My Experience with Ontario Disability (ODSP)

Right before Covid hit I had made the hard decision to apply for Ontario Disability (ODSP) and quit my job. I had been considering it for months as my symptoms were worsening and I started working fewer shifts or having to leave work early. I had gotten accepted but, I had no idea the stresses that came along with it. It had both helped me and caused some of the most stress in my life. Here is my experience with it.

It was an option when I needed it most

First and foremost, getting accepted for ODSP can be a pain. Not everyone gets accepted and truthfully, I think the ways in which they choose who gets accepted and who doesn’t is flawed. I know many people with a disability in Ontario who applied and got rejected who are probably in equal, if not worse condition than I am.

I wish it wasn’t this way. But for my experience alone, I got the acceptance and I was incredibly grateful for that. Work was becoming too much to handle and my work ethic wasn’t the same. I felt like I was failing at my job, and I wasn’t able to support myself financially anymore.

My caseworker is my worst nightmare

Upon meeting I thought she seemed nice, but as time went on, she turned into an anxiety-inducing essence in my life. Whenever she called I knew it meant trouble.

Whether it was postponing my payment due to a problem that she caused, or gaslighting me and telling me that it’s because I didn’t send her the proper documents when I had, overall she just never seemed to be on my side. There were too many times to count where I had made less money or didn’t receive a payment in time because of a mistake she had made.

The decisions for spousal-related income deductions is flawed

When I first quit my job, I moved in with my boyfriend and his parents to save money and so he could help support me and my health. About a year into being on disability, suddenly my caseworker thought I should fill out paperwork to see if my boyfriend and I would be considered spouses.

We share absolutely no bills together, insurance, credit cards, nothing-—not to mention we live with his parents. Despite all of this, after the paperwork, she said she would still declare us spouses. This meant that she would deduct my monthly income based on his monthly income. This in itself is a whole other topic to unpack.

I’m right back where I started

I started having breakdowns because they have left me with so much financial trauma. Everything basically came full circle. I’m making far less than I would be if I was working but am stuck in a position where I’m not well enough to have a full-time job. I receive enough to pay my $200 board and lodge and that’s all. Not enough for feminine products or other essentials that I may need for the month.

To put things into perspective: In Ontario, you’re allowed to receive $10,000 in gift money without any deductions, but you (or your spouse) are only allowed to make $200 before deductions are made. The government assumes we just have people around to who are willing to give you handouts when, that really is not the case. I know this isn’t an issue just in Ontario, it happens everywhere, but this is my experience and the government should be doing better for those with disabilities.

We deserve better.

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