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Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Law
(01 November 2012)

Chapter 3 - Income Support


  1. Overview
    (a) General
    (b) Example
    (c) Budgetary Requirements
  2. Renters and Home Owners
    (a) Overview
    (b) Basic Needs
    (c) Shelter
    . Definition
    . Maximum Shelter Amounts
    . Shared Accomodation Shelter Expense Allocation
    . Shared Accomodation Shelter Expense Allocation in Public Housing
    (d) Maximum Basic Needs and Shelter for Two Spouses
    (e) Northern Supplement
  3. "Boarders and Lodgers"
    (a) Background
    (b) ODSP Misinterpretation
    (c) Budgetary Requirements Calculation
    (d) "Boarding and Lodging" Component
    (e) "Boarding and Lodging" Northern Supplement
  4. Special Diet Supplement
    (a) Overview
    (b) Comment
    (c) Eligibility
    (d) Transition Rules from FBA
    (e) Transition Rules from November 2005 Changes
  5. Pregnancy Supplement
  6. Sponsored Immigrants
    (a) Overview
    (b) Budgetary Requirements of Recipients NOT Living in Sponsor-Controlled Premises
    (c) Treatment of Recipients Living in Sponsor-Controlled Premises
    . Overview
    . Calculation of "Deemed Income"
    . Exceptions
    . Comment
  7. Prisoners
  8. Institutional Residents
    (a) Overview
    . Categorically-ODSP eligible
    . Otherwise-ODSP Eligible
    . ODSP-Ineligible
    (b) Categorically-ODSP Eligible
    . Psychiatric Facilities
    . Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
    . Homewood Health Centre (Guelph)
    . Homes for Special Care Act Facilities
    . SSPSIPDD/A Facilities
    (c) Otherwise ODSP Eligible
    . Overview
    . Long-Term Care Homes
    . Facilities for the Chronically-Ill
    . Corrections-Related Community Resource Centers
    . CFSA Facilities
    . Residential Schools for Vision or Hearing Impaired
    . Women's Shelters
    . Hospitalization
    . Residential Substance Addiction Treatment Programs
    . Homeless in Shelters and Living Rough
    (d) ODSP-Ineligible
________________________________________


1. Overview

(a) General

This chapter discusses the primary elements of income support, which include "shelter", "basic needs" and as well some supplements (special diet, pregnancy allowance, northern allowance) which can be added to a recipient's cheque.

While the ODSP definition of "income support" formally also includes most additional "benefits" (ie. drug card, special diet, transportation aid, community start-up and maintenance allowance, etc), which may or may not be provided in money form [Act s.2], these latter are discussed in Ch.4: "Benefits" (see especially Ch.4, s.1: "Important Explanatory Note").

Essential to determining the amount of income support (the amount of the cheque or direct deposit) is the concept of "budgetary requirements" ("BRs"). The following simple formula sets out how income support is determined [Reg s.29(1)]:
Amount of Income Assistance = Budgetary Requirements minus deductions
Deductions such as chargeable income are discussed in Ch.7: "Income Rules". Overpayment deductions are discussed in Ch.11, s.3: "Director Decisions: Overpayments".

(b) Example

Assume a single recipient with a rent of $500 living alone in a bachelor apartment, with $200 chargeable (ie. deductible) income (this is NOT the same as gross employment income). Currently the calculation for this applicant is:
$596 Basic Allowance
$479 Shelter (maximum)
-------
$1075 Budgetary Requirements
($200) Deductible Income
-------
$875 Income Support Amount
(c) Budgetary Requirements

"Budgetary requirements" ("BRs") are amounts, designated by charts and formula below) established by the ODSP regulations, that are allocated for the components of an allowance: mainly, the "shelter" component and "basic needs" component. The amount of these components varies with the size and make-up of the "benefit unit" (another key concept which is explained in Ch.2: "Claimants"). Of course, the more dependents in the benefit unit, the higher the budgetary requirements.

The 'basic needs' component is fixed at an amount which depends on the size and make-up of the benefit unit and is meant for general living expenses like food and clothes.

The shelter component is set at a maximum amount. If a recipient's shelter expense is LESS than the maximum, they get the smaller amount. If the shelter expense (eg. rent) is MORE than the maximum, they only get the maximum [there is an exception to this for exceptional heating costs, see s.2(c) below].

