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Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Legal Guide
(20 June 2021)

Chapter 5 - Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities

  1. Overview
  2. Procedures
  3. Eligibility
  4. Assistance
    (a) Overview
    (b) Financial
    (c) Other Benefits

1. Overview

The "Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities" (ACSD) is a free-standing benefit which is, as the name suggests, is available to "assist ... with extraordinary costs related to a child who has a severe disability" [Act s.49; Reg 224/98].

Unlike ODSP income support and other benefits ACSD is independent of normal ODSP eligibility, and has its own separate means testing. Persons and benefit units not eligible for ODSP may receive the ACSD.

2. Procedures

Application documents are available at various Ministry of Children and Youth Services offices: MCYS Regional Offices

A typical application package will require:
  1. the completed Application Form;

  2. a completed Expenses Report;

  3. medical verification of the medical conditions and their effect on the child's activities of daily living;

  4. proof of income (income tax returns of applicant and spouse [Reg 224/98 s.4], or - alternatively - proof of receipt of social assistance);

  5. evidence of date of birth and identity of child (usually a birth certificate); and

  6. child's OHIP card.
Who may apply is explained in s.3 "Eligibility" below.

The applicant is personally liable for any overpayments made under the ACSD program by way of deduction from any future ACSD financial assistance [Reg 224/98, s.7]. Note that unlike most overpayment liability this deduction does not extend to welfare assistance or ODSP income support, nor to the spouse of the applicant. (ie. they are not "portable" between these programs)

Director decisions (see Ch.11: "Director Decisions") regarding ACSD assistance are appealable to the Social Benefits Tribunal (see Ch.12: "Appeals and Other Remedies") [Act s.21].

3. Eligibility

The ACSD application can be made by parents or those standing in the position of parents (as below).

In social assistance law "parent" includes natural parents as well as "a guardian and a person who has demonstrated a settled intention to treat the child as a child of his or her family" [Reg 224/98, s.1].

Eligibility criteria include [Reg 224/98, s.2]:
  1. the applicant (adult) being ANY of the following:
    - a "parent" receiving or eligible to receive a payment under s.122.61 of the Income Tax Act [the old federal Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)] (see Ch.7, s.6: "Income Rule: CCTB") on behalf of the child;

    - a "parent" having "primary care and control of the child"; OR

    - a person "receiving temporary care assistance on behalf of the child" under the Ontario Works Act (see the welfare program Ch.2, s.7 "Claimants: Minors in Temporary Care") [Reg 224/98, 2(2)].
  2. the child (anyone not having reached their 18th birthday) has a "severe disability".

  3. the child is co-resident with the applicant.
Note that the key term "severe disability" is not defined in the legislation and is left to "the opinion of the [ODSP] Director", though some indication of factors that go into this assessment are set out in s.4(b)(iii) below. I have been unable to locate any case law on this issue.

4. Assistance

(a) Overview

Unlike other areas of ODSP income support, the Director has an unusually large amount of discretion in the determination of eligibility for - and the amount of - ACSD assistance.

Given the absence of case law on the issue, the only present "authority" to look to on these issues are the Director's own pronouncements, which lack any useful detail.

This is not to accept the Director's decisions as the final word. Decisions of the Director "affecting eligibility for or the amount of ... assistance under s.49" [ACSD] ARE appealable to the Social Benefits Tribunal (see Ch.12: "Appeals and Other Remedies").

(b) Financial

The amount of the financial ACSD is at the discretion of the Director of ODSP and can range between $25 and $500 per qualifying child per month [Reg 224/98, s.2].

In exercising their discretion as to whether to grant the ACSD and the amount, the Director shall consider all relevant circumstances of the applicant and their spouse [Reg 224/98 s.3], including the following:
i. "Household income";

"Household income" includes the income of the applicant, their co-resident spouse (if any) and the child with the disability. "Income" is based on the "total income" as that term is used in income tax law. Roughly this is gross employment income (before source deductions) and/or net farming or business income (after expenses) in the year of or the year before the application (whichever is greater) [Reg 224/98, s.1,5]. The Director also has discretion to consider actual income if no income tax return was filed, and any unreported income [Reg 224/98, s.5].

Note: "Income" for the above purpose does not include amounts paid from Registered Disability Savings Plans {RDSPs} [see Ch.7. s.8(n) for a fuller discussion] [Reg s.1(2)].

Note: "Household income" will not be considered where the applicant is themself in receipt of ODSP or welfare (Ontario Works), or receives "temporary care assistance" for a child under the Ontario Works Act [Reg 224/98, s.3(2)] (see the welfare program Ch.2, s.7 "Claimants: Minors in Temporary Care"). Essentially such persons will be assessed as having negligible household income.

Note: Since 2000 "spouses" includes same-sex spouses. Any re-assessments of ASCD eligibility due to this change only take effect from the date when the Director conducts the re-assessment, and are not retroactive [Reg 224/98, s.8].

ii. Age of the child;

iii. Extent of Disability

"The extent to which the child is severely limited in activities pertaining to normal living, including, but not necessarily limited to, the ability to walk, communicate with others, feed himself or herself, or bathe himself or herself"; and

iv. Expenses Amount

The expenses faced by the applicant "solely by reason of the severe disability of the child". This includes any expenses solely 'caused' by the disability and should not be limited to care expenses.

Typical such items include (but are not limited to): medical travel, special shoes and clothing, parental relief, and hearing aid batteries.
This external link sets out (at the bottom of the linked page) a brief chart which may [I have not verified it's accuracy] set out the income ranges that the Director applies when deciding ACSD eligibility and amount:

Respite Services: ACSD

(c) Other Benefits

If financial ACSD is paid to an applicant, then the following ODSP benefits (see Ch.4 "Benefits") may also be provided if "necessary for the welfare of the child" and the expense of the benefit is not otherwise reimbursed (ie. if no other assistance for the expense is available) [Reg 224/98, s.6; General Reg s.44(1)(1.1)]:
  1. drug card;

  2. dental services, vision and hearing services and items - including an amount for a periodic oculo-visual assessment for every member of the benefit unit once every 24 months;

  3. the consumer contribution portion for an assistive device under the Assistive Devices program, and the cost of eligibility assessment for such devices;

  4. batteries and repair for mobility devices.


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Last modified: 11-01-23
By: admin