Health benefits are a critical part of the Ontario Disability Support Program. Appropriate access to and funding for these benefits is crucial to make sure that ODSP recipients get the health-related items they need, like medications, diabetic supplies, wheelchairs, and dentures.
Poor dental health can have particularly grave repercussions for the quality of life and health of recipients. The Ministry of Community and Social Services is given broad discretion in the legislation to approve dental benefits, under the authority of the Minister.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre and the Clinic Resource Office worked with a recipient who required lower denture implants. She had no teeth and only upper dentures. She had a lot of trouble eating, and her weight had fallen dangerously low. An expert hired by ODSP said she needed these dentures in order to maintain a healthy weight. But ODSP refused to fund the dentures that she needed in order to be healthy, saying it did not have the authority to do so.
We assisted the recipient to file an appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal. We argued that the Ministry should exercise its discretion around approving dental benefits generously in order to promote the health and well-being of recipients.
This case was resolved before the Social Benefits Tribunal hearing took place. In the end, the recipient was approved for dentures, under the Minister’s discretion, and can now eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight.
-Posted May 2016, final update October 13, 2017