Generally, the total of "basic needs" and "shelter" components equals the total "budgetary requirements". There are however additional amounts (discussed below), such as special diet and pregnancy allowance, which can also increase a recipient's "budgetary requirements".

Note however that "boarders" (and "lodgers") - as opposed to renters and owners - are subject of a different calculation for budgetary requirements. This treatment and the definition of a "boarder" is explained below in s.3.

The concept of "budgetary requirements" also plays a key role in establishing ODSP financial eligibility. If an applicant's monthly deductions are greater than the BRs, then (generally) they are not eligible for income support on the basis of their income, at least for that month (see Ch. 7: "Income Rules").
Note Re Shared Custody or Shared CCTB Eligibility for a Dependent Minor

Where an applicant/recipient shares either physical custody of a child on an approximately equal basis, or shares eligibility for the Canada Child Tax Benefit on behalf of the child as a shared custody parent, most non-shelter elements of budgetary requirements above (ie. basic needs, northern allowance, special diet and pregnancy supplement) are reduced by 50% of the amount attributable to that child [Reg s.33.2]. Such 'sharing' of dependent minor children is generally discussed at Ch.2, s.5, and is specifically noted in both the "renter" and "boarder" discussions below.

2. Renters and Home Owners

(a) Overview

This category: "renters and owners" [Reg s.30] applies to determine budgetary requirements in most recipients' situations (including those of homeless people not living in shelters). The status of homeless applicants is generally addressed in the welfare (Ontario Works) program in Chapters 2: "Claimants" and Ch.3: "Basic Assistance".

The budgetary requirements of those who receive 'board and lodging' (room plus meals) are treated separately in section 3 below. The definition of "boarder/lodger", as opposed to 'renter', is discussed at length in that section.

The following are the items (each explained below) included in determining the BRs of a "renter/owner":
  • Basic needs [s.2(b) below]
  • Shelter [s.2(c) below](renter/owner)
  • Northern supplement [s.2(e) below]
  • Special diet [s.4 below]
  • Pregnancy Supplement [s.5 below].
Note Re Shared Custody or Shared CCTB Eligibility for a Dependent Minor

Where an applicant/recipient shares either physical custody of a child on an approximately equal basis, or shares eligibility for the Canada Child Tax Benefit on behalf of the child as a shared custody parent, most non-shelter elements of budgetary requirements above (ie. basic needs, northern allowance, special diet and pregnancy supplement) are reduced by 50% of the amount attributable to that child [Reg s.33.2]. Such 'sharing' of dependent minor children is generally discussed at Ch.2, s.5.
(b) Basic Needs

These are amounts fixed by law as below [Reg s.30(1)1].


# of Non-Spousal DependentsDependents 18 plus Dependents 13-17 yrsDependents 0-12 yrsRecipientRecipient & Spouse
(one ODSP)* Note 2
Recipient & Spouse
(both ODSP)* Note 1
00005968821,189
10017398821,189
10107579001,207
11009511,0631,370
20027398821,189
20117579001,207
20207759181,225
21019511,0631,370
21109691,0811,388
22001,1331,2641,571

For each additional dependent 18 years and older: add $202.
For each additional dependent 13-17 years add: $18.
For each additional dependent 12 years or younger: add $0

Note 1:
The last column: "Recipient and Spouse (both ODSP)" applies to situations where both applicant and spouse are ODSP-eligible BUT ONLY where their eligibility is based on either:

- being found to be a "person with a disability" (the most common);
- being CPP-disabled eligible;
- grand-parenting of FBA eligibility on basis of being blind, disabled or PUE (permanently unemployable) status.

Practically this covers most situations of dual-ODSP eligibility. While it does NOT apply where ODSP eligibility is based on facility or institutional residence as discussed in Ch.2 "Substitutes for PWD Status", such a recipient would not normally be co-habiting with spouses at such times. Similarly, most other grand-parenting categories are now either spent due the age of the recipient (over 60 or 65 years of age categories), or were 'hived-off' to the Ontario Works (welfare) system (single parents) in June of 1998.

