Overview

If you are on ODSP and you want to work or start your own business, you and your family may continue to receive income support and benefits that make it easier to make the transition.

For help preparing for work and finding a job, there is also help available for people with disabilities through ODSP employment supports.

In locations where ODSP does not provide employment supports, Employment Ontario can help you get the training, skills, and experience you need to find and keep a job.

The Ontario Government also offers many other supports to individuals and families. Find out about other support programs you may be eligible for.

Work-Related Benefit

The Work-Related Benefit can provide up to $100 for each family member when you and your family:

  • earn money from a job or through a training program
  • make a profit from your own business

Eligible family members include:

  • you
  • your spouse
  • your children 18 years of age or older

You are not eligible for the Work-Related Benefit if the money you earn is exempt (meaning it does not affect your income support).

Getting the benefit

You need to tell your case worker about the money you and your family earn and provide proof of your income, including:

  • pay stubs if you are employed
  • documentation of business income and expenses if you have a business or are self employed

You don't need to provide proof of your employment costs. We will automatically add the Work-Related Benefit to your monthly income support payment if you are eligible.

Coverage for up-front child care costs

You and each eligible family member may get up-front coverage for:

  • the full cost of child care if you get child care from a licensed provider (for example, a licensed daycare) or from the before- and after-school programs offered as part of full-day kindergarten
  • up to $600 per child in a 12-month period if you get child care from an unlicensed provider (for example, a nanny)

You may be eligible for coverage if you need to change your child care arrangements to start, keep or change:

  • a full time or part time job
  • a training program
  • your own business
  • an approved employment activity, such as a job search

Eligible family members include:

  • you
  • your spouse
  • your children 18 years of age or older who are not attending secondary school full time
  • your children under 18 years of age who have completed secondary school

You cannot get up-front coverage if the caregiver is a family member who is on income support with you.

Getting this benefit

You need to contact your local ODSP case worker to see if you are eligible. You may need to give your worker:

  • proof of your employment or employment activity, such as a letter of employment from your employer or the registration form for a training course
  • proof that you need to pay for child care in advance

After we have reviewed this information, we will send you a letter to tell you if you have been approved.

Employment and Training Start Up Benefit

You and each eligible family member may get up to $500 in a 12-month period to help pay for items you need to start:

  • a new full-time or part-time job
  • a training program
  • your own business
  • an approved employment activity, such as a job search

Eligible family members include:

  • you
  • your spouse
  • your children 18 years of age or older who are not attending secondary school full time, and
  • your children under 18 years of age who have completed secondary school

. Here are some examples of covered costs:

  • clothing or uniforms
  • safety shoes or work boots
  • tools and special equipment
  • grooming costs
  • transportation
  • licensing fees, professional fees, association costs

Getting the benefit

You need to contact your case worker to make sure you are eligible. You may need to give your worker:

  • proof of your employment or employment activity, such as a letter of employment from your employer or the registration form for a training course
  • information about the items you need to start your job or training program

After we have reviewed this information, we will send you a letter to tell you if you have been approved.

Reporting your employment earnings each month

It is important for you to tell us about any earnings you, or your family receive each month. The amount of money you are paid in your job or training program in one month will be used to calculate the amount of money you receive from ODSP in the following month.

You can report your earnings in several ways. You can:

When you and your family work and earn money

Tell your caseworker about any money you and your family receive, including money:

  • you or your spouse earn from work (a job or a training program)
  • your children 18 years of age or older earn from a job or training program

The money you and your family earn from work may reduce your income support.

You must report all income, even if it is exempt.

What to report

Please report your gross pay and net pay.

Gross pay is the amount you get paid before all deductions like income tax, Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

Net pay is the amount you get paid after all deductions like income tax, EI and CPP.

If you receive tips or gratuities, you must include it in the net pay amount. If there are no deductions on your paystub/cheque, your net pay will be the same amount as your gross pay.

You must also report any deductions for:

  • payments for child or spousal support owed
  • other garnishments to repay a debt

The Employment/Training Income Report form has an example of a completed earnings report on the reverse side.

Exceptions

We do not consider the earnings of your children if they are under 18 years of age. Their earnings are completely exempt.

If you or members of your family are enrolled full time in high school or an approved postsecondary institution your or your family member’s earnings are completely exempt, but you still need to report your earnings each month.

How to report earnings

Use MyBenefits, the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, or the Employment/Training Income Report to report earnings from employment or training that you or your family members receive between the first day of the month and the last day of the month. You must return it by the seventh day of the following month. For example, report any income earnings that you received in September by October 7.

Unless your caseworker has told you otherwise, you may:

Example

You receive $250 between September 1 and September 30.

You report these earnings by October 7 using MyBenefits, calling the IVR, or sending back a completed Employment/Training Income Report to your local ODSP office.

We will use the information you report to calculate how much money you will receive at the end of October.

