Families of people who have an intellectual disability often worry about their family member’s future when parents are no longer around. Community Living Ontario has developed resources about issues important in planning for the future.
This information has been provided by Orville Endicott, a lawyer who has worked on disability and rights issues in Canada for over 30 years. He is currently in-house legal counsel to Community Living Ontario.
Most people who have a disability live below the poverty line because they are not able to get full-time well-paying jobs, and social assistance only covers the most basic necessities.
- The Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) runs the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) to provide both income and employment supports to persons with disabilities. ODSP was established in 1998, replacing the former Family Benefits Act, and creating a special social assistance program providing both income and employment supports for persons with disabilities.
- Those needing financial assistance and who do not have significant disabilities are provided for under the Ontario Works Act. The levels of financial support under Ontario Works, which emphasizes that the program “recognizes individual responsibility and promotes self reliance through employment”, are roughly 44% less than those under ODSP.
- ODSP income supports have increased by small amounts recently, but they have not kept pace with increases in the cost of living. The benefits provided under ODSP consist of a basic needs allowance and a shelter allowance. Beginning in January, 2008, the basic needs allowance for a single person is $554 per month, and the shelter allowance is the actual cost of one’s residence up to a maximum of $445 per month. Thus the maximum amount of income support under ODSP is $999 per month for a person with a disability who has no spouse or dependants and who no longer resides in the family home.
- In situations where the individual’s shelter needs and basic needs are met by the same person or persons (for example, where they live with family members or someone else who provides both room and board) the ODSP income support is currently set at a combined amount of $706 per month for a single person. Persons with disabilities may qualify for the full $999 per month, even if they reside in the family home or a similar situation, so long as they can show that they pay rent at the maximum shelter allowance level of $445 and purchase and prepare their own food.
- Those living in a facility or a community residence funded under the Developmental Services Branch of MCSS receive a Personal Needs Allowance (sometimes referred to as a “comfort allowance”) of $119 per month. As the name implies, these funds are intended to be used for items the individual chooses to purchase, or that are purchased for the individual. The facility or agency itself receives the full $999 each month directly from the ODSP Branch.
- There are ways in which parents or other family members can contribute, both while they are still living and after their death, to supplement the income of persons with disabilities without depriving them of their entitlement to receive income benefits under ODSP. It is important to try to provide such additional amounts and to make arrangements for that sharing of the family’s wealth for as long as the person with a disability lives. This page will provide information about how those life-long arrangements can be made through the parents’ or other family members’ wills or by purchasing life insurance.
- The benefits provided by ODSP for basic needs and shelter are independent of the needs a person may have for personal support in the activities of daily living and learning. The cost of those support services is met in many cases by service agreements between the MCSS Developmental Services Branch and the organization that engages the support workers. There are usually fairly long waiting lists of people who need supports in addition to the financial benefits they are entitled to under ODSP.
- One stop-gap measure for those on waiting lists for support services or whose families are committed to providing support in the family home is the Special Services at Home Program, which provides direct funding for hiring part-time support workers.
- Notwithstanding the name of the program, funding is available to provide supports for a family member living outside the family home, but not in a funded residential program. For purposes of Income Tax, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance contributions, support workers in this and comparable direct-funding programs are treated as self-employed, which means that families are not required to make deductions and submit them to the Canada Revenue Agency.
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is an Ontario government program.
This program gives money to adults who have a disability. The money comes every month and is to be used for housing, food, and clothing.
To get ODSP you must:
- live in Ontario
- have little or no income
- have little or no assets such as a large savings account, stocks, or bonds
- have a disability
You may also be able to get ODSP if you:
- are 65 or older and receiving disability benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and if you are not eligible for Old Age Security (OAS)
- live in a psychiatric facility
- live in a facility under the Developmental Services Act or in a home under the Homes for Special Care Act, or
- are about to turn 18 and currently get a benefit called the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Benefit
ODSP provides these supports and benefits for:
- prescription drugs and basic dental care
- wheelchair/mobility device repairs and batteries
- hearing aids
- special diet allowance
- diabetic supplies
- money for transportation to attend medical appointments
ODSP gives extra funding for people who receive the ODSP monthly money and who are:
- looking for a job
- starting or changing jobs
- participating in a training program
Ontario Disability Support Program - http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/programs/odsp.htm
Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Benefit –