Changes to ODSP forms
Recently, the Ontario government changed all the forms in the Disability Determination Package for Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) applicants. But while the forms have changed, the legal test that decides whether a person is eligible for ODSP has not changed.
In their issue of On the Radar, CLEO looks at those changes and has tips to help community workers support their clients’ ODSP applications.
Disability Determination Package
To qualify as a person with a disability, most applicants must fill out the Disability Determination Package (DDP) that ODSP sends to them.
The DDP has 4 forms:
- Health Status Report
Completed by a health professional to describe the applicant’s disability.
- Activities of Daily Living Index
Completed by a health professional to describe how the disability affects the applicant’s daily activities.
- Self Report
Completed by the applicant to describe their disability and how it affects them.
- Consent to the Release of Medical and Related Information
Completed by the applicant to give their health professional permission to share information with ODSP.
Changes to the forms
The new DDP forms filled out by health professionals have revised rating scales.
The descriptions and numbers in the new scales are:
- Don’t know (DK)
- None (0)
- Moderate (2)
- Severe (3)
On the old forms, it was rare for ODSP to find an applicant eligible unless they had ratings of “moderate” or “severe”. It was legally possible to be eligible for ODSP with only “mild” ratings, but it was less likely. This suggests that applicants will probably be more successful if their health professional selects moderate (2) or severe (3) ratings on the new forms.
The new forms also have space for health professionals to attach additional health reports and other supporting information, and to write comments. These new forms take time, effort, and thought to fill out. They also allow health professionals to explain an applicant’s disability and how it affects them more fully.
The new Health Status Report form now asks for information about mental health including:
- neurodevelopmental disorders, for example, autism or cerebral palsy
- cognitive impairments, such as difficulty understanding or remembering information, or making decisions
There’s also a revised section for health professionals to add information about the treatment the applicant received.
For applicants, the new Self Report form has more space for them to explain how their disability affects their life.
How community workers can help ODSP applicants
Besides learning more about the ODSP application process and getting familiar with the new DDP forms, community workers can help an ODSP applicant in other ways. They can:
- Fill out the Self Report form with or for the applicant. Anyone can help the applicant fill out their Self Report form. But if a person fills it out on the applicant’s behalf, they should explain why in Section 7 of the form. For example, “The applicant’s disability makes it difficult for them to write.”
- Help the applicant make appointments with approved health professionals. It’s a good idea to ask for a longer appointment time so that the health professional can fully discuss the forms with the applicant.
- Go with the applicant to their appointments with the health professional. A community worker can discuss the forms with the health professional and make sure all the forms:
- are consistent. For example, if one form focuses only on a physical disability, but another form focuses only on a mental health disorder, ODSP may find this confusing, and may reject the application.
- show a strong link between the applicant’s disabilities and the difficulties they have in life. The applicant will only be eligible for ODSP if they have a substantial disability that restricts their life in a substantial way. A community worker can work with the health professional to make sure the forms accurately describe the applicant’s disability and how it affects them in clear and strong language.
ODSP applications are sometimes denied because the health professional did not fully explain the disability or used vague language to describe how it affects the applicant. They can also be denied if a doctor’s handwriting is illegible.
- Help applicants to ask for more time to submit their DDP forms or for other accommodations. To do this, a community worker can call the Disability Adjudication Unit at 1-888-256-6758. Applicants usually have 90 days to submit their forms.
The CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario) – is Ontario’s online home for training, tools, and connections to help you help your clients. Since 1974, CLEO has developed clear, accurate, and practical legal rights education and information to help people understand and exercise their legal rights.