Many Canadians are still unaware of the significant changes made to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works late last year. These changes could potentially have a major impact on you or your loved ones, especially if you have been wrongfully injured.

What is the ODSP

The Ontario Disability Support Program provides financial assistance to Ontarians who are either themselves disabled or a family member of an individual with a disability. ODSP covers basic living expenses, vision care, prescription drugs, and even career guidance for eligible individuals.

Who Qualifies for ODSP?

Any Ontario resident over the age of 18 with financial need who is disabled, a family member of a disabled person, or a member of a ‘prescribed class’ (which includes anyone over 65 not eligible for Old Age Security, anyone receiving a Canadian or Quebec disability pension, or who meets the criteria found) is eligible for ODSP Income Support.

What has changed to the ODSP?

The biggest change to the ODSP is previously you could lose your ODSP benefits as the result of a successful personal injury lawsuit, now that risk has been drastically lowered. This is because, previously, individuals with more than $5,000 in assets and couples with more than $7,500 in assets would lose some of their ODSP benefits.

Now, under the new rules, individuals can hold as much as $40,000 in assets before losing some benefits, while couples can hold up to $50,000 in assets.

Under the previous rules, any personal injury settlement under $100,000 was exempt from the ODSP asset calculation – so an individual with less than $5,000 in assets who obtained a $100,000 settlement in personal injury damages would still receive ODSP, but they would not receive it if they won $110,000 in damages. The new rules have removed the $100,000 cap for compensation resulting from:

●      Expenses – including medical expenses and even funeral costs.
●      Pain and suffering – arising from either injury or the loss of a loved one.
●      Loss of care and companionship – from either death or severe injury to a loved one.
●      All losses covered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act (except for economic losses).

More on Economic Losses

The new rules do NOT cover court awards for lost income.

What does this mean?

In many cases, the court will order compensation be paid for lost income. So if you win a settlement for $250,000, $100,000 is allocated for pain and suffering and $150,000 is for lost income, then you will still lose your ODSP benefits.

Ontario Works Changes

Ontario Works is a program similar to ODSP, but it helps Ontarians who are not specifically disabled. Previously the program limited support to individuals with more than $2,500 in assets, and couples with over $5,000 worth of assets. Now, under the new rules, these thresholds have been pushed up to $5,000 and $10,000 respectively.

Like the ODSP changes, previously all personal injury compensation under $25,000 was exempt from Ontario Works eligibility calculations, but that threshold has now increased to $50,000.

Who do the changes affect?

Unfortunately, the rules will not apply retroactively. However, all cases that were pending after August 2017 will be affected by the new rules.

Call a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

The new rules are beneficial to people with disabilities who are pursuing personal injury claims, but it can also be very confusing for applicants applying. The only way to ensure you get all the support you need and the settlement you deserve is by contacting a personal injury lawyer at Zayouna Law today.