Consider Applying to Social Services While Waiting for Your Insurance Settlement

Consider Applying to Social Services While Waiting for Your Insurance Settlement


“But the insurance company should be paying my Benefits.”

Yes, they should be paying your Long-Term Disability Benefits. But in the meantime you still have to eat. When the savings have been used, borrowing tapped out and credit at its limit, social services is an option to consider.

In Ontario, social services (welfare) is an “income of last resort”. You can have a certain level of assets but nothing more. There has to be no income to the family unit, or at least a low enough income to meet the criteria (based on number of family members and age).* They demand a lot of documentary evidence and personal information. The first application is to Ontario Works (OW).  However, the object of this program is to get a person back into the workforce.  Obviously, this is not possible when you are medically disabled. So you also apply to Ontario Disability Support Plan (ODSP).

ODSP is also a social service but for those medically unable to work. The monthly benefit is higher than that of OW and there is no requirement that a recipient be looking for work or retrain. You do have to submit medical forms and documents in addition to financial information.

Besides a monthly monetary payment, ODSP provides a drug benefit card and additional payments throughout the year if you qualify.* For example, clothing allowances for growing kids or for special diets. There may also be transportation funds to school or medical appointments.

You do have to repay both OW and ODSP if you receive a long-term disability settlement that covers the same payment period. Usually the matter runs as follows: OW approves your application (financial criteria) while you are waiting for the ODSP review of your medical information. ODSP eventually approves your application, backdating the start of payments.  This means that ODSP pays back OW and provides the difference in the monthly amount to you.

When Share Lawyers negotiates a settlement against the insurance company for Long-Term Disability benefits, there is an obligation to repay ODSP for any overlapping time. Most of the time our office has been served with a notice requiring that payment be made directly from us as a deduction form your net receipts. In any event, you are under a positive obligation to notify ODSP of your settlement and provide repayment if applicable.

*Details of criteria, limits, ceilings and benefit programs change according to politics, social attitudes and the economy.

By Shira Bernholtz B.A., LL.B.

Client Services Lawyer, Share Lawyers

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