Social Benefits - Application Steps

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A Review of the Application Process
Interim Assistance
ERP Sessions are Voluntary
Special Needs Before the Hearing

Before You Can File an Appeal

Before you can file an appeal with the Social Benefits Tribunal for a decision by the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), you must either:

  1. Have submitted an Internal Review form to your ODSP office and received a decision you did not agree with OR
  2. Submitted an Internal Review from, but did not receive a decision within 10 days.

Once either of the above happens, you have 30 days to file an appeal to the tribunal. 

The Appeal Application

To apply to the Tribunal, use the Tribunal’s Appeal Form. It is available at the Tribunal’s office at:

Social Benefits Tribunal
1075 Bay Street, 7th Floor
Toronto ON M5S 2B1

Toronto Line: 416-326-0978

Appeal Forms can also be found online at the tribunal’s website.

You must fill out all parts of the Appeal Form and attach the following documents to the Appeal Form before you send it in to the secretary of the tribunal:

  • Your original Notice of Decision;
  • Your original forms from the internal review; and
  • The internal review decision (if one was received).

Within the 30 day limit, you must send all of your appeal documents to:

Social Benefits Tribunal
1075 Bay Street, 7th Floor
Toronto ON,  M5S 2B1                   

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A Review of the Application Process

3 major steps to register an appeal flowchart

How Will the Application be Processed?

Once you fill out the Appeal Form and attach all of the documents you need, you must mail them to the tribunal.

If the tribunal decides that your issue is not one of the 7 that they can hear, they will send you a letter telling you this, and you will not get a hearing.

If the tribunal decides that you do have an issue that can be appealed, you will receive the following information in the mail:

  • A letter of acknowledgment with the following information:
    • Your Appeal File Number that will appear on all of the paperwork from the tribunal. You must have your number ready if you call the tribunal about your case.
    • The name of your appeals resolution officer (ARO). This is the person who will look after your case. If you have any questions about the appeal process, you should call or write to your ARO.
  • A pamphlet called Where to Get Help with Your Appeal.
  • A letter describing interim assistance (if you applied for it on Section 4 of the Appeal Form). This letter will tell you if you have qualified for interim assistance. If you have, the letter will explain the next steps. 
  • A Notice of Hearing telling you the location and time of your hearing.

It is important that you do not miss the hearing unless you have a very good reason. If you miss your hearing, and do not provide a good reason for missing it, the tribunal might not let you appeal your issue. They can also stop you from appealing the same issue for a 2-year period. 

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Interim Assistance

Interim assistance is a type of financial assistance that someone appealing to the tribunal might be able to receive while waiting for a hearing. To qualify, you must show that you are going through financial hardship related to the decision you are appealing.

Example: Nancy’s ODSP money was reduced by $100 a month. Because she now receives $100 less each month, she has been having trouble paying for her rent and food. This is an example of financial hardship that is related to Nancy’s ODSP decision.

You have to send the tribunal evidence of your financial hardship.

Examples of financial hardship might be:

  • proof of rental arrears
  • unpaid bills
  • an eviction notice

In order to apply for interim assistance, you must fill out Section 4 of the appeal form when you apply to the tribunal.

The tribunal does not give financial assistance. The assistance is given through your local ODSP office.

Although interim assistance will not change how the tribunal decides your case, if you do not win your appeal, you may have to pay back any interim assistance you received. If this happens, you will have to pay it back in the form of an overpayment balance on your ODSP file.

For more information about interim assistance, see the Tribunal's Practice Direction 1.

The Early Resolution Process  

The early resolution process (ERP) is a program that offers both sides a chance to work out the problem without going to a tribunal hearing. ERP is faster than a tribunal hearing and takes place in a more relaxed environment. 

Tribunal hearings are carried out in a court-like setting. There is an adjudicator who hears all of the facts and evidence and makes a decision.

The ERP session uses a method of problem-solving called mediation. Mediation helps both sides work out their problem by discussing it with the help of a mediator.

If your ARO thinks that your issue is one that could be resolved through an ERP session, a letter called Notice of Early Resolution Session will be sent to you and the other party. 

This letter will include:

  • the date, time, and reason for your ERP session
  • information on how an appellant (the person making the appeal) can bring a lawyer or agent to the session 
  • the information that the ERP session is private. This means nobody else will have to know about it 
  • information about how the ARO will help both sides try to work out their issue using mediation

If both of the parties agree to participate in the ERP session, the session will be scheduled.

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ERP Sessions Are Voluntary

For an ERP session to take place, both you and the case presenting officer (CPO) must agree to it. If either side wants to go straight to a tribunal hearing, that party must let the ARO know within 10 days of receiving the Notice of Early Resolution Session.

ERP sessions can occur either by telephone or in person. They usually take between 20 and 40 minutes, and are scheduled sooner than a tribunal hearing.

Who Takes Part in an ERP Session?

  • The appellant, and his or her lawyer or non-legal representative, if there is one
  • The case presenting officer 
  • The ARO. The ARO will lead the mediation between both sides at the session.   

What Happens During an ERP Session?

After introductions, each side will tell his or her story. The ARO might ask questions. The appellant and CPO can also ask each other questions.

After hearing from both parties, the ARO will work with them to see if an agreement can be reached.

The ARO will not force agreement; the purpose of the ERP is to see if both sides can reach an agreement without feeling pressured.   

What Happens After the ERP Session?

If the ERP session is successful, the ARO will write a report on the session. Both sides will receive a copy of this report and the appeal will be over.

If only part of the issue is resolved, the ARO will send the part of the appeal that is unresolved to a tribunal hearing. The ARO will continue to manage the case until it has been completely resolved.

If the ERP session is not successful at all, the case will go to a tribunal hearing.

For more information on the Early Resolution Program see the Social Benefits Tribunal Practice Direction on the Early Resolution Program..

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Special Needs Before the Hearing

If you have any special accommodation needs, these must be arranged before the hearing day. Appellants should call the Social Benefits Tribunal or their ARO to ask for special arrangements. Special arrangements might include equipment, services or assistance to be set up for the hearing date.

The tribunal will cover the cost of some special arrangements, but will not pay for transportation, support workers, or child care.

Withdrawing an Appeal

After filing an Appeal Form, if you change your mind and want to cancel your application, you must let the Tribunal Contact Centre or your ARO know right away.

You must also notify your ODSP office to let them know that you are cancelling the appeal.

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