Social Benefits - Further Steps

What if You Are Not Satisfied with the Tribunal’s Decision?

If you are not satisfied with the tribunal's decision and wish to have another hearing, there are options available to you.

Reconsideration Hearings

Either party can ask for a reconsideration of the tribunal’s decision by sending in an Application for Reconsideration. The reconsideration must include reasons why you think the tribunal should give you a new hearing.

There has to be a good reason for the tribunal to review a decision they made. Just because you are feeling upset with the decision, or because you think it is not fair, is not enough of a reason for the tribunal to review the decision. A good reason would be if the tribunal missed an important fact, or an important piece of evidence

If you think you may want to apply for a reconsideration hearing, speak with your ARO or a lawyer. 

The Application for Reconsideration must be sent in to the tribunal within 30 days of receiving the decision.

Access more information on reconsideration hearings here.

Court Appeals

If there is a question of law that a party thinks requires another hearing, the person can appeal the tribunal’s decision to divisional court. For information on Divisional Court see the online pamphlet prepared by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Since a court appeal deals with legal issues, it is important to get legal advice before applying to Divisional Court.

Ombudsman Ontario

The Ombudsman does not have the power to overturn decisions or change tribunal decisions, but if you believe an administrative tribunal treated you unfairly you can make a formal complaint with the Ombudsman.  If the Ombudsman agrees, he can make recommendations to the tribunal to address the problem, and he can also make recommendations about government legislation, policies or programs.  For more information on the powers of the Ombudsman over tribunals, go to: Ombudsman Ontario


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Social Benefits - The Hearing

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Location and Transportation Costs
What is the Law?
The Next Steps

What Will the Hearing Be Like?

A tribunal hearing is not the same as a court hearing, but it is more structured than an Early Resolution Process (ERP) session.

The hearing is led by the tribunal member, who introduces everyone in the room and explains how the hearing will take place.

Both parties will have a chance to present their side of the story. The case presenting officer will go first and explain why Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) made the decision it did. The appellant will have a chance to present next. Both sides will be able to ask the other side questions, and the tribunal member may also ask questions.

Who Can Attend a Hearing?

There are 3 main parties at the Tribunal hearing:

  1. The tribunal member. There may be more than one tribunal member. This is the person who will hear your story and the other party’s story. The tribunal member will make a final decision after the hearing.
  2.  The appellant; and
  3. The respondent (the case presenting officer).

There might also be others at the hearing:

  • Witnesses
  • Lawyers, paralegals or support persons that the appellant wishes to bring to the hearing
  • Language interpreters
  • Service animals

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Location and Transportation Costs

The tribunal can hold hearings all across Ontario. A hearing can be held in the appellant’s community or in a community close by. It is your job to let the tribunal know if a location is difficult for you to get to. You should let your ARO know as soon as you receive your Notice of Hearing if you think it will be a problem for you to get to the hearing.

If you need money to pay for travel costs to get to your hearing, it might be available from the tribunal. You should let your appeals resolution officer (ARO) know as soon as possible if you need money to help you travel to and from the hearing.

How Long Will it Take?

The hearings usually take 1 to 1.5 hours, but if witnesses are involved, more time might be needed.

Interpreters and Sign Language

Hearings are conducted only in English or in French. If an appellant does not speak English or French, he or she can bring an interpreter. This could be someone from a community organization, a family member or a friend.

If you are not able to arrange for your own interpreter, contact the Tribunal Contact Centre or your ARO as soon as possible, and the tribunal will arrange for an interpreter.

The tribunal will also arrange for American Sign Language (ASL) or Quebec Sign Language (QSL) interpretation, if needed. If you need this service, you should make the request as early as possible.

When Will You Receive the Tribunal’s Decision?

The decision is not made at the hearing. The tribunal member will look at all of the facts and evidence presented at the hearing, and send out a written decision some time later.

A copy of the decision will be mailed to all the parties.

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What is the Law?

The tribunal follows:

  1. Legislation;
  2. Regulations; and
  3. Practice Directions.


The Ontario Disability Support Program Act

The Ontario Disability Support Program Act (ODSPA) is the law. This says what your ODSP office and the Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) can and cannot do. It also explains how to appeal an ODSP decision that you are not happy with and what type of decisions you can appeal.

The law (ODSPA) explains what steps the ODSP office has to follow when a person has been denied assistance, or when their assistance has been cancelled, reduced, or placed on hold. 


There is also a set of regulations that guide how your ODSP office makes decisions. 

Practice Directions

The Social Benefits Tribunal also has 8 rules called Practice Directions. These rules are created by the tribunal itself and focus on how it operates in a number of different ways.

Practice Direction 1 -  Interim Assistance
Practice Direction 2 - Reconsideration Request
Practice Direction 3 - Rules for Electronic Hearings
Practice Direction 4 - Rescheduling of Hearings and Adjournments
Practice Direction 5 - Early Resolution Program - Practice tips on how the Early Resolution Pilot Program can work for you.
Practice Direction 6 - Procedure Regarding Human Rights Issue or Challenge
Practice Direction 7 - Currently not applicable
Practice Direction 8 - Pre-Hearing Conferences
Customer Service Policy of the SBT

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The Next Steps

How Will the Tribunal Decide?

