Disability Benefits and Sickness Benefits in Canada
What follows is a brief overview of government benefits available to residents of Ontario who are disabled and/or are suffering from illness.
Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits
If you’ve made sufficient contributions to the Canada Pension Plan through work or self-employment you will be eligible for CPP disability benefits if you are under the age of 65 and have a severe and prolonged disability
“Severe” means that you have a mental or physical disability that prevents you from doing any type of substantially gainful work. “Prolonged” means that your disability is long-term and of indefinite duration or is likely to result in death.
The CPP program’s medical adjudicators will assess whether your disability is both severe and prolonged. They are trained nurses with extensive knowledge of CPP legislation, regulations, policies and procedures.
It takes approximately 170 days for a decision to be made from the date Service Canada receives your application and all the necessary documents.
If you are eligible under the terms of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) legislation, your disability benefits will start the fourth month after the month you are determined to be disabled. You may receive up to a maximum of 12 months of retroactive payments from the date your application was received.
Child Disability Benefits
The child disability benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.
For the period of July 2019 to June 2020, you could get up to $2,832 ($236.00 per month) for each child who is eligible for the disability tax credit.
To get the child disability benefit, you must be eligible for the Canada child benefit and your child must be eligible for the disability tax credit.
A child is eligible for the disability tax credit when a medical practitioner certifies, on Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate, that the child has a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) approves the form.
Disability Benefits in Ontario
Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is one of Ontario’s social assistance programs. ODSP provides income and employment supports to eligible Ontario residents who have disabilities. It consists of 2 main parts:
This consists of financial assistance provided each month to help with the costs of basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter. A case worker will need to determine both your financial eligibility and the extent of your disability.
You are considered to be in financial need if the costs of your household’s basic living expenses are more than your household’s income and assets (as determined by your ODSP caseworker).
When you apply for income support, a caseworker will ask you for specific documents that show:
- your personal information
- information about members of your household
- your household’s housing costs and other shelter-related costs
- your household’s income and assets
Under the ODSP Act, you are considered disabled if:
- you have a substantial mental or physical impairment that is continuous or recurrent, and is expected to last one year or more; and
- your impairment directly results in a substantial restriction in your ability to work, care for yourself, or take part in community life; and
- your impairment, its duration and restrictions have been verified by an approved health care professional.
You will be given a Disability Determination Package which will be used to collect information about your disability from an ODSP approved health care professional.Once you’ve completed the Disability Determination Package, you’ll need to submit it to the ODSP Disability Adjudication Unit which shall determine your eligibility.
If you have a disability, ODSP employment supports can help you find and keep a job, or advance your career. Community-based service providers across Ontario deliver ODSP employment supports.
To qualify for employment supports, you must:
- be at least 16 years old
- be an Ontario resident
- be legally allowed to work in Canada
- have a substantial physical or mental disability that is expected to last a year or more, and makes it hard for you to find or keep a job.
You don’t have to be receiving income support from ODSP to be eligible for employment supports.
You can print out the application package using the links below, or call/visit your local ODSP office to request a package and get more information about specific services where you live.
The application package contains these forms:
If you are already receiving ODSP income support, you do not need to complete the Verification of Disability/Impairment form.
If you are not receiving ODSP income support, the Verification of Disability/Impairment form must be completed by an approved, health care professional who can describe your disability/impairment and explain how it impacts your ability to find and keep work.
Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits
The Employment Insurance (EI) program offers temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers. This assistance includes providing sickness benefits to people unable to work because of sickness, injury, or quarantine.
If you cannot work because of sickness, injury or quarantine, but you would otherwise be available to work, you could be eligible to receive up to a maximum of 15 weeks of EI sickness benefits.
You may be entitled to receive EI sickness benefits if:
- you are employed in insurable employment;
- you meet the specific criteria for receiving EI sickness benefits;
- your normal weekly earnings have been reduced by more than 40%; and
- you have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period.
EI sickness benefits are payable only to those people who are unable to work because of sickness, injury or quarantine but who would otherwise be available for work if not for their incapacity due to medical reasons. To receive sickness benefits, you need to obtain a medical certificate signed by your doctor or approved medical practitioner.
For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2019, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $53,100. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $562 per week. EI sickness benefits can be paid for a maximum period of 15 weeks, depending on how long you are unable to work.
Dealing With Debts When Disabled or Sick
It’s not uncommon for people who are disabled or sick to be unable to meet their debt payments as they become due. Income support programs such as those described above are often insufficient to pay for necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter and debt payments.