ODSP denial of ACSD program benefits successfully overturned on appeal to Ontario's Social Benefits Tribunal

08 October 2015

On October 8, 2015, Ontario’s Social Benefits Tribunal (“the tribunal”) rescinded a 2014 decision by the Director of the Ontario Disability Support Program (“ODSP”) which denied an application for benefits under the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities program (“ACSD”).

The application for ACSD benefits was made to ODSP in 2014 by the parents of a child with a rare and debilitating genetic disorder, to assist with extraordinary expenses incurred as a result of the child’s disability. It was the decision of the Director of the ODSP that the parents were ineligible for funding based solely on their gross family income, which exceeded “the maximum levels set as guidelines for this program”. The applicant requested a review of the decision and received correspondence which affirmed the original decision.

At issue in the subsequent appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal was whether or not the decision of the Director to deny benefits was correct. All parties were in agreement that all other criteria for funding eligibility had been clearly met by the family, excluding only the issue of gross family income. The tribunal found that the ODSP did not consider all criteria in making its initial decision, even though it claimed to have done so, which was deemed an error. The tribunal determined that the maximum income level is an internal policy/guideline, and that this maximum is not set out in the governing legislation, nor can the decision to deny or grant funding be limited to income alone.

The tribunal’s order reversed the original ODSP decision and awarded the parents the maximum monthly benefit of $470, retroactive to the date at which their application was originally denied.

Max Muñoz, an associate in Gowlings’ Advocacy department, represented the appellants in this matter.


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