In July of 2023, Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefit rates increased by 6.5%, based on a cost of living formula determined by the Ontario Government. The increase applies to:
- basic needs and shelter maximum amounts for single recipients and families
- board and lodge amounts for singles and families
- the amount provided for a couple where both have disabilities
- amounts for services provided by a Long-Term Care Home or a Specialized Care Residence
Currently, a single person can receive up to $1,308 in ODSP benefits, prior to special diet, medical necessities and other allowances and benefits.
This latest increase is in addition to the 5% increase applied in September 2022, bringing the total increase to almost 12% over 12 months. Future increases will be tied to inflation.
While these increases represent a trend in the right direction, ODSP monthly income rates remain far below the poverty line, meaning that many people with disabilities are living in “deep poverty”.
Changes to employment income exemptions
ODSP’s rules respecting the treatment of employment income changed in February of 2023. Now, ODSP recipients can earn $1,000 per month from employment without any claw-back from ODSP. Above this threshold, ODSP benefits will be reduced by 75% of the employment income earned in a given month.
Before the rule change, ODSP recipients would keep the first $200 earned through employment, with additional earnings being subject to a 50% claw-back.
Some people will benefit from the new rules, while others will not, depending on the amount of income they earn through employment. We chalk this up to a “win some, lose some” change!
Rate classification issues
Many low-income Ontarians are having difficulty finding affordable housing. This is especially true of people with disabilities. In fact, many adults with disabilities remain living with their parents or other family members due to financial constraints and support needs. In many cases, these people are not receiving the full ODSP benefit rate of $1,308 per month, but are instead receiving the “board and lodge” rate of $938 per month.
Historically, this lower board & lodge rate was given to people, like students, who rented a room from someone and also received meals as part of their rent. This situation is not reflective of the reality of most adults with disabilities.
The Social Benefits Tribunal, which hears appeals of ODSP decisions, has commented that “at first blush,” the applicable legislation appears to discriminate against some ODSP recipients based on the very nature of their disability, by denying those recipients the additional monetary benefits afforded to “renters”, (SBT 1302-01315 (January 23, 2014) at para 19). Often, ODSP recipients with an intellectual/developmental disability do not have the option to live independently in a traditional rental arrangement. The classification of such ODSP recipients as a boarder may therefore engage their protected equality rights under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
PooranLaw can help you/your loved one to advocate for higher monthly benefits from ODSP. Contact us for more information!
Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.