Ontario Social Benefits Tribunal overturns denial of ACSD program benefits

25 October 2016

On October 25, 2016, Ontario's Social Benefits Tribunal ("the Tribunal") overturned a 2015 decision by the Director of the Ontario Disability Support Program (the "Director") canceling the Appellant's benefits under the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program ("ACSD").

The Appellant had been receiving ACSD benefits on behalf of her son, who suffers from Dravet syndrome, autism, and global developmental delay, since 2006. It was the decision of the Director that the Appellant was no longer eligible for funding based solely on the family's gross income, which exceeded "the maximum levels set as guidelines for this program".

At issue in the subsequent appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal was whether or not the decision of the Director to cancel the Appellant's ACSD benefits was correct. There was no dispute that the Appellant's child met the definition of a child with a severe disability and that the child otherwise met the criteria for funding. The Tribunal found that the Director's determination was based largely upon the income of the family and did not adequately consider all relevant circumstances, including: the extent to which the child was severely limited, the extraordinary expenses of caring for the child, and the family's financial situation as a whole.

The Tribunal determined that the maximum income level used by the Director to guide its decision is an internal policy/guideline, and that this maximum is not set out in the governing legislation.

The Tribunal reversed the Director's decision and awarded the maximum monthly benefit, retroactive to the date at which their application was denied.

Max Muñoz, an associate in our Advocacy department, represented the Appellant in this matter.

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