Ironically, one of the most rattling things that can happen to a person on ODSP Is to receive an inheritance. It is rattling because they can lose their ODSP benefits.

Lately, I have received calls and emails from people on ODSP who have received an inheritance from a relative. While they are happy to receive the money, they know they are allowed no more than $5,000 (a bit more if they are married or have kids), otherwise they can lose their ODSP. They are afraid to tell their ODSP worker and they often do not know what to do with the money. An inheritance of $80,000 is great but not if it kills your ODSP income and health benefits.

Many who have discussed the issue with their ODSP worker have been rattled even more because many ODSP employees are not aware of all the options and have been known to give misguided advice. Some ODSP recipients have been told they will need to stop their ODSP benefits and must spend their inheritance before they can begin receiving ODSP again; this is completely false.

There are a number of “ODSP exempt assets” that may be available. There is a particular type of trust that can be set up. There is the Registered Disability Savings Plan. And there are segregated funds. Each one has pros and cons, but I have helped many people figure out what strategy makes the most sense for them to not only maintain their ODSP, but also improve the quality of their lives by legitimately supplementing their ODSP with the proceeds of an inheritance.

ODSP is an important benefit to many, but it is not a measure of last resort. You do not have to spend all your money to qualify and you do not have to be financially destitute. You can safely and legitimately supplement ODSP. You just have to understand key ODSP policies.