When you don’t earn anything in the month

If you or  your family have no earnings to report this month from your employment or paid training program, put $0 under the gross pay and net pay sections when you fill out the Employment/Training Income Report form. You must still send the form to your local ODSP office by the seventh day of the following month.

Missed reports

Your payments and benefits may stop temporarily if you miss a reporting deadline.

If you are required to report your earnings monthly, and we don’t receive your report by the seventh day of the month, we may not be able to calculate how much money you should receive at the end of the month and your payments and benefits may be put on hold.

Once you send your completed report to your local ODSP office, we can start sending your payments and benefits again if you still qualify for them.

When no longer working

If you or an adult family member stop working or attending a training program, you need to:

  • tell your caseworker right away
  • fill out the Employment/Training Income Report form that month, and include:
    • when your job or training program ended
    • the name of your employer or training program
  • send the Employment/Training Income Report form to your caseworker

You may be asked to provide verification that your job or training program has ended. For example, you may need to send in a copy of your Record of Employment or a letter from your employer.

If you have stopped working, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance. To find out more about Canada's Employment Insurance program, visit the federal government’s website at Canada.ca/EI.

How earnings affect your income support

If you are not attending high school or postsecondary school full-time, we look at your net monthly earnings. This is the money you earn from work minus your mandatory deductions, such as income tax, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance contributions and union fees.

  • You can earn up to $200 a month and your income support will not be affected. We apply this $200 earnings exemption to your net income.
  • We calculate half of your net monthly earnings above $200 (50% is exempt).
  • We deduct part or all of your monthly child care and disability-related work costs that you report to us.
  • We give you an extra $100 Work-Related Benefit.

In the same way, we will consider any money earned by your spouse or children 18 years of age or older who are not attending high school or postsecondary school full time.

Deductions for disability-related work costs

Every month that you report earnings, you can claim up to $1,000 for disability-related items or services you need to help you work.
Here are some examples:

  • specialized equipment
  • specialized transportation services
  • sign language interpreting services
  • attendant care services

You need to get approval for the disability-related items and services you need for work before you can claim them.

You cannot claim these costs if you can get funding from another source.

Eligibility

You, your spouse and your children 18 years of age or older may be eligible for employment deductions in the month(s) you report earnings or profit.

Children attending secondary school full-time or a paid training program are not eligible.

You need to report the money you earn from a job or from running your own business to your caseworker. When you do this, you also need to report your child care and disability-related work costs. Your caseworker can tell you what to report and how.

Earning money from your business or self-employment

You need to tell your caseworker about money you and your family receive, including money earned from running a business (self-employment).

When you earn money from running your own business, you can claim some of the business expenses. Under the rules of ODSP, your profit is the money you earn from your business minus approved business expenses.

The profits you and your family earn are considered income and may reduce your income support.

You or any member of your family can earn up to $200 a month without having your income support reduced.

Half of your net profits above $200 are exempt — this means half of your profits above $200 do not affect your eligibility or the amount of money you get for income support.

You can also claim some of your child care and disability-related work costs as deductions from your profits before they reduce your income support.

What you need to report to your caseworker

You and your adult family members need to report:

  • the money you earn from running a business
  • your business expenses
  • your child care and disability-related work costs

Your caseworker can tell you how to report this information.

Your caseworker can help you figure out how your profits affect your income support.

Exceptions

We do not consider the profits of dependents under 18 years of age. Their profits are completely exempt.

If you or members of your family are enrolled full time in high school or an approved postsecondary institution, the postsecondary education earnings exemption may apply to you. If you qualify, your profits are exempt, but you still need to tell us about your earnings each month.

Claiming business expenses

You must have at least $100 per month in business expenses before you can claim a deduction for the purpose of ODSP. You can claim a Standard Expense Deduction of $100, and you do not have to provide proof of expenses for this deduction.

If your actual business expenses are more, you can claim the full amount of your expenses. You may be asked to provide proof of your business expenses, such as receipts or invoices.

Here are some examples of business expenses that you can claim for deduction:

  • supplies
  • tools and equipment
  • bookkeeping and legal fees
  • advertising and business cards
  • rent for your place of business (does not include rent for your home)

You cannot claim all of the business expenses that may be allowed under the federal and provincial income tax laws.

Here are some examples of expenses you cannot claim under ODSP:

  • wages for employees
  • gifts and entertainment
  • business losses
  • depreciation on business assets
  • conferences

Your caseworker can help you figure out which business expenses ODSP allows.

Profits from self-employment and running a business

We look at your revenue (or gross income). This is the money you earn from running a business.

We average this amount out over the year. For seasonal businesses, we average the amounts over the number of months the business is running.

We deduct the Standard Expense Deduction of $100 per month for miscellaneous business expenses, such as office supplies, raw materials or tools. If your actual “allowable” expenses are higher, you’ll need to show your caseworker receipts, and the actual amount can be deducted.

You can make up to $200 profit per month without a reduction to your income support. We apply this $200 earnings exemption to your monthly net profit.

