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About our presenter… Catherine Manson is a Community Legal Worker and Licensed Paralegal with Flemingdon Community Legal Services with 22 years experience in the legal clinic system. She has been giving presentations on the Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) benefits since 2004. She is a member of the ODSP Action Coalition (Co-Chair of the Train the Trainer Committee), and past Chair of the Toronto Region ODSP Action Coalition .
Walking the Tightrope: Applying for Income Support in 2010
If one has access to the Internet – try the Eligibility Estimator found on the Ministry of Community and Social Services Website – this is a quick tool to see if a person might qualify for Ontario Works
Every Municipality/First Nation Reserve in the Province has access to a District Social Services Administration Board/Ontario Works office
1 st Step to getting assistance - Call the local office
Telephone Intake Screening Process - information required:
I.D., Housing, Banking/Financial, Custody/Support Orders, School or Training Programs and Employment information for all members living in your home
Some Shelters and/or Institutes may have Ontario Works caseworkers visit to take applications
2 nd Step - an In Person meeting will be set up at the closest local office
All original documents are required
Bring an Interpreter if one is needed, OW does not provide interpreters;
Friends or Advocates may attend the meeting,
If Denied – Ask for a “Written Notice of Decision”
Every adult person in the benefit unit is required to attend a meeting with the OW caseworker to review finances, possible employment readiness or barriers to employment
A Participation Agreement outlines a person’s responsibility to look for work, or attend a training program or volunteer through the Community Placement process
A person may be asked to attend an update meeting every 3 months
If a person is working part-time, they must be looking for i) more work, ii) full time employment, iii) training program, iv) participate in a volunteer capacity that improves employment skills or opportunities
If a person is unable to work – then a Deferral Letter or Limits to Participation form may be required and signed by a Third Party Agency or health professional to show why the person cannot work (health issues, caregiver responsibilities, religious reasons, maternity leave)
If there are children under the age of 5 and not in school full time, there is no requirement for the caregiver parent to look for work
After financial eligibility is established, then disability must be established.
Decisions about disability (medical eligibility) for every ODSP application in Ontario are made by the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU). The DAU is in Toronto and decides or “adjudicates” based on the forms in the applicant’s Disability Determination Package “DDP”.
The “DDP” forms package is given to the applicant to be completed and returned to the DAU within 90 days of receipt (not the local OW or ODSP office)
The DAU may grant a 60 day Extension of Time to submit the DDP if requested before the 90 days have expired
What Happens After Filing an Appeal to the SBT for Income Supports?
1) An Acknowledgement Letter from SBT with new File Number
2) Notice of Hearing with the Appeal Date – current practise – scheduled three to four months from date appeal filed.
3) Receipt of the Director’s Submission : Administrator’s/Director’s reasons for cancellation, suspension or variation of income benefits. This will include copies of relevant documents available to the OW or ODSP office in making the original decision
Appellant submissions – to be submitted to SBT and OW/ODSP local office or appeals’ unit 20 calendar days (for non medical issues) and 30 calendar days (for medical issues) before the hearing
5) OW/ODSP Appeal Units or local office – will review any new information and submission. A settlement may be negotiated before the hearing.
ii) a Case Presenting Officer (CPO) from OW or ODSP;
iii) an interpreter if requested;
iv) your legal representative
v) a friend/family member who can be an observer (who is not allowed to speak at the hearing)
Witnesses will be asked to wait in waiting room until called.
To start the hearing – the Tribunal Member will confirm everyone’s identity, ask applicant/interpreter to swear an oath to the truth of information to be provided; and provide information on the conduct of the hearing.
Once a decision has been received either party has 30 calendar days to file a “Reconsideration”
A reconsideration hearing may be granted if there is an error in law or error in facts in the decision, or if a person did not attend the hearing due to illness or other emergency. Was the Tribunal notified of emergency – day of hearing?
The Chair of the SBT makes the decision whether to grant a new hearing
IF a reconsideration is granted – a new or “de novo” hearing will be scheduled – this allows you to present the case again before a different Tribunal member
If this reconsideration decision is Negative – one can file leave to appeal to Divisional Court if there is an error in law
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