter Benefit
- ODSP Income Support: Health Benefits
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these elements.
ODSP Basic Needs Benefit
As the name suggests, the ODSP basic needs benefit offers financial assistance for meeting a recipient’s necessary expenses other than shelter. The amount is calculated monthly and might vary based on your individual circumstances.
A few factors used to determine the amount you will receive under the ODSP basic needs benefit are:
- Family size
- Age of dependents
- Individual benefit unit circumstances (benefit unit is the recipient plus each dependent)
- Location (recipients from remote locations get an additional allowance)
- Double disabled rate, which kicks in if the spouse is also eligible for ODSP or in a few other circumstances
The maximum amount ODSP recipients can get for their basic needs is $672 if they are single, $969 if their spouse is not disabled, and $1,341 if their spouse also has a disability. But if only one of the spouses is disabled, the maximum amount a couple can receive if they have two dependents over the age of 18 is $1,367.
The table used to calculate the basic needs benefit amount doesn’t consider families with more than two children or dependents. However, for each additional dependent over 18, the ODSP recipient will get $211.
It’s important to note that these benefits are for people living on their own property or in a rental and not in a shelter where the basic needs expenses like food and utilities might be fused in with shelter costs. Also, a recipient might be eligible for additional amounts if they need a special diet or extra nutrition when breastfeeding.
ODSP Shelter Benefit
The shelter cost is expected to cover rent, interest paid on the mortgage, property tax, utilities, and insurance. The benefit amount is based solely on the number of units, i.e., members of the household. For one person, the maximum ODSP shelter amount is $497, and it goes up to $1,026 for six people or more.
If the recipient qualifies for a second residence, they may get $455 or the cost of maintaining a second residence, whichever is lesser. You are eligible for shelter benefits even if you live in a co-op or condominium, where you need to pay your end of the collective expenses.
An Unconventional Example:
This example case is a modified version of a similar case discussed on the social platform Reddit.
An ODSP recipient gets about $5,000 as a gift from one of their relatives and decides to pre-pay the rent for the following year. They inform their caseworker about it. There is a chance that the caseworker might withhold the shelter amount they might be entitled to since the rent is already paid, even though the gift amount is well within the allowable window.
A relatively safer course of action is either to keep the amount for a rainy day or to use it for other qualified expenses like buying an accessible vehicle, clothes, necessary furniture, or other exempt assets. The first option is ideal if it doesn’t push the recipient’s total assets through the exemption ceiling.
ODSP Health Benefit
ODSP recipients and dependents get certain health benefits along with the program. They include:
Prescription Drug Coverage:
If your physician prescribes a drug that’s listed in the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary, you can get it for free or for a maximum co-payment of up to $2 per prescription if you are 25 or older. There are thresholds for OTC drugs and the number of diabetic testing strips you can receive in a year (3,000).
Basic dental services and additional services will be given if deemed necessary for your well-being.
It offers one eye exam every two years and a pair of glasses for you or your dependents every three years, along with the cost of repairs.
Medical Supplies and Transportation:
If a physician or nurse signs the medical necessity form for you or your dependents, you might get access to things like diabetic and surgical supplies. If you spend about $15 or more on medical transportation (routine check-ups, therapy, etc.), you might be eligible for transportation cost coverage.
Extended and Transitional Health Benefits:
If you are no longer eligible for ODSP, you and your dependents might still qualify for extended benefits. Similarly, if you are transitioning to work but don’t have adequate coverage, you might qualify for transitional health benefits.
ODSP Employment Benefits
While not exactly a direct financial benefit, the ODSP also offers assistance to recipients and helps them integrate into the workforce. The assistance comes in the shape of on-the-job training, coaching, mentorship, tools or gear necessary to make a living, transportation, etc. This covers the whole spectrum, from guidance to tangibles that might help a disabled individual get and hold on to a job.
How to Apply for ODSP
If you believe you qualify for ODSP and haven’t applied for it yet, you can start the online application process here. Go through the eligibility requirements presented, too, just in case.
You will need a few things before you start your application:
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Your and your dependents’ birth certificates
- Your Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) cards
- Your immigration documents
- Your banking details
It’s important to note that you are liable for providing your basic financial picture to the ODSP. It includes all costs or expenses, income, and assets. You must convey accurate information because the caseworker will perform a thorough financial assessment.
The medical side of your application will mostly be handled by medical practitioners familiar with your case.
What Recipients Think About ODSP?
The opinion and sentiment of many ODSP recipients, as reflected in their comments and discussions on social media forms, vary. However, one sentiment that’s echoed all around is that “it’s not enough”. The amounts most people receive as their ODSP benefits barely help them get by, and for many recipients, they are not even enough to survive, let alone improve the quality of life for recipients.
We might not be able to blame the department because even though it’s serving one of the most densely populated provinces in Canada, it’s understaffed and underfunded (like many government departments are). Also, it’s funded by the province, not by the federal government.
Most recipients agree that for disabled individuals seeking a decent quality of life, the best course of action is to augment ODSP through paid work as much as their disability allows them.
It might be possible for some recipients, but the disability might be too severe for many others. And unfortunately, those are usually the individuals who require more substantial financial assistance because they usually need supervision, special care, and specialized accommodation, among other things.
I think the ODSP is still better than nothing, but it desperately needs improvements. The benefit should either be augmented or melded with federal support for disabled individuals so that disabled people can still maintain a decent quality of life in Canada.
Do ODSP cheques come early some months?
Yes. For the month of December, the cheques and deposits might be processed relatively earlier.
Is the ODSP amount increased every year?
No. The ODSP benefit amounts are not adjusted for inflation. The last increase was in 2018 at 1.5%, but there are no plans in place for a 2022 increase as of now.
Can I own a house on ODSP?
Yes. A home is an exempt asset. However, you cannot pay the principal amount of the mortgage with your ODSP benefits, only the interest.
How much money can someone on ODSP have in the bank?
You can only have $40,000 if you are single and $50,000 for a married couple. But if you have other liquid assets like stocks in RRSP and TFSA, they will also be added to the asset value.
Does an inheritance affect ODSP?
Yes, if it’s not part of the exempt assets (e.g., cash, liquidity). But if it’s an exempted asset, such as their home, it won’t.
Understanding the ins and outs of ODSP benefits is important before you apply for yourself or on someone’s behalf.
From benefit details to ODSP payment dates, every piece of information can help you plan your finances.
We hope we answered most of the questions you had on the topic of ODSP, but feel free to drop a comment if you need information on something else as well.