We calculate half your monthly profits above $200. The other half is exempt.

If you have child care expenses or disability-related work expenses, these are deducted from this amount.

We subtract this final amount from your monthly income support.

Then we give you the $100 per month Work Related Benefit each month you have a profit.

Example

Nancy runs her own business all year round. She has a total of $9,600 in business income/revenue this year. She had $100 in business expenses each month. She had no childcare or disability-related work expenses. Before starting her business, she received $1,228 a month in income support.

Step 1

Average Nancy’s business income/revenue over the year
$9,600 ÷ 12 = $800 per month

Step 2

Deduct business expenses (- $100) to calculate net profits
$800 - $100 = $700

Step 3

Apply $200 earnings exemption to monthly net profit
$700 - $200 = $500

Step 4

Calculate half her monthly net profits above $200 (50%)
$500 × 50% = $250

Step 5

Subtract this amount from income support
$1,228 - $250 = $978

Step 6

Add Work Related Benefit (+ $100)
$978 + $100 = $1,078

Nancy will receive $1,078 from ODSP income support per month. Add this to her average net profits of $700 per month and she will have $1,778 each month.

When you work and earn money and pursue high school or postsecondary education

You may qualify for an earnings exemption under ODSP if you are both:

  • earning money from work or from a business
  • pursuing high school or postsecondary education

While you are enrolled full time in high school or postsecondary school:

  • all your earnings are exempt, which means the earnings will not affect your eligibility or the amount you get for income support
  • you can save the money you earn to pay for your school costs without affecting your income support

This means you can take full advantage of any increase to your earnings while you are enrolled in high school or postsecondary school.

If you are attending high school, your summer earnings are also exempt if you intend to return to school in the fall.

Since your earnings are completely exempt, you will not qualify for the Work-Related Benefit.

If you are in postsecondary school, the exemption applies to the four months preceding your attendance in postsecondary school. This is called the pre-study period. The exemption also applies while you are attending postsecondary school.

For example, if you are starting postsecondary education for the school year starting in September and ending in April, your pre-study period is May to August. Your earnings from May to April will be exempt.

This full earnings exemption applies to all adult family members who attend either high school or postsecondary school full time.

If you are planning to go to high school or postsecondary school, contact your caseworker for information about how the postsecondary earnings exemption applies.

Employment deductions for child care and disability-related work costs

Money or profit that you earn is considered income and may reduce the amount of Income Support you receive each month.

However, ODSP lets you claim some of your child care and disability-related work costs as deductions from your earnings or profits before they reduce your Income Support.

Deductions for child care costs

Every month that you report earnings, you can claim:

  • the full cost of licensed child care from a provider licensed by the province to provide child care services, such as licensed daycare
  • up to $600 per child for unlicensed (informal) child care, such as nannies and after-school programs
  • the full cost of before-and after-school programs offered as part of full-day kindergarten

You cannot claim child care costs if either:

  • the caregiver is a family member receiving income support with you
  • you can get child care funding from another source

Rapid training opportunities

Micro-credentials

If you are on ODSP and want to acquire new in-demand skills, you are eligible for rapid training opportunities known as micro-credentials without affecting your income support from ODSP.

Micro-credentials are offered by postsecondary schools and take less time to complete than degrees or diplomas. They may be completed online, may include on-the-job training, and are often created with input from business sectors, so you learn skills that employers are looking for.

You can also get financial assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to help with the cost of micro-credentials. Receiving financial assistance from OSAP will not affect your income support from ODSP.

Learn more about micro-credentials

Leaving ODSP for paid work

ODSP can help you and your family if you leave ODSP for a paying job. Talk to your case worker about:

  • the Extended Health Benefit and Transitional Health Benefit to help you and your family pay for some of your health costs if they are high or if you don’t get health benefits from your employer
  • getting support at your job (for example, accommodations for your disability)

Leaving ODSP for the Better Jobs Ontario program

  • ODSP health benefits may continue to be available to help you and your family if you leave the program to participate in the Better Jobs Ontario (formerly Second Career) program.
  • Talk to your case worker about the Extended Health Benefit to help you and your family pay for some of your health costs.

Employment Transition Benefit

If you and your family are leaving ODSP for paid work, you may be able to get a $500 Employment Transition Benefit. This benefit can help you move from income support to employment. You can use this money any way you like.

Paid work can be a full-time or part-time job, a paid training program or running your own business.

This benefit is available once in a 12-month period. Only $500 per family will be given, regardless of how many family members are working.

Getting this benefit

Contact your local ODSP office and speak with you caseworker. They will tell you if are eligible for the Employment Transition Benefit. We will add the benefit to your last monthly income support payment if you are eligible.

Returning to ODSP after getting paid work

If you lose you job or can no longer work and need financial help, the first thing you need to do is find out if you qualify for Employment Insurance.

If you need income support from ODSP, call your caseworker or local ODSP office to find out if  you are eligible for rapid reinstatement.