The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides a monthly income to adult Ontarians with disabilities who qualify for the program. There are two fundamental factors a person must satisfy to secure ODSP. One, a person must have a disability that satisfies the program’s definition and, two, the person must be in financial need.
To satisfy ODSP’s definition of disability, one must have a physical or mental impairment; it must be substantial; it must last for at least a year; and it must significantly restrict the ability to attend to personal care, functioning in the community, or functioning in the workplace. The definition of disability is an entire topic of its own, not meant for this piece, but important to be aware of at least the basic factors.
Even if somebody satisfies the definition of disability, they will not be eligible for ODSP if they do not pass that financial test, first. Until the applicant passes the financial test, ODSP will not examine the medical aspects of the application. So, before you run to your medical practitioner to fill out the medical forms, you might want to determine financial eligibility first.
ODSP is an income and asset tested benefit. In other words, the amount of income you earn and assets you hold are a major consideration to qualify, since the program is geared for people in financial need.
There is no hard and fast rule about the maximum amount of income you are allowed to earn and still qualify for ODSP. Suffice it to say, if the applicant earns a comfortable income, there is a reasonable chance they will be denied.
An individual is not allowed to have more than $40,000 in “non-exempt” assets and a couple is not to have more than $50,000 (add $500 for every dependent). If these limits are exceeded, ODSP can be revoked. Non-exempt assets include most investments, cash, most property, and pretty much anything ODSP deems to have value and is prohibited.
“Exempt” assets include your own residence, your primary vehicle, necessary household and personal items, cash surrender value in a life insurance policy up to certain limits, RESPs, RDSPs, and a pre-paid funeral. An ODSP recipient could own a $400,000 residence and a $20,000 vehicle and still receive ODSP payments.
ODSP applicants who have cash, investments, real estate (other than a primary residence), ownership in a business or other assets worth more than $40,000, combined, are not able to simply rid themselves of these assets by giving them to another family member, for example. Assets must be disposed of at fair market value, so giving them away does not work. However, what can be done, at least in some circumstances, is transfer non-exempt assets into exempt assets. Before making such transactions, you are strongly advised to consult with a lawyer and/or financial professional who understand ODSP rules and regulations.
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You can contact Ron Malis at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can a ODSP person own an 400,000 dollar home and still get ODSP ,i have an 100,000 home and a car worth 1000, and they want me to sell it either way.
if i live in the house, they say i cant afford it on my own and if i move out, they say i cant have it cause its an asset. I cant win, I don’t want to lose my home but i need help with money.
I have come across similar situations in the past. As I understand it, their thinking is that you don’t own your home outright. You own three quarters of your home. If you had no mortgage on your home and the cost of maintaining your home (property tax, bills, etc.) could be covered by your ODSP benefits, they wouldn’t have as much of an argument. However, I understand that is not the case with you and I don’t have a ready solution for you.
You might want to contact a lawyer who is an expert on ODSP directives before you make any decisions. A lawyer with experience navigating the relevant legislation should be able to give you a much more expert opinion on what options you have. My experience is that not all ODSP workers have a deep understanding of ODSP directives because those directives are so complex. While many ODSP employees do understand many of the nuances of the directives, there are others who do not. In complicated situations such as yours, legal advice could be very helpful.
If you do want the names of lawyers with ODSP expertise, please contact me and I will provide you with some names.
I have been on ODSP for 8 years now for mental health reasons. I am doing quite a bit better now. I managed to go back to school for a 3 year program that because of ODSP I was able to do in 5.5 years. I have finished school and I worked for a little bit (most of my income was exempt because it was a school related co-op job) but then I had a relapse for about a year and did not work. I started working part-time this year and I am now making more then I spend (I have cheap rent and few costs). I would like to save for the future. I own a car worth about $1000 that I bought when I was in school. I still had about $1000 saved up from when I was in school and I have saved another $1000. At the rate I am going I will be over the asset limit in 1 to 2 years. Is there any options for me except to just spend more money? I hope to be able to go back to work full time in the near future but if I can’t does that mean I can never have more then $5000 saved. After having been poor for so long the idea of having a emergency fund/ nest egg seems very important to me. As far as I can tell I am too functional day to day to qualify for an RDSP. Do you know of any other options. This is stressing me out a lot and the more stressed I am the less likely I will be able to keep working.
