9.11 — Hearing aids
Summary of directive
The items and services that are covered under the Hearing Aid Benefit are outlined in the MCSS Schedule of Services and Fees for Hearing Aids, Devices and Services (“the Schedule”), along with approved amounts.
The Schedule also sets out the process for making a request under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy. A request may be made for an item/service not listed in the Schedule under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy where a medical indication for the requested item/service exists. A request may also be made for an items or service listed in the Schedule where it is specified that approval under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy is required.
The Hearing Aid Benefit also covers the cost of Alerting Systems for ODSP recipients and eligible members of the benefit unit who are deaf and hearing impaired.
Intent of policy
To provide assistance to ODSP recipients and eligible dependants with the purchase of hearing aids and hearing related items and services.
The Hearing Aid Benefit is available to:
- ODSP recipients, their spouses, and dependent children (0-17 years)
- persons eligible for the Extended Health Benefit, their spouses and dependent children (0-17 years)
- children whose families are receiving payments from the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD) program
Application of policy
Recipients must be determined eligible for the Hearing Aid Benefit by the local ODSP office.
Assistive Devices Program (ADP) under Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC)
The MOHLTC is responsible for the delivery of ADP. ADP provides funding to all eligible Ontario residents to help them purchase assistive devices such as hearing devices.
Applicants for ADP must have a documented hearing loss and require the hearing device(s) for use as part of his/her daily living activities at home, school, recreation, sports or work.
Hearing devices approved by ADP for funding are:
- hearing aids/FM systems
- cochlear implant replacement speech processors
- bone anchored hearing aid replacement sound processors
- teletypewriters and accompanying flashing signaling devices
In addition to ADP funding, the ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit will provide assistance, as outlined in the Schedule, with:
- the cost for a hearing aid or a hearing appliance covered by ADP
- the cost of the dispensing fee(included in the service bundle)
- the cost of replacement batteries
- the cost of repairs
The ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit aligns with ADP’s policies for the replacement and return of devices.
For more information on ADP, refer to the ADP Policy and Administration Manual on the MOHLTC web site.
There may be situations where an ODSP recipient, who is a refugee claimant under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act may not be eligible for ADP. Staff should verify that the recipient is not eligible for these benefits through the Interim Federal Health Program prior to issuing the benefit. In these cases, ODSP will pay an amount up to:
- the MCSS maximum allowable amount, as set out in the Schedule
- the ADP allowable amount, as set out in the Schedule.
Coverage of alerting systems
An alerting system picks up sounds from fire alarms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide monitors, baby monitors, telephones, doorbells and building security systems and transmits a signal to a light flasher, bed shaker or other appropriate alerting mechanism. In addition, there are also smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for people who are deaf and hearing impaired that provide a visual strobe alert.
ADP does not cover the costs of alerting systems. ODSP provides coverage for alerting systems and installation of the alerting system for ODSP recipients, their spouses and dependent children (0-17 years) who are deaf and hearing impaired.
Note: Aerting systems are not included in the Schedule. Alerting systems are covered as a mandatory benefit and should be processed accordingly.
MCSS Schedule of Services and Fees for Hearing Aids, Devices and Services
Accessing the Benefit for eligible ADP items and services on the Schedule
ODSP recipients must meet with their ODSP caseworker to determine eligibility for the Hearing Aid Benefit, and must complete the recipient’s section of the ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization Form. The form will indicate what products/services are approved by the ODSP caseworker.
Once the ODSP caseworker determines that a recipient is eligible for the benefit, the recipient must go to a service provider that is registered with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s (MOHLTC) Assistive Devices Program (ADP) to complete the rest of the process.
The service provider will determine eligibility for ADP and complete the ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization Form.
Once device(s) are dispensed according to the Schedule, the recipient must sign the ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization Form verifying that the services were performed and/or the goods were received in good working order. The service provider must then send the completed Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization Form to the local office along with a copy of the recipient’s completed ADP form and any relevant additional documents (e.g., audiograms).
The ministry will review the forms to ensure that the device(s) and/or service(s) provided are among those authorized by the Schedule. The ministry can authorize payment of the invoices once verification is complete. If a discrepancy exists, the claim will be automatically rejected and returned to the service provider for appropriate action.
Please note the service provider must provide the services and counselling necessary for the proper and effective use, operation, care and maintenance of the hearing aid, ear mold and other related devices.
Assessments, devices and services
The Schedule sets outs the approved items, services and amounts. The Schedule is used in parallel with the ADP policies and processes.
The Schedule is available to ODSP staff, participating service providers, municipal Ontario Works Administrators, and Regional Offices.
The following are available for funding through the ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit and will be funded in accordance with the amounts set out in the Schedule.
The Schedule is available to service providers on the Ontario Shared Service Forms repository web portal (search for MCSS Schedule Services of Fees for Hearing Aids, Devices and Services)
The ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit provides funding for the cost of an assessment required to determine eligibility for a hearing aid device under ADP. Funding is provided in accordance with the amounts set out in the Schedule.
Under ADP, in order to determine what device(s) is clinically required for ADP funding purposes, the ADP Authorizer must complete a thorough assessment. The assessment must include an audiogram for both ears.
Hearing aid assessments – adults and children
- One full assessment once every 12 months over the lifetime of the hearing instruments. Specialized assessments (e.g., visual and play audiometry) are covered under the assessment fee.
Teletypewriter/flashing signal device assessments – adults and children
- One assessment over the lifetime of the device.
The following are available through the ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit and will be funded in accordance with the amounts set out in the Schedule.
