The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) does not require applicants to be permanently disabled in order to qualify for benefits. This aspect of the program is very important because it means that those who are experiencing temporary disabilities can be eligible for benefits. But it also means that ODSP has to have a way of knowing when recipients no longer require those supports. The way that ODSP does this is by conducting “medical reviews.” Recipients who may be medically reviewed are told whether a review will be required at the time that their application is granted.
It is important that medical reviews are done well, so that those who continue to require ODSP supports can access them. Medical reviews should not be an opportunity to re-visit and change the original decision to grant ODSP benefits. Instead, ODSP should be looking to see whether a recipient’s medical conditions have improved so much that they no longer meet the definition of a “person with a disability.” It is important that the Social Benefits Tribunal, which hears appeals of ODSP decisions, consider the same factors when medical review decisions are appealed.
Because ODSP recently increased the number of medical reviews it conducts, ISAC has been closely monitoring the decisions that ODSP’s Disability Adjudication Unit makes on medical reviews, has supported legal clinics across the province in making legal submissions on appeals, and has worked with two community legal clinics to request “reconsiderations” in cases where it appears that the Social Benefits Tribunal applied the wrong legal test. ISAC will continue to monitor these decisions.