March 2021

Directive 2.1 Program Eligibility

To describe who is eligible for ODSP employment supports and to outline the eligibility determination process.

Legislative Authority

Sections 32 (2) and 33 of the ODSP Act
Section 2 of the Regulation
Section 3 of the Regulation

Intent of Policy

To ensure that applicants meet eligibility criteria for ODSP employment supports.

Application of Policy

Basic Program Eligibility

A person may qualify for employment supports if they have a disability or impairment that is continuous or recurrent and expected to last one year or more and the disability or impairment results in a substantial barrier to competitive employment.

The determination of whether a person's disability presents a substantial barrier to competitive employment is made by considering its impact on the applicant’s ability to prepare for, obtain and maintain employment.

Eligibility criteria for ODSP employment supports are different than the eligibility criteria for ODSP income support. A person does not have to be in receipt of ODSP income support to be eligible for ODSP employment supports.

 An applicant for ODSP employment supports must provide documentation that they:

  • have a physical or mental disability/impairment that is continuous or recurrent and expected to last one year or more, and that the disability or impairment results in substantial barriers to employment that is verified by a prescribed professional (excluding people with disabilities receiving ODSP income support);
  • is 16 years of age or more;
  • is a resident of Ontario (not including tourists, visitors or temporary residents); and
  • is legally entitled to work in Canada.

If an applicant is in receipt of ODSP income support, ODSP staff only need to verify that the above-noted information is available in the applicant's ODSP income support file to satisfy basic program eligibility. This will reduce the amount of paperwork required by the applicant.

Valid proof of an applicant's legal entitlement to work in Canada can include any one of the following documents:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card - generally, SINs constitute proof of a person's legal entitlement to work in Canada, except for numbers that begin with 9. SINs that begin with 9 must be accompanied by a valid work permit;
  • Work Permit - applicants who hold work permits may be eligible for employment supports for the length of time the permit is valid. Since work permits may be extended or cancelled at the discretion of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, these files should be monitored on an on-going basis;
  • Record of Landing document (Form IMM1000) or a Permanent Resident Card;
  • Canadian Birth Certificate; or
  • Canadian Passport.

Verification of Impairment / Disability

The Verification of Disability/Impairment Form must be completed by one of the following prescribed persons:

  • An audiologist or a speech language pathologist who is a member of the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario;
  • A member of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario;
  • A registered nurse who is a member of the College of Nurses of Ontario;
  • A member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario;
  • A member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario;
  • A member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario;
  • A member of the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario;
  • A member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario (includes Psychological Associates).

The following applicants are not required to complete a Verification of Disability/Impairment Form:

  • Applicants already in receipt of ODSP income support as a person with a disability;
  • Applicants who have a previously completed a Verification of Disability/ Impairment Form if:
    • the previous form was completed by any of the prescribed persons noted above; and
    • in the opinion of ODSP staff, the impairment still exists;
  • Applicants registered as legally blind with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB);
  • Former or current students of a school for students with disabilities; and  
  • Applicants with other documentation completed by a health-care professional that confirms the disability.

Applicants who are not required to complete a Verification of Disability/ Impairment Form must provide verification, such as a CNIB identification card, school report, letter of reference, professional assessment report, or consent to the release of such documentation.

It is expected that most applicants will already have documentation that verifies their disability, and therefore, few applicants will be required to have the Verification of Disability/ Impairment Form completed.

ODSP employment supports does not cover the cost of having a health care professional complete the Verification of Disability/ Impairment Form.

Competitive Employment

As a condition of program eligibility, applicants must demonstrate readiness to prepare for, obtain and maintain competitive employment.

Service providers will work with clients to identify a competitive employment goal, disability-related employment barriers, and an action plan identifying the supports required to achieve the competitive employment goal.

Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities:

Service Canada’s Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities helps people with disabilities prepare for, obtain and maintain employment or self-employment. ODSP employment supports applicants who are receiving funding from the Opportunities Fund are not categorically ineligible for employment supports. However, to maximize the funds available under ODSP employment supports, and to eliminate duplication of services, applicants should access services through the Opportunities Fund, where appropriate, and ensure there is no duplication of services if applicants are receiving employment supports from both programs.