Note 2:
See sub-section (d) "Maximum Basic Needs and Shelter for Two Spouses", below.

Example:

Benefit unit made up of a two adult spouses (one is ODSP disabled) and two children aged 7 and 14.

The "recipient and spouse" (vertical) column (2nd from right) should be used because there are two spousal adults, one of whom is ODSP eligible. The sixth (horizontal) line down should be used because one child is between 1-12 years and one is between 13-17 years old.

Therefore the "basic needs" component for this benefit unit is $900.

If the benefit unit had another child aged 15 then add another $18.

OCB Note:
Since July 2008 basic needs amounts for children were reduced in conjunction with the introduction of the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) and the elimination of the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) clawback. Under this change recipients are, for the most part, presumed to be in receipt of OCB and the NCBS - thus making up for the basic needs reduction. The Ontario Child Benefit scheme is explained in detail at Ch.7, s.6.

(c) Shelter

. Definition

'Shelter' refers to expenses related to maintaining a dwelling place which is a principal residence. It does not include expenses related to premises or buildings in which the benefit unit does not reside.

Note that where a recipient is RECEIVING rent as a landlord or as a chief tenant subletting), then such rental income is assessed SEPARATELY from the shelter expense calculations set out here (see Ch.7, s.4: "Income Rules: Rent Paid to a Claimant").

The "shelter" component of the budgetary requirement of a renter/owner is determined by totalling the amount of the following monthly expenses, subject to maximums set out in the chart below [Reg s.31].

Eligible shelter expenses include:
  • rent for dwelling place, other than amounts for parking and cable;

  • principal and interest on a mortgage, loan or an Director-approved repair loan respecting the property;

  • occupancy costs paid under an agreement to purchase the dwelling place;

  • property taxes;

  • premiums for an insurance policy with respect to the dwelling place or its contents;

  • reasonable and necessary expenses, approved by the administrator, for the preservation, maintenance and use of the dwelling place;

  • if the shelter is a condominium or co-op housing then the common expenses required, except that portion of the common expenses allocated to the cost of energy for heat;

  • cost of an energy source used for household purposes other than for heat (eg. hydro);

  • water and sewage;

  • rent of a furnace and a hot water heater;

  • rent under a land lease;

  • the cost of energy for heat.
In most situations the largest of these expenses will be rent or mortgage payments. Typically this alone is enough to push the shelter expense to the maximum allowed (see chart below).

. Maximum Shelter Amounts

The total of the above shelter expense covered cannot exceed the maximums set out here (EXCEPT in the rare situation where the cost for heat exceeds the maximum shelter amount, then the shelter cost shall be the actual cost for heat [Reg s.31(2)4]).

Benefit Unit SizeMaximum Monthly Shelter Allowance
1479
2753
3816
4886
5956
6 or more990
Note 1:
Where the benefit unit consists of only the recipient and a spouse, see sub-section (d) "Maximum Basic Needs and Shelter for Two Spouses", below.

Note 2:
Where a co-resident applicant and a spouse are both eligible in their own right for ODSP under the conditions set out in Note 1 above, then the shelter allowance will be increased by $68 per month [Reg 31(2)5].
. Shared Accomodation Shelter Expense Allocation

Prior to 01 August 2010 the General Regulation included rules for how to allocate the shelter component of budgetary requirements when benefit unit members shared accomodation with others not in their benefit unit (ie. those not on social assistance, and those in another benefit unit). On that the date those rules were repealed.

The starting principle (the formula was a bit complex) of calculating the shelter component under those rules was a simple equal division of shelter costs for the residence (typically rent and utilities) amongst the sharing adult co-residents (children were not 'counted').

One beneficial feature of the calculation under the old rules was that no shelter 'share' was allocated to anyone who provided daily physical assistance on an ongoing basis to the recipient or spouse where the recipient or spouse requires assistance in order to function in a community setting (ie. a "care-giver"). The net effect of that rule was to increase the shelter expense of the care recipient for ODSP budgetary requirement purposes (which was beneficial if the maximum shelter amount had not yet been reached), without influencing the 'contractual' sharing arrangements made between the 'sharers'. Those rules happily tolerated situations where the shelter component allocated to the benefit unit was actually more than what they in fact paid.

