September 2017

2.1 Who is eligible: Dependent Adults

Summary of Policy

A person is a dependent adult if he/she:

  • is 18 years of age or older;
  • resides with his/her parent(s) who is an ODSP applicant/recipient or the applicant/recipient’s spouse;
  • has not established financial independence; and
  • has not been determined to be eligible as a person with a disability or a member of a prescribed class in his/her own right.

A dependent adult is required to comply with participation requirements under Ontario Works. If a dependent adult fails to comply with participation requirements, ODSP income support shall be reduced.

A person is financially independent if he/she is 18 years of age or older and meets any one of the following criteria:

  • he/she resides with a spouse or has resided with a spouse at any time in the past;
  • he/she was eligible as a “sole-support student” under the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) at any time in the past;
  • there have been one or more periods with a cumulative total of 24 months in which one, or any combination of the following has occurred:
    • he/she has had net monthly income, other than child support, that exceeded the maximum monthly rate for a single person under Ontario Works;
    • his/her basic needs and shelter have been provided by a source other than his/her parents or an institution;
    • he/she has received social assistance separate from his/her parents; or
    • he/she has lived away from the parental home after his/her 18th birthday.
  • a period of five years has passed since the person ceased to attend school or receive home instruction;
  • he/she has received a degree from a university or other degree granting institution, or a diploma from a college of applied arts and technology; or
  • he/she is a parent who has, or has had lawful custody of his/her child.

A person is financially independent in any month if:

  • his/her assets exceed the maximum amount of assets permitted for a single recipient under Ontario Works; or
  • his/her net monthly income, other than child support, exceeds the maximum monthly rate for a single person under Ontario Works.

Legislative Authority

Sections 1(1); 2(1),(2); 6; 24; 39(2) of the ODSP Regulation

Summary of Directive

This directive explains how to assess whether a person, 18 years of age or older living with a parent(s) who has applied for or is on ODSP, is a dependent adult or financially independent.

Intent of Policy

To ensure that commonly accepted milestones of adulthood are considered when determining eligibility for adults who are living with their parents and the amount of social assistance that is provided.

Application of Policy

Adults who are 18 years or older who live with a parent(s) who is on ODSP or is applying for ODSP are included as part of the parent’s ODSP benefit unit unless they are eligible for ODSP in their own right or are financially independent. An ODSP dependent adult is subject to Ontario Works participation requirements.

Definition of Financial Independence

A person is considered financially independent if he/she is 18 years of age or older and meets any one of the following criteria:

  • the person resides with his/her spouse (as defined by Section 1 of the Regulation) or has resided with a spouse at any time in the past;

    Where an ODSP recipient’s adult child returns home after living in a spousal relationship and is no longer in that relationship, spousal status can only be determined if the person meets any one of the following criteria:

    • the person must sign a Statutory Declaration stating that he or she was living in a spousal relationship (a suggestion that a person has lived with a boyfriend or girlfriend is not sufficient for self-declaration to exist); or
    • support obligations exist pursuant to a court order; or
    • support obligations exist under the Family Law Act. In such cases, couples who are married, or have lived together in a relationship of some permanence and have parented a child together are considered to be or have been in a spousal relationship.

    Note: In the case of a past relationship, the Questionnaire for assessing spousal relationships cannot be used to determine spousal status.

    In the case of a current relationship and where the above criteria cannot be used to determine spousal status, the Questionnaire is used to assess the relationship.

  • the person qualified at any time in the past as a “sole support student” under OSAP;
  • there have been one or more periods totalling 24 months or more, in which:
    • the person has had net income, other than child support, that has been greater than the maximum monthly rate for a single recipient under Ontario Works;
    • the person’s basic needs and shelter has been provided by a source other than the person’s parent or an institution;
    • the person has received social assistance in their own right; or
    • the person has lived away from the parental home after his/her 18PthP birthday.
  • a period of five years has passed since the person ceased to attend school or receive home instruction;
  • he/she has received a degree from a university or other degree granting institution, or a diploma from a college of applied arts and technology; or
  • he/she is a parent who has, or has had lawful custody of his/her child.