Ontario Works

A person in receipt of Ontario Works financial assistance is not eligible for ODSP employment supports. However, ODSP income support recipients who are voluntarily participating in OW employment assistance may also be able to receive ODSP employment supports. Service providers will need to ensure that there is no duplication of services.


Individuals incarcerated in a lawful place of confinement are not eligible for employment supports as they are deemed to not be "able to prepare for, accept or maintain competitive employment." A "lawful place of confinement" includes a federal penitentiary, a provincial correctional facility, an open custody facility, a secure custody facility and a municipal lock up.

For applicants who are on temporary absence, parole or probation, or serving a conditional sentence and residing in a community residence funded by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services or Correctional Service Canada, the employment services and supports available through the correctional system (if any) should be accessed first to avoid any duplication of funding.


Students with disabilities who wish to work part-time while attending school may be eligible for ODSP employment supports.

Students with disabilities applying for ODSP employment supports must satisfy all eligibility criteria, including the requirement that they seek competitive employment.

Students are treated in the same manner as all other ODSP employment supports applicants/clients. However, service providers are encouraged to develop a streamlined employability determination for students seeking part-time employment, including a simplified employment plan.

It is recognized that some students may not be at a point in their employment readiness to be able to identify a specific employment goal. However, they must demonstrate they are prepared to pursue competitive employment to be eligible.

Students with disabilities who are requesting help with summer employment should be redirected to the summer jobs programs offered through other employment programs, such as Employment Ontario’s employment services for youth.

However, students who began participation in ODSP employment supports for part-time employment during the school year are not required to be redirected to these other programs.

Employed Applicants and Applicants with Job Offers

ODSP employment supports may be provided to employed applicants who are in a "job crisis" and who require employment supports to maintain their current employment. Applicants who have firm job offers but require employment supports to accept the job and start work may also be eligible.

Refer to Directive 4.2 - Job Retention and Advancement for more information.


Applicants who were previously in receipt of ODSP employment supports, and who voluntarily withdrew or had their supports cancelled may be eligible for employment supports.

Re-applicants are not required to complete a new application form and verification of disability/impairment unless there has been a relevant change in the person's medical condition, disability or employment barriers, or eligibility for other program funding.

Re-applicants are required to sign a new Welcome to ODSP Employment Supports form and should participate in the Employment Information Session, unless, in the opinion of ODSP staff, it is not necessary.

All re-applicants to employment supports will be required to demonstrate how their circumstances have changed and how they will be better able to succeed in achieving their competitive employment goal prior to being deemed eligible.

ODSP staff may also establish conditions for re-application. For example, conditions may include a requirement that the applicant complete anger management training, find stable housing, participate in a volunteer activity to demonstrate motivation, or submit a doctor's note stating the applicant has completed a specific treatment. In addition, ODSP staff may establish a waiting period before the applicant can re-apply.

If the applicant's previous job placement ended less than 33 months prior to the re-application (15 months for non-ODSP income support recipients), there is an expectation that the original service provider will continue to provide job retention supports to the individual. However, in some circumstances, the relationship between the individual and the original service provider may no longer be appropriate and ODSP staff must decide if it is in the best interest of both parties if the individual selects another service provider.

The above considerations also apply to re-applicants who were self-employed. These re-applicants are required to demonstrate how both their business and personal circumstances have changed to allow them to achieve their new self-employment goal.

Ongoing Eligibility

Eligibility is not a static condition established at the time of application. It is ongoing. A client's impairment/disability may change, competitive employment goals may require adjustment, and disability-related employment barriers may no longer exist.

Clients are required to inform ODSP staff and their service provider of any changes in circumstances that may affect their continuing eligibility for employment supports.

Employment Ontario - Employment Services

In the following areas, employment services are provided by Employment Ontario instead of ODSP employment supports:

  • Belleville
  • Cornwall
  • Hamilton-Niagara
  • Muskoka-Kawarthas
  • Peel Region
  • Timmins

Related Directives

3.1 Client Pathway
4.2 Job Retention and Advancement