With the repeal of these rules the determination of the shelter component of a single ODSP recipient or benefit unit that shares accomodation must default to the actual financial terms of the sharing. So if a two-adult and one child benefit unit shares a $1000 apartment (while paying $400), with a single adult not on social assistance (paying $600), then the benefit unit's shelter component will be $400 - in accordance with the co-resident's actual 'contractual' sharing arrangement.

This 'new' rule (or non-rule) thus creates an incentive for sharing residents (whether on social assistance or not), to set the agreed rent and utilities share of the benefit unit at - or close to - the maximum shelter component available (in that example, and at the date of writing that amount would be $816).

Extreme examples of such arrangments (eg. where the benefit unit is allocated all of the common shelter expenses, while the others pay nothing) could be limited by the 'improvident disposition of assets' provisions [see Ch.8, s.7], or even - quite conceivably - as a form of conspiracy to defraud the government. It remains to be seen how vigorously ODSP (and welfare administrators, where a similar repeal was made) will push the issue.

Lastly, keep in mind that situations where recipients themselves act as landlords or chief tenants (ie. subletting) are not sharing situations. Those are treated as conventional landlord/tenant situations with the sublettor (chief tenant) being in the position of the landlord, and the sublessee being the 'tenant'. As well, in situations where a recipient is the sublettor, income chargeability against them from such arrangements is treated in accordance with the normal income rules for landlords (see Ch.7 "Income Rules: Rent Paid to a Claimant").

. Shared Accomodation Shelter Expense Allocation in Public Housing

There is a specific provision in the General Regulation addressing the allocation of shelter expense when a recipient resides in public subsidized housing with others who are not in the benefit unit [Reg 31(2)6]. It provides that "shelter does not include that portion of the rent for which the applicant or recipient is liable with respect to a person living in that rental accommodation who is not a member of the benefit unit."

This provision anticipates joint liability for the full rent shared between such people, but leaves the determination of the benefit unit's shelter expense ambiguous as the determination of the recipient's "share" is a matter of policy established by the housing provider. In such cases inquiries can be made of the housing provider - however as a matter of practice ODSP simply applies the shelter 'splitting formula' set out above in "Shared Accomodation Shelter Expense Allocation".

Note that situations of sub-letting within such subsidized units are typically barred by public housing rules.

(d) Maximum Basic Needs and Shelter for Two Spouses

The maximum payable ("cap") for a spousal couple for shelter and basic needs is $1,796 [Reg 30(2)].

The 'stripped down' (basic needs and shelter only: see above) eligibility of a spousal couple with one "person with a disability" is presently $1,635 ($753 shelter + $882 basic needs), while the same for a spousal couple both being "persons with a disability" is $1,957 ($700 shelter + $1,189 basic needs + the $68 s.31(2)5 'top-up'). This "cap" therefore would invariably limit the amount payable to a dual-disabled couple, but not that of a single-disabled couple except in the unusual case where the actual cost of excessive heating expense is covered (see sub-section (c): "Shelter: Maximum Shelter Expense", above).

Of course, couples are still entitled to have their budgetary requirements increased above this "cap" by special diet, pregnancy and northern supplements - and to the "benefits" set out in Ch.4: "Benefits".

(e) Northern Supplement

If the benefit unit resides north of the 50th parallel and does not have year round road access then add the following amounts to "budgetary requirements" [Reg s.30(1)2]:

# of Non-Spousal DependentsRecipientRecipient & Spouse
0158261
1260308
2302351
For each additional dependent: $46

3. "Boarders and Lodgers"

(a) Background

ODSP has a separate way of calculating budgetary requirements where the recipient "receives board and lodging from the same source" [Reg s.33(1)] (as opposed to "renters and owners", discussed above).

The terms "boarders' and 'lodgers' are old common law terms that refer to what are technically known as 'licensees' - a term largely superceded by statutory changes rolling them into residential tenancy law as full "tenants".