A person is financially independent in any month if:

  • the person’s assets exceed the maximum amount of assets permitted for a single recipient under Ontario Works; or
  • the person’s net monthly income, other than child support, exceeds the maximum monthly rate for a single person under Ontario Works.

In terms of earnings, net income is the gross earnings less the mandatory deductions required by law or by terms of employment.

Election of Financially Independent Adult to be Treated as Dependent Adult

A person who is determined to be financially independent “permanently” or in any month can elect to have his/her budgetary requirements determined as a financially independent adult under Ontario Works, in their own right, or remain a dependent adult included in his/her parent’s ODSP benefit unit.

Financially independent adults who elect to be treated as dependent adults are included in the benefit unit of his/her parent. In these cases, the dependent adult is included when determining financial eligibility for the parent’s benefit unit. This means that the parent’s budgetary requirements are calculated including the dependent adult and the dependent adult’s income and assets are included when calculating income support for the benefit unit.

Financially independent adults who elect to be treated as financially independent may make an application for Ontario Works income assistance in their own right. If the person is eligible for Ontario Works income assistance and elects to receive social assistance under Ontario Works, he/she is removed from the ODSP benefit unit as of the eligibility date determined by the Ontario Works administrator.

Where the person is financially independent, continues to reside with his/her parent but is not eligible for social assistance in his/her own right, a boarder charge is applied against the parent’s income support.

Earnings of a Dependent Adult Attending Secondary/Post-secondary School or a Training Program

The earnings of a dependent adult who is attending secondary/post-secondary school full-time or the amount paid to a dependent adult under a training program are exempt as income. The exemption for post-secondary students applies to income earned or paid both during the study period and pre-study period, defined as the 16 weeks prior to the start of the study period. The exemptions for secondary school students applies over the summer break. Any accumulated assets resulting from the earnings are exempt if they are being used by the dependent adult to attend post-secondary school or will be used to attend post-secondary school. The income and asset exemptions apply until the program is complete or the person withdraws from the program. (See Directive 5.18 Exemption of Earnings of Post-Secondary Students)

The earnings of a dependent adult who is attending secondary/post-secondary school full-time or a training program are not considered when determining his/her financial independence in any given month. However, each benefit month where the dependent adult would have been financially independent had his/her income not been exempt would contribute to the 24-month period for “permanent” financial independence.

Earnings of all other Dependent Adults

The earnings of a dependent adult who is not attending secondary/post-secondary school full-time or an approved training program are treated as income. If the net monthly earnings do not render a person financially independent, then the earnings are subject to the earnings exemptions calculation outlined in Directive 5.3 and taken into consideration when determining the amount of income support for the benefit unit.

If non-exempt assets of the dependent adult exceed the Ontario Works asset limit for a single person, the dependent adult becomes “financially independent” in that month, and is removed from the benefit unit.

Note: for the month to be counted toward the 24 months of permanent financial independence, the assets must be used to support the person (i.e. provide for their basic needs and shelter) while they are not in receipt of social assistance.

Dependent adults whose employment earnings are not exempt as income (and therefore subject to the earnings exemptions calculation) are eligible for the $100 Work-Related Benefit for every month in which they report earnings.

Dependent adults who are not attending secondary school full-time are eligible to receive the Employment Start-up Benefit of up to $500, in order to assist with the costs associated with beginning or changing employment, starting an employment assistance activity under Ontario Works, or beginning an approved employment activity.

Reporting Earnings

All earnings whether exempt or not must be reported monthly

OW Participation Requirements

All adult members of an ODSP benefit unit who do not have a disability or who do not meet the criteria for non-referral are referred to Ontario Works to receive employment assistance to help them become and stay employed.

Unless they meet the criteria for non-referral, a dependent adult included in the benefit unit is subject to the participation requirements of Ontario Works. A Participation Agreement Part 2 must be completed with Ontario Works and notification provided by Ontario Works when the dependant fails to satisfy the conditions relating to employment assistance under the Ontario Works Act.

If a dependent adult does not comply with the Ontario Works participation requirements, he/she is removed from the ODSP benefit unit for one month the first time he/she fails to comply and for three months each subsequent time he/she fails to comply.

A drug card can be issued to a non-compliant dependent adult who has a serious illness or health condition and who would otherwise be financially eligible for income support.

