ODSP Changes in 2020
The April provincial budget introduced new definitions of some terms and conditions affecting ODSP recipients. Some of them are to take effect in January, 2020. The new definition of “disability” may have a significant impact on who can qualify for ODSP.
The Provincial Budget
According to the government, it wants “to consolidate complex supplements and benefits into simplified financial support for people with severe disabilities.” Right now the words “severe disabilities” only apply to children who qualify for ODSP. Will this higher standard now apply to all recipients of ODSP?
The government has made it clear that it wants to take as many people as possible off benefits and get them into jobs. It is described as “… integrating supports from social assistance with Employment Ontario to improve outcomes for … people with disabilities … to encourage recipients to increase their labour force participation and achieve greater financial independence.” While this is a laudable goal, one wonders how the government will set out to achieve it. Will the goal be to get people employed or will the true goal be to get as many people as possible off of benefits, regardless of their ability to find and maintain employment?
Income Rule Changes
The government also indicated that earned income changes would come into force in January 2020.
Currently ODSP recipients can keep the first $200 of net monthly earned income without affecting their benefit amount. After reducing net income by $200, and deducting childcare and disability-related employment expenses, 50% of the remaining amount is deducted from ODSP benefits.
When new ODSP earned income rules come into effect on January 1, 2020, income will be considered on an annual basis. ODSP recipients will be able to keep the first $6,000 of net annual earned income without affecting the amount of their benefit. The remaining net income will still be reduced by allowable childcare and disability-related employment expenses. However, a full 75% of the remaining amount will be deducted from ODSP benefits.
There may be other changes which have not been scheduled such as:
- Changing the definition of “disability”. The government held consultations on anticipated changes that included considerations of disability severity and duration.
- Introducing health spending accounts for ODSP recipients.
- Amalgamation of social assistance employment services into Employment Ontario.
- Income reporting frequency.
- How the earnings of spouses/partners or dependent adults will be treated.
ODSP has never been a generous benefit system. Life is a struggle for anyone trying to survive on ODSP. The pending and contemplated changes introduced by Ontario’s government will only make it harder for our most disadvantaged citizens to make ends meet.