ODSP Benefits Change for Workers
Ontarians with disabilities may be heading back to work soon, but not because they feel ready and able. The three types of employee benefits available through ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) are being replaced in efforts to “streamline social assistance employment benefits.”
The province hopes increasing the program’s efficiency will help clarify what benefit options are available to workers with disabilities. In addition, the streamline process will bring a more personalized and flexible approach to reaping ODSP work benefits.
While several logical advantages are laid out in Ontario’s 2014 Budget, ODSP Action Coalition, Income Security Advocacy Centre and Your Legal Rights are attempting to explain the new plan simply so citizens can fully understand how the changes to ODSP will affect them and their financial future.
To better understand the pros and cons of upcoming changes to employee benefits through ODSP, get to know some of the facts.
Current ODSP Benefits
There are three different benefits available to working Ontarians who receive disability support. They include:
- ESUB (Employment Training and Start-up Benefit)
ODSP recognizes the costs associated with getting into the work world. Buying clothes, getting proper certifications, securing tools and grooming, among other things, cost money. Therefore, the old adage is true: it takes money to make money. ODSP offers a one-time payment of $500 to a person with disability, spouse or dependent adult child, who is preparing to onboard with an established employer.
- ETB (Employment Transition Benefit)
A person who receives ODSP may no longer qualify for assistance once he or she begins drawing an income from work. However, just because paychecks are coming in does not mean the employee feels financially secure. Therefore, ODSP offers a one-time lump-sum payment of $500 to those who are working, training, or pursuing self-employment.
- WRB (Work-related Benefit)
The cost of living is high. Even when working and receiving adequate income, a person can feel like it is hard to make ends meet. This is why ODSP offers $100 per month to an individual with disability (or his/her spouse and/or dependent) who is working, training or self-employed.
Beginning April 1, 2015 (followed by a transition period through September 30, 2015 for people with disabilities who receive WRB) these three benefits will be replaced with one offer: Employment-related Benefit.
ODSP Employment-related Benefit
The new Employment-related Benefit (ERB) offers support to Ontarians getting into the workforce, as opposed to those already working. It can deliver up to $1,800 over the course of 12 months to a person with disability or $1,200 (in the same timeframe) to an able-bodied spouse or dependent. To determine the amount of money, each ERB candidate must meet with an employment counsellor. This counsellor will help determine the amount of expenses that are necessary to complete an “employment plan.” Ultimately, this plan is created to launch a person into his or her career. Accounting for the costs it takes to secure gainful employment and reach higher levels of pay, the employment counsellor will determine how much money (up to $1,200 or $1,800) a person is eligible to receive.
Several questions are emerging about the next step in ODSP benefits for workers. Unfortunately, since the commission is working through the logistics of the ERB strategy, not all questions have answers yet. However, there are advocacy groups that are opening forums where working ODSP recipients can voice their concerns and receive support.
If you have questions about the future of ODSP benefits, get more information. To start, watch this ODSP Employment Benefits webinar: http://vimeo.com/114260748.
Also, read the unofficial transcript from the question and answer session: http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/sites/all/files/webinar_files/ODSP%20Employment%20Benefits%20Webinar%20-%20Q%20and%20A%20unofficial%20transcript%20-%20final.pdf.
Beyond ODSP – Other Benefits for Workers
Too many Canadian workers believe they are not eligible for disability benefits. In reality, people who live with disabilities and draw taxable incomes are eligible to apply for disability tax credits.
For people who juggle work and disability, disability tax credits offer relief from annual tax burdens. More so, the credit can be claimed retroactively up to 10 years, meaning people with disabilities have the potential to claim up to $40,000 in tax refunds.
To navigate the application and filing processes, many Canadians choose to work with professional benefit specialists. National Benefit Authority helps thousands of Canadians with disabilities (some who are able to work and some who are not) by helping file successful disability tax credit certificates.
If you have questions about qualifying for the disability tax credit, call the National Benefit Authority at 1888-389-0080. Benefit specialists are available to speak with you and guide you in this process.