A dependent adult’s participation requirements could potentially vary from month to month if the person’s status changes between the categories of “financially dependent” and “financially independent.”

See Directive 2.8 Participation Requirements for Non-Disabled Adult Dependants

An Adult Living with Parents and Eligible for Income Support in his/her Own Right

An adult living with parents may be eligible for ODSP in his/her own right if he/she meets the financial eligibility criteria and qualifies as a person with a disability. An application can be taken 6 months prior to the person’s 18th birthday, but income support cannot be granted until the person is 18 years of age.

The budgetary requirements of a person who is eligible for ODSP in his/her own right while living with parents are assessed separately from his/her parents. If the parents are in receipt of social assistance from either Ontario Works or ODSP, there is no boarder or roomer charge against the parent’s social assistance.

A Financially Independent Adult Living with Parents and Eligible for Ontario Works in his/her Own Right

A person (not a person with a disability) who lives with his/her parents and who is financially independent may be eligible for Ontario Works in his/her own right.

If a financially independent adult is receiving Ontario Works income assistance, the boarder/roomer charge is not applied against the parent’s ODSP income support. As an Ontario Work's recipient living with parents, he/she is entitled to income assistance up to a set maximum plus the special boarder allowance from Ontario Works.

Where an adult living with his/her parent is not eligible for Ontario Works, a boarder/roomer charge is applied against the parent’s income support.

Determining Program Eligibility of a Dependent Adult

The chart on the following page summarizes the key factors that must be considered when determining eligibility of a dependent adult. The two key factors which must be considered:

  1. financial status (financially independent or financially dependent); and
  2. disability status (a person with a disability or not).

Staff should refer to the chart in order to determine eligibility of a dependent adult and the implications for the benefit unit.

Dependent Adult with a Dependent Child(ren)

Dependent adults included in their parent’s benefit unit and who have their own dependent children can apply for financial assistance for their dependent children through Ontario Works.

Are Parent(s) on ODSP

Financial Status of Adult Child Living with Parents

Disability Status of Adult Child Living with Parents

Program Eligibility of Adult Child

Have they Elected to be treated as a Dependent Adult?

Implications for ODSP Benefit Unit/Income Support

Yes

financially independent

not a person with a disability

  • May qualify for Ontario Works in own right

 

No

  • excluded from benefit unit
  • no boarder/roomer charge applied to parent(s)’ ODSP income support if receiving Ontario Works benefits

Yes

not financially independent

not a person with a disability

  • Included in ODSP benefit unit, and subject to Ontario Works participation requirements

n/a

  • included in ODSP benefit unit
  • boarder/roomer charge not applicable

Yes

financially independent in a given month (net income after mandatory deductions exceeds $721*)

not a person with a disability

  • None

No

  • temporarily excluded from benefit unit
  • boarder/roomer charge applied against parent(s) ODSP income support

Yes

n/a

person with a disability

  • qualifies for ODSP in own right

n/a

  • own ODSP income support - amount depends on shelter and other income
  • no boarder/roomer charge applied against parent(s) income support

Yes

not financially independent; earns income below the OW rate for a single

not a person with a disability

  • Included in ODSP benefit unit and subject to OW participation requirements

n/a

  • chargeable income, after earnings exemptions and deductions, is applied against ODSP benefit unit
  • boarder/roomer charge not applicable

Yes

financially independent

not a person with a disability

  • May qualify for Ontario Works in own right

 

Yes

  • included in ODSP benefit unit
  • income and assets of adult child used to determine amount of income support for ODSP benefit unit

*as of October 1 2017

Examples of Case Scenarios and Impact on ODSP Income Support

 

Case Scenario

Eligibility

1.

Parents on ODSP

  • 18 year old
  • living in parental home
  • not attending school
  • working on and off
  • not financially independent
  • included as part of ODSP benefit unit in months where net income is below amount for a single person on Ontario Works;
  • in months where net income results in financial independence, may elect to remain part of ODSP benefit unit as dependent adult;
  • chargeable income, after earnings exemptions and deductions, is applied against ODSP benefit unit while determined to be dependent adult;
  • required to meet OW participation requirements while determined to be dependent adult

2.