After both sides have presented their case, the tribunal member will look at the facts and evidence to make a decision.

Facts, Evidence, and the Law

The tribunal member carefully looks at the facts of the case, evidence at the hearing, and the law to help him or her reach a fair decision.

Timeline of the Tribunal Process  

This is a review of all of the important steps involved in the tribunal process:

A steps review of the tribunal appeal process

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Social Benefits - Hearing Preparation

Documents and Evidence 

Once you receive your Notice of Hearing, it is important to prepare for the hearing.

The Social Benefits Tribunal will allow an appellant (the person making the appeal) to present documents at the hearing to help the appellant tell his or her story. These documents are called evidence.

Evidence can include bringing a person who knows your side of the story and can speak to the tribunal about your case. This person is called a witness, and can help by giving oral testimony. 

Appellants must give copies of any documents, or the names of any witnesses, to the Tribunal. A copy of this list must also be given to the local ODSP office.

This must be done at least 20 days before the hearing. The documents to be used in the appeal can be delivered to the tribunal and to the ODSP office either in person, by mail, or by fax. This is important because any documents that are not received by the tribunal and the ODSP office by the 20-day deadline cannot be used at the tribunal hearing.

What About Letters From your Doctor?

Any medical letters must be sent to both the Disability Adjudication Unit and to the tribunal. You should send these letters as soon as possible. You cannot send them later than 30 days before the date of your hearing.

You can ask a social worker, lawyer, or family member to help you prepare any medical documents for your hearing. 

Providing Services to People with Disabilities

The Social Benefits Tribunal describes how it provides service to people with disabilities with a Customer Service Policy linked here.  Providing Services to People with Disabilities

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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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Social Benefits - Overview

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If you have questions

The information presented here is an overview of how the Social Benefits Tribunal works to hear appeals of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). It is not intended to be legal advice. If your issue is complicated or difficult to explain, you may want to see a lawyer to help you with your appeal.

The Social Benefits Tribunal hears disputes about ODSP matters.  The tribunal hearings are usually held in front of one member, in private. 

You may appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal if you do not agree with a decision made by the ODSP office or if you have not received a decision from the ODSP office within 10 days of your application.  The tribunal hears from both sides as though there had not been a previous decision from a local ODSP director. Some decisions cannot be appealed to the tribunal. You will need to check the letter you receive about your decision, which will say whether the Social Benefits Tribunal can hear your case.

After receiving your decision letter, you have 30 days to appeal. If you decide to appeal, you will need to complete an Appeal Form and mail or fax it to:

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

Fax: 416-326-5135

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You can get an Appeal Form from either A local ODSP Offices in Ontario or download it from the Social Benefit Tribunal Web Site.

You can call the Social Benefits Tribunal if you need help completing the form or if you have questions:

416-326-0978 (within Toronto)
Toll-free: 1-800-753-3895 (outside of Toronto)
TTY: 416-325-3408 (within Toronto)
TTY (toll-free): 1-800-268-7095 (outside of Toronto)

The Tribunal will hear only the types of issues listed below. These issues are also listed on the appeal form:

  • You were refused assistance.
  • Your assistance has been reduced.
  • You have an overpayment.
  • The amount of your assistance is wrong.
  • Your assistance has been cancelled.
  • Your assistance is on hold.
  • They say you are not disabled.

If an ODSP client does not agree with a decision made by his or her ODSP office, the client can appeal to the tribunal for a chance to have the decision changed. The Social Benefits Tribunal has no connection to the person who made the decision that is being appealed, and will make an independent decison based on the facts and the law. 

You do not need a lawyer to bring your appeal to the Tribunal. But if you think your issue is complicated or difficult to explain, you might want to contact a lawyer before you apply to the Tribunal.

To obtain free legal advice, you can contact:

Legal Aid Ontario
Toronto Line: 416-979-1446
Toll-free: 1-800-668-8258

Law Society of Upper Canada Lawyer Referral Service
Toronto Line: 416-947-3330
Toll-free: 1-800-268-8326

What This Process Can Do For You

Your appeal can have 4 different results:

  1. You can win your appeal: The ODSP decision is reversed, and you win your appeal.
  2. You can win part of your appeal: The Tribunal may decide to reverse only part of the decision. This means you will win part of the appeal, and lose the rest.
  3. You can lose your appeal: The decision of the ODSP Director remains the same.
  4. You can fail to qualify for a Tribunal hearing: If the issue is not one of the 7 that the tribunal can hear, they will let you know in writing. This means you will not have a tribunal hearing. In this situation, the decision of the drector will stay the same.

Appealing to the Tribunal means that you will have a chance to tell your side of the story and a chance to be heard. It also means that you will get a fair hearing based on the facts and evidence of your case. 

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