On this page:

Part 1 - Financial eligibility

Part 2 - Disability determination

There are two parts to the application process for income support.

  • Part 1 focuses on your financial eligibility.

  • Part 2 focuses on determining if you meet the program’s definition of a person with a disability.

Note: If you require immediate financial assistance, please contact your local Ontario Works office (you can also still apply for ODSP).


Part 1 - Financial eligibility

Note: If you’re an Ontario Works client, your financial need has already been established. Speak to your caseworker about applying for ODSP income support.

Application

You can start the application process either online, by phone or in person.

Once you’ve started the process, a caseworker will contact you within five days to schedule an in-person meeting.

You will be asked to bring specific documents to the meeting, so that the caseworker can verify:

  • your personal information
  • information about members of your household
  • your household’s housing costs and other shelter-related costs
  • your household’s income and assets

Please review the list of documents you will need.

Meeting with a caseworker

At your meeting, you will be asked to read and sign these forms:

You may be asked to sign additional forms, as needed.

Your signed “consent to disclose and verify information” gives the ODSP office permission to get information about you from other government programs, organizations and other parties (e.g. Canada Revenue Agency, Ministry of Transportation).

The ODSP office will use the information you provide, along with the information from other organizations, to determine if you qualify financially for income support.

Decision notice

A decision notice will be sent to you within 15 business days of your meeting.

If you are found to be:

  • financially eligible for income support, you will be given a Disability Determination Package for Part 2 of the application process (unless you are a member of a Prescribed Class).
  • financially ineligible, and you disagree with the decision, you will have 30 days to submit a request for an internal review (this is the first step in appealing a decision)

Part 2 - Determining disability

Note: If you are a member of a Prescribed Class, you do not need to complete this part of the application process.

Person with a disability

The program’s definition of a person with a disability is found in the ODSP Act.

Meeting the definition means that:

  • you have a substantial mental or physical impairment that is continuous or recurrent, and is expected to last one year or more and
  • your impairment directly results in a substantial restriction in your ability to work, care for yourself, or take part in community life and
  • your impairment, its duration and restrictions have been verified by an approved health care professional

To determine whether you meet this definition, your caseworker will give you a Disability Determination Package for you and your health care provider to complete.

Your completed package (along with any supporting information) will be used to determine if you meet the program’s definition of a person with a disability.

Disability Determination Package

The Disability Determination Package is used to collect information about your disability.

The two main parts of the Disability Determination Package must be completed by an approved health care professional. These parts are:

  • Health Status Report - collects information about your medical condition, its impairments, restrictions and expected duration, as well as your treatments
  • Activities of Daily Living Index - collects information about the impact of your impairment on your ability to work, care for yourself and participate in the community

Health care professionals who are approved to complete both the Health Status Report and Activities of Daily Living Index:

  • ophthalmologists
  • optometrists
  • physicians
  • psychological associates
  • psychologists
  • registered nurses in the extended class

Health care professionals who are approved to complete the Activities of Daily Living Index only:

  • audiologists
  • chiropractors
  • occupational therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • registered nurses
  • social workers
  • speech-language pathologists

Important: You should also ask your health care professional to submit any additional supporting information they may have (e.g. clinical notes, hospital reports, psychological/functional assessments) that helps describe your medical condition and disability, as well as how it affects you.

In addition to the Health Status Report and Activities of Daily Living Index, the Disability Determination Package contains:

  • Consent to the Release of Medical Information (for you to sign)
  • Self Report (optional)
  • Instruction sheet
  • Addressed envelope (to submit your completed package)

Once you’ve completed the required pieces of the Disability Determination Package, use the envelope provided to send the package to the ODSP Disability Adjudication Unit.

To avoid having your Disability Determination Package returned to you as incomplete, please ensure that:

  • an approved health care professional has completed and signed both the Health Status Report and the Activities of Daily Living Index

  • for each condition that your health care professional lists on page 3 of the Health Status Report, all columns on pages 3 and 4 have been filled out (impairments, restrictions, duration and prognosis)

  • you have signed and included the Consent to the Release of Medical Information

  • you have submitted the original forms (no photocopies), along with any additional medical and supporting information for consideration


Disability Adjudication

Specialized ODSP staff—called adjudicators—review your completed Disability Determination Package to determine if you meet the program’s definition of a person with a disability.

Adjudicators have a wide range of education and experience in the health care field. They include:

  • physicians
  • nurses
  • occupational therapists
  • pharmacists
  • optometrists
  • social workers
  • chiropractors

About 25% of Disability Determination Packages received are reviewed within 10 business days.

Complex applications, or applications missing medical information, will take longer to review. A decision on these applications is usually made within 90 business days, once all information is provided.

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