Parents on ODSP

  • 18 year old on ODSP
  • living in parental home
  • not financially independent
  • ODSP amount based on living arrangements and other income for parents’ entire benefit unit including adult child

3.

Parents on ODSP

  • 20 year old sole support mother
  • has established financial independence as per criteria
  • separated from husband
  • living in parental home
  • in financial need
  • may be eligible for Ontario Works in own right
  • financial independence established because she was in previous spousal relationship and has custody of a child
  • may elect to be treated as a dependent adult and included in parents ODSP benefit unit; if chooses to do so,
    • ODSP amount based on living arrangements and other income for parents’ entire benefit unit including adult child
    • may apply for financial assistance for dependents through Ontario Works
  • no boarder/roomer charge applied against parent’s income support if in receipt of Ontario Works

4.

Parents on ODSP

  • 20 year old
  • moved back into parental home after living on own for 6 months
  • financially independent in a given month (net income after mandatory deductions exceeds $721*)
  • may elect to be excluded from ODSP benefit unit when determined to be financially independent when income exceeds rate for a single on Ontario Works
  • when excluded from ODSP benefit unit and not eligible for Ontario Works due to high income, a boarder/roomer charge applied against parent’s income support
  • accumulating credit toward establishing permanent financial independence

5.

Parents on ODSP

  • 19 year old living with common law spouse
  • living in parental home
  • neither working nor attending school
  • has established financial independence
  • may be eligible for Ontario Works in own right as a couple
  • may elect to be treated as dependent adult and included in parents’ ODSP benefit unit; ODSP amount based on living arrangements and other income for parents’ entire benefit unit including adult child; Ontario Works participation requirements apply
  • no boarder/roomer charge applied against parent’s income support if receiving Ontario Works benefits
  • if not included in ODSP benefit unit or receiving Ontario Works benefits, then a boarder/roomer charge is applied

6.

Parents on ODSP

  • 30 year old single
  • living in parental home
  • only worked for the last year, pending Employment Insurance (EI)
  • not financially independent
  • would be included as part of the parent’s ODSP benefit unit because not financially independent; income from EI would be deducted dollar for dollar from parent’s income support if under the maximum rate for a single recipient of Ontario Works in a calendar month; required to meet Ontario Works participation requirements
  • if EI is over the maximum rate for a single recipient of Ontario Works in a calendar month, dependent adult would be determined financially independent in the month and may elect to be treated as such or as a dependent adult; if the election is to be treated as financially independent, the person is removed from benefit unit and a boarder/roomer charge applied to parent’s income support; if the election is to be treated as a dependent adult, the person would be included in the parents’ ODSP benefit unit and the EI income would be deducted from the parents’ income support; required to meet Ontario Works participation requirements
  • if EI is over the maximum rate for a single Ontario Works recipient, accumulating credit toward establishing permanent financial independence

7.

Parents on ODSP

  • 21 year old single
  • living in parental home
  • has been working for one year making $200 a month
  • not financially independent
  • salary increased to $1000 a month
  • financially independent in a given month
  • salary decreases to $200 a month
  • included as part of parent’s benefit unit required to meet Ontario Works participation requirements
  • chargeable income, after earnings exemptions and deductions, is applied against ODSP benefit unit
  • dependent adult is financially independent in a given month (clock starts ticking toward accumulating financial independence)
  • may elect to continue to be treated as a dependent adult and income would be used to determine parents’ ODSP income support;
  • or, may elect to be treated as financially independent and be removed from parent’s benefit unit; boarder/roomer charge applied against parent’s income support
  • added to parent’s benefit unit (clock toward accumulating financial independence stops ticking as earnings are below OW rate for single)
  • required to meet Ontario Works participation requirements
  • no boarder/roomer charge applied against parent’s income support
  • earnings are exempt

*as of October 1, 2017

Related Directives:

2.2 Who is Eligible: Dependent Children
5.1 Definition and Treatment of Income
5.3 Deductions from Employment and Training Income
5.18 Exemption of Earnings of Post-Secondary Students
9.1 Employment and Training Start Up Benefit (ESUB) and Up Front Child Care Costs

Other Related Sites

Ontario Works Directive 3.4, Living with Parents
Ontario Works Directive 6.1, Calculating Assistance