- mid-level hearing aids (behind the ear, in the ear, canal, completely in the canal)
- advanced level hearing aids may be approved by the caseworker for adults who are actively pursuing employment, employed, or in school (behind the ear, in the ear, canal, completely in the canal)
- advanced level hearing aids (behind the ear, in the ear, canal, completely in the canal) required due to medical indication may be requested under the Exceptional Circumstances policy
Children (0-17 years)
- advanced level hearing aids (behind the ear, in the ear, canal, completely in the canal)
- hearing aid accessories
Adults and children
- implantable hearing aids
- implantable hearing devices – accessories
- tubes and domes
- impressions and molds
- flashing signal device
- teletypewriters (TTY)
- FM system
Service bundles are intended to cover necessary services over the life of the hearing instrument. Service bundles will be funded in accordance with the amounts and time periods outlined in the Schedule.
Service bundles are differentiated by age group:
- children (0 to 17 years)
Service bundles are organized in two types of bundles: (1) Initial Care and (2) Ongoing Care.
The Initial Care bundle is the first bundle to be used for adults and children receiving funding for a new hearing instrument. The duration of the Initial Care bundle is one year.
This Ongoing Care bundle is to be used after the Initial Care bundle has expired. The Ongoing Care bundles will be triggered by patient request for services after the previous bundle has ended. The duration of the Ongoing Care bundle is renewable each year over the remaining life of the hearing instrument.
The bundles are to be funded per instrument.
Service bundles consist of the following services:
- dispensing (initial bundle)
- impression + mold
- The ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit aligns with ADP’s policies for a replacement of hearing devices. Replacements will not be covered during warranty period unless ADP approves a new device due to a significant change in hearing or a significant change in medical condition.
- Replacements will not be covered outside warranty period unless:
- a client is eligible for ADP funding due to a significant change in hearing or a significant change in medical condition
- a client is eligible for ADP funding a new device because the existing device is no longer working or cannot be repaired at a reasonable cost
If a replacement hearing instrument is approved, the Initial Care Bundle applies. For more information on ADP, please refer to the ADP Policy and Administration Manual on the MOHLTC web site.
In the case of children, replacement may be approved by a caseworker. In these cases, funding is in accordance with the amounts set out in the Schedule. Where the child is not eligible for ADP coverage, MCSS will also pay the ADP maximum allowable amount, as set out in the Schedule.
The ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit aligns with ADP’s policies for a return of the device.
- return fees are a charge for the provider’s time (e.g., three to four visits) before the patient decides to return a device
- a device is not considered dispensed when it is returned
- return fees are paid in accordance with the rates outlined in the Schedule
For more information on ADP, please refer to the ADP Policy and Administration Manual on the MOHLTC web site.
- Shipping and related costs are not covered by MCSS.
Administration of the items/services under the Schedule
For items under the Schedule, service providers should mail the completed ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization/Invoice forms to the Local Office for processing.
A request under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy may be made where a medical indication for the requested item/service exists.
Requests under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy fall into two categories:
- items and services not on the Schedule where a medical indication for the requested item/service exists
- items on the Schedule where it is specified that approval under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy is required. The basis for a request under this category is that the item/service is required due to medical indication (e.g. Advanced Hearing Aids for adults not pursuing employment, employed, or in school)
Service providers must obtain pre-authorization from the Ministry before dispensing or providing item(s)/service(s) requiring approval under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy. Service providers should advise recipients about the pre-authorization requirement for item(s)/service(s) outside of the Schedule.
Examples of medical indications that may be considered under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy include:
- the existence of a co-morbidity that is relevant to the hearing impairment
- the presence of tinnitus in addition to a hearing impairment, where the prescriber indicates the need for noise generation options/features that are not available in mid-level hearing aids
- the presence of an anatomical abnormality that would contraindicate the use of an advanced- level hearing aid
Decisions for Exceptional Circumstances requests will be made by the Director and managers of the Social Assistance Centralized Services Branch (SACSB).
If an item/service is approved under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy for an item/service on the Schedule, payment will be in accordance with the Schedule (i.e., advanced hearing aids required due to medical indication).
If an item/service is approved under the Exceptional Circumstances Policy and the approved item/service is not set out in the Schedule, the amount payable will be determined by the Director based on the particular circumstances.
1. Submission of Exceptional Circumstances Requests
All Exceptional Circumstances Requests are handled and reviewed by MCSS.
The Hearing Aid Benefit (Exceptional Circumstances) form is available to service providers on the Ontario Shared Service Forms repository web portal (search for ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit).
The service provider must provide the following information with an Exceptional Circumstances request:
- a copy of the Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization Form
- completed Hearing Aid Benefit (Exceptional Circumstances) including:
- description of item(s)service(s) being requested;
- cost of the item(s)/service(s) being requested
- clinical determination and rationalefor the requested item(s)/service(s)
Service providers must send the request to:
Ministry of Community and Social Services
ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit Program (Exceptional Circumstances)
77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, ON M7A 1N3
Once received, the Ministry will review the information and issue a decision to the recipient and the service provider. Internal reviews and appeal provisions apply.
The Ministry will notify both recipient and the service provider of the decision within 30 business days.
If the information provided is not sufficient to make a decision or if a second estimate is required, a letter will be sent to the service provider requesting additional information.
The service provider will have 10 business days to respond to the request for additional information. If a response is not received within 10 business days, a follow-up call will be made by the Ministry to the service provider.
2. Payment of approved Exceptional Circumstances requests
Once an Exceptional Circumstances request is approved by the Ministry, service providers must provide the following to receive payment:
- a copy of the service provider’s approval letter
- a completed Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization form
The Ministry approval letter and the Hearing Aid Benefit Authorization form should be sent to the address below to receive payment. All sections of the form must be complete to receive payment.
ODSP Hearing Aid Benefit Payment Processing,
77 Wellesley Street West,
Box 333, Toronto, ON M7A 1N3,