How Changes to ODSP Helps Chronic Pain Sufferers
Changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) that were first introduced in the Spring, 2017 budget have started coming into effect. As the government decided to implement the changes in stages, the rollout has been gradual.
These changes cover a variety of administrative areas of the program, and are designed to expand the benefits upon which 502,650 Ontario residents rely on to help provide income support as well as financial assistance for medical treatment.
Unfortunately, many people with chronic pain who participate in the two main social assistance programs – ODSP and Ontario Works – have been stymied by regulations which, for one reason or another, have limited their ability to access the community and social services programs offering management of chronic pain symptoms.
Let’s take a look at the ODSP changes unveiled by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and how they can help chronic pain sufferers.
Changes to ODSP Benefitting Chronic Pain Sufferers
While chronic pain in itself has become increasing recognized by the medical community as a debilitating condition, the fact remains that there can be a variety of underlying causes which may or may not qualify for ODSP benefits.
It’s typically different from acute pain, which usually lasts for a shorter duration. Whether you have a diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome resulting from a nervous system condition like fibromyalgia, or have been injured in an accident, it’ll largely be the official diagnosis which determines your eligibility.
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Learn How You Can Be Covered By ODSP
Access to Assisted Devices
With ODSP, you are able to receive access to assisted devices. For chronic pain relief, that means you have access to a range of support aids that can improve your pain management.
Assisted devices can be a vital and necessary piece to managing your chronic pain.
For instance, a knee brace can provide targeted compression for pain relief and ease any inflammation that is causing additional pain. (Learn more about how assisted devices can assist with chronic pain.)
Assisted devices available that can aid in chronic pain include:
- Compression stockings
- Custom orthotics
- Custom knee braces
- Cervical neck pillows
- Shoulder, elbow, and ankle braces
- Custom wrist braces
- Custom back braces
Simplified Medical Review Process
As of September 1, 2017, MSS has streamlined the medical review process for ODSP applicants. A new, simplified medical form is used, and if the patient’s condition is not expected to improve, they can maintain their eligibility and continue to receive benefits.
Increased Benefit Rates
Starting in September 2017, the base ODSP benefits rates increased by two percent over the previous’ years amounts. This means that a single person receiving ODSP would see their monthly benefits increase $23 per month to a total of $1,151.
Learn more about ODSP:
Raised Asset & Income Exemptions
One of the main barriers to entry into ODSP and OW surrounds income and asset limits before benefits would be clawed back. Prior to September 1 2017, any individual with $5,000 or more in assets or a couple with $7,000 or more would have that amount counted against them. This had the unfortunate effect of penalizing you for having these relatively small amounts, and further added strain and anxiety for ODSP recipients.
However, as of September 1 2017, those limits were greatly increased; now, a single may have up to $40,000 in assets or income, or $50,000 for a couple.
Legal Award and Settlement Exemptions
Another key change to ODSP rules involves court awards or settlements as injury-related compensation for pain and suffering. Previously, all such awards were exempt up to $100,000 before ODSP affecting benefits, and any awards over that amount had to be approved on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, ODSP placed limits on how such payments had to be spent, such as requiring it to cover disability-related expenses such as therapy, medical equipment, and pain medicine.
Under the new changes, the full amount of such awards are now exempt from benefit clawbacks. Also, settlement payment recipients are now free to spend the money however they see fit, with all previous spending restrictions removed.
Check with a community legal expert to learn more since there are some exclusions to these exemptions, as outlined by the Ministry of Community and Social Services:
“Portions of awards to compensate a person for lost income are not exempt and are considered income and/or assets. The following list of payments typically apply to forms of compensation and are treated as income and/or assets:
- Income Replacement Benefits
- Non-Earner Benefits
- Past or Future Loss of Income
- Punitive Damages Awards
- WSIB Awards for Past or Future Economic Loss”
ODSP Treatment Options for Chronic Pain Patients
HealthMax offers a complete set of health services and treatment options to help chronic pain sufferers manage and get relief from their conditions.
From physiotherapy, chiropractic care, and pain management programs to health products including braces, custom orthotics, and cervical neck pillows, our expert staff will help you navigate all ODSP coverage options.
Book an appointment online today to learn about a treatment plan that will help you get relief from chronic pain.