Dramatic Changes to Ontario Disability Support Program
Recent amendments to the regulations under the Ontario Disability Support Program Act have made significant changes to the Program, making it easier for people with disabilities to qualify for and maintain benefits. The amendments vary the asset and income limits under the Act.
Prior to the amendments, an ODSP recipient was entitled to receive payments from a trust or life insurance policy or gifts or other voluntary payments of up to $6,000 and still receive benefits. These payments would not be included in the calculation of the income of the recipient. Any payments beyond this would be included in income, and may reduce the benefits received. Under the amendments, effective September 1, 2017, these payments may now be up to $10,000. Also, payments made for the purchase of a principal residence, motor vehicle or payment of first and last month’s rent are now specifically excluded from the definition of income.
Further, the prescribed limits for assets have been altered substantially. Prior to the amendments, benefits were restricted to individuals with assets totalling less than $5,000. (Note: the definition of assets excludes a number of assets from the calculation.) Under the new regulation, an individual can have assets totalling $40,000 and still qualify for benefits. For couples, the prior limit of $7,500 is increased to $50,000.
Benefits payable have also been increased slightly: from $649 per month to $662 per month for an individual, and from $479 per month to $489 per month for an individual for shelter.
Estate planners should be aware of these changes, and the other provisions of the program, and should discuss these with clients planning for children with disabilities, and when advising disabled beneficiaries of an estate.
For a general discussion of the Ontario Disability Support Program, see my paper “ODSP: What Every Estate Solicitor Needs to Know”.
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