One option which I have written about is the use of a segregated fund account. ODSP recipients are allowed to have up to $100,000 in segregated funds, annuities, cash value life insurance, and non-discretionary trusts, combined. So, if you do not have any life insurance policies with cash value, annuities or assets in a non-discretionary trusts, you should be allowed up to $100,000 in segregated funds. However, I strongly recommend consulting with an advisor who has an understanding of ODSP before you take any action (i.e. you should not take my comment as financial advice as I do not have a comprehensive understanding of your situation).
Reading the following article will give you more information: Segregated Funds Saved My ODSP
I have found information on your site to be clear and helpful. Perhaps you could answer one question for me. I have recently been approved for ODSP and my husband has recently started receiving a small CPP, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement. I thought his pension would be deducted dollar for dollar from my ODSP but I have also heard that might not be the case. Could you please clarify for me. Thanks you
My understanding is that ODSP is reduced dollar for dollar….I have read a fair bit on this topic and have not read anything to the contrary. However, maybe there is an exception when OAS/GIS/CPP income belongs to the spouse. I just have not read anything to that effect.
You can refer to ODSP Policy Directives for more information: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/social/directives/#is
How can you be working at all? From my understanding of ODSP, any money you make causes your benefits to be clawed back at a 2 for 1 rate. Given how low the benefits are in the first place, any modest amount of work, even at minimum wage, would quickly wipe out all your benefits.
“Actually that is not how it works. If you are on ODSP and working, the first $200 net earned every month does not affect your ODSP. Every dollar you earn above and beyond the initial $200, reduces your ODSP by 50 cents.
Example: If you receive $1,100 per month from ODSP and earn $1,400 net from employment, your ODSP would be reduced by $600 down to $500 per month. The first $200 of the $1400 does not affect ODSP, so that brings it down to $1200. Divide $1200 by 2 and that leaves you with $600. $1,100 less $600 leaves you with $500 in ODSP.
Instead of $1,100 from ODSP, you get $500 from ODSP and $1400 from employment, totaling $1,900. Therefore you see a net increase of $800 in monthly income.”
My doctor says I”m eligible for odsp since I have schizophrenia. I have about $50000 in my bank account which r my savings from working till date. Due to the disease I’m unable to work. I don’t have car or any property. Do I qualify for odsp? If yes, how much estimated do I receive?
Currently, you have more than the allowed asset limit of $5,000 because it is in your bank account. You may be able to move the money into an exempt asset, such as an RDSP or segregated funds, but you should consult with a financial advisor or a lawyer who understands ODSP regulations before you make any decisions.
With the $50,000 I also have a car on my name worth $22000 which my brother drives. Because of less insurance, he purchased it under my name. Would it affect my odsp, Ron?
Ron, I am on CPP disability and also Blue Cross disability from my last job. I am divorced, and when the money came through I invested it. I draw $600 per month from it to help me pay my bills. I live in a one bedroom apartment, and it takes most of my disability cheque just for the rent. Would I be eligible for ODSP? I moved back home to ON from the maritimes after my divorce. It would help me a lot if I could even just get help with my medications. I am on my ex-husband’s drug plan right now, but don’t know when that could end. I sweat every time I go to pay for prescription. I’ve been disabled for 13 years, and don’t see my situation changing any time. I have $90,000 invested. It stays pretty even with my draws using up any interest. Thanks in advance for any advice.
Qualifying for ODSP would depend on a few factors. Your $90,000 of investments pushes you over the $40,000 asset limit, unless the majority of that money was in an exempt asset, such as an RDSP account, or segregated funds. If the money isn’t in an exempt asset, it could be possible to move the necessary amount into an exempt asset.
Another factor they would examine is your income from CPP-D and Blue Cross disability. If the combined amount from those two sources is greater than the amount you would otherwise be eligible for from ODSP, I don’t believe you would qualify for ODSP. If the combined amount is less than the amount you would qualify for from ODSP, and you qualify for ODSP in all other respects, you would qualify for ODSP, but the amount you would receive from ODSP would be reduced by the amount you receive from CPP-D and Blue Cross. You should get the full drug benefit, though.
Without knowing more about your case, my sense is that things really depend on the amount you receive from CPP-D and Blue Cross. A single person with no dependents in a rental situation would receive $1151 for Basic Needs and Shelter from ODSP. It is possible to get more, depending on your situation. If your CPP-D and Blue Cross combined is greater than $1151 (assuming that is what you would get), eligibility is not likely. If it is under the $1151, you could likely move the necessary amount of your assets into an exempt asset so you qualify from an asset perspective as well.
Before you take any action (i.e. change your investments), you should consult with a lawyer or financial advisor who has experience with this area of ODSP.