The common law has its own test as to when it will categorize an occupation of premises as a "license" (ie. boarder or lodger) rather than as a "tenancy". This test is flexible and looks at a variety of characteristics (all of which are judged cumulatively), such as (there can be more):
  • absence of exclusive possession (the primary criterion: whether the occupant DOES NOT have the contractual right to sole possession of the premises);

  • only one private room;

  • sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen (ie. the unit is NOT self-contained);

  • whether the unit is part of a building referred to as a 'boarding house' for municipal regulation purposes.
A "boarder" was a licensee who got a room AND meals (although technically it could mean just meals) and a "lodger" just got a room. These old distinctions still persist in ODSP and welfare law - although they are often misinterpreted by ODSP authorities. Because of this recipients should not complacently accept the categorization placed on them by ODSP, and may want to consider advocating for or appealing for a change to "renter" in order to increase assistance.

(b) ODSP Misinterpretation

For purposes of determining budgetary requirements, ODSP law doesn't distinguish between "boarders" (ie. with meals) and "lodgers" (ie. without meals) as discussed above [though it does for purposes of boarder/lodger rental income: see Ch.7: Income Rules"]. The budgetary requirements of both are determined under the same rules [sub-section (c) below].

However ODSP - and welfare - tend to treat ANY situation where food is provided by the landlord under these rules - EVEN THOUGH the underlying legal relationship is one of tenancy - not license. Thus a recipient living in a full tenancy (ie. a conventional apartment with exclusive possession), and also getting meals included in the arrangement - is typically wrongly assessed under the "boarder/lodger" rules. These situations arise sometimes when older parents allow their adult son or daughter to reside in a separate self-contained apartment - attached or close to the main family home (eg. a basement apartment) - with parents providing meals for their disabled offspring.

All that being said, which categorization of living arrangement is most advantageous to the recipient is not always clear-cut. Calculations should be run under both "renter" (above) and 'boarder and lodger' (below) formulas to determine which generates the greater "budgetary requirements" to benefit the recipient. Recipients can then advocate - or even legally restructure - their situations accordingly.

(c) Budgetary Requirements Calculation

The budgetary requirements of a 'boarder and lodger' are calculated as follows:
  • Boarding and Lodging Component [s.3(d) below]
  • Northern supplement [s.3(e) below]
  • Special diet [s.4 below]
  • Pregnancy Supplement [s.5 below]
  • and $63 (special boarder allowance).
Note Re Shared Custody or Shared CCTB Eligibility for a Dependent Minor

Where an applicant/recipient shares either physical custody of a child on an approximately equal basis, or shares eligibility for the Canada Child Tax Benefit on behalf of the child as a shared custody parent, most non-shelter elements of budgetary requirements above (ie. basic needs, northern allowance, special diet and pregnancy supplement) are reduced by 50% of the amount attributable to that child [Reg s.33.2]. Such 'sharing' of dependent minor children is generally discussed at Ch.2, s.5.
(d) "Boarding and Lodging" Component [Reg s.33(1)]

Members of Benefit UnitSingle RecipientRecipient and Spouse
Recipient and/or Spouse760One ODSP: 1151
Both ODSP: 1515 * Note 1
Add for Each 18 yrs Plus DependentFirst 446
Add'l 218
218
Add for Each 13-17 yrs Dependent First 268
Add'l 132
132
Add for Each 0-12 yrs DependentFirst 233
Add'l 97
97
Note 1:
In the last column: "Recipient and Spouse (Both ODSP)" applies to situations where both applicant and spouse are ODSP-eligible BUT ONLY where their eligibility is based on either:

- being found to be a "person with a disability";
- being CPP-disabled eligible;
- grand-parenting of FBA eligibility on basis of being blind, disabled or PUE (permanently unemployable) status.

Practically this covers most situations of dual-ODSP eligibility. While it does NOT apply where ODSP eligibility is based on facility or institutional residence as discussed in Ch.2 "Substitutes for PWD Status", such a recipient would not normally be co-habiting with spouses at such times. Similarly, most other grand-parenting categories are now either spent due the age of the recipient (over 60 or 65 years of age categories), or were 'hived-off' to the Ontario Works (welfare) system (single parents) in June of 1998.
(e) "Boarding and Lodging" Northern Supplement

If the benefit unit resides north of the 50th parallel and does not have year round road access then additional amounts are added as follows:

# of Non-Spousal DependentsRecipientRecipient & Spouse
0158248
1251285
2290324
For each additional dependent: $43

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