New Reviews of ongoing ODSP Entitlement VERY IMPORTANT

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shartal@rogers.com
New Reviews of ongoing ODSP Entitlement VERY IMPORTANT

Subject: VERY! very important! ODSP is reviewing ongoing medical eligibility just like the UK, USA

1)The Social Assistance Review Commission's report recommended that ODSP review the ongoing entitlement to benefits of current recipients who have review dates. Most recipients have review dates.

2)The Commission estimated that at the time of the report there were over 30,000 outstanding reviews and that the Province could save many $millions if recipients whose health had improved were cut off benefits.

3) It has started and the method by which the reviews are happening will itself result in many thousands of very disabled people being cut off benefits.

4) The process is that the local ODSP office is sending new forms to each recipient. These forms are almost identical to the original DDPs. The recipient is expected to take these forms to doctors. Then the forms are sent to the DAU (ODSP medical decision makers).

5) If the recipient does not send the forms back they will be cut off benefits.

6) If the doctor filling in the forms does not provide enough information to prove the case the person is cut

7) I think that most of my clients will not be able to complete this process. They will be cut off because they do not send in the forms.

8) Further I anticipate that many psychiatric survivors and HIV survivors who have stabilized will be deemed able. This will probably include most of the people in the Ambassador program and those recipients who are able to work part time.

9) I believe that at a minimum the process of reapplication may be legally challengeable as it it bureaucratic disentitlement. I also believe that it is important to both warn and assist current ODSP recipients who are now and who will be forced to respond to this awful neoliberal attack.

10) Please contact me if anyone wants to work on this issue.

onlinediscountanvils

Thanks for this info. Does this impact everyone currently on ODSP, or are recipients who were recieving assistance under the Family Benefits Act exempt? It's been my longstanding impression that those recipients were "grandparented", and exempt from any medical reassessments. But since the ministry revoked people's "permanent" Special Diet Allowances, I don't trust anything the government promises.

shartal@rogers.com

I do not know about people who were grandfathered from FBA, they may not have review date. Most current ODSP recipients have review dates. The only people who do not have review dates are people who were deemed so seriously unwell that they were never likely to recover.

onlinediscountanvils

Thanks. I'll ask around to see if people I know have been receiving these review forms. I had been aware that many people have been coming up for financial review, to make sure they still qualified based on things like residency and (lack of) means, but I hadn't heard anything about wholesale medical reviews. That's horrific.

When I've come up for financial review, I've been told each time that my medical eligibility would never be reviewed because my file dates back to the FBA days.

Of course, the fear that we'd be facing widescale disentitlement has been around for a while - at least since the Lankin and Sheikh report, but I always expected that it would require a change in the legislation. It's extremely worrisome that they're able to do this under the existing legislation.

shartal@rogers.com

This policy was part of the recommendations buried in the report. Page 121 I think. It was in a financial section.

shartal@rogers.com

This policy was part of the recommendations buried in the report. Page 121 I think. It was in a financial section.

zerocarbs

How would you know whether you have a review date? My son is schizophrenic and has been on ODSP for years. I don't recall him having ever had a review. What had been good news suddenly sounds like bad news: he has been very conscientious about taking his meds, and is now studying at a community college and doing quite well, albeit with a reduced course load owing to his disability. If he was cut off ODSP, he would be cut off the disability program at the school. His pyschiatrist is useless and refused to fill in the forms for the disability tax credit properly, so we lost that a few years ago. It has cost us thousands. Back when he wasn't as stable, he couldn't even hold down a job as a parking lot attendant (in spite of having excellent time-keeping - that takes some doing.)

shartal@rogers.com

Call ODSP and ask

shartal@rogers.com

Call ODSP and ask

shartal@rogers.com

Zero carbs, email me if he gets a review

zerocarbs

Thanks, Shartal. His current ODSP worker is very nice, and easy to contact, but I'm a bit superstitious about things like this - I wouldn't want to inadvertently trigger a review. I think I'll wait and see if anything arrives in the mail.

shartal@rogers.com

The reviews are legally mandated. You can't trigger it.

onlinediscountanvils

But if they're not all being done at once, couldn't your review be moved toward the front of the line?

I don't know how they're implementing it, but the section of the report you referenced suggested "a strategy to address the backlog by undertaking 600 medical reviews per month for a four-year period".

shartal@rogers.com

I have no idea how they are choosing who I the backlog is reviewed first.

shartal@rogers.com

Economically they benefit most; from cutting off younger recipients.

onlinediscountanvils

True. I wonder if there were any identifiable patterns in who was asked to re-apply for the Special Diet Allowance. I know it took a few years before they got around to everyone.

shartal@rogers.com

Observations on ODSP entitlement for cumulative disabilities and review dates.

After a review of my own casework statistics and statistics I have received from both the ODSP and the SBT I realize that in 18 years of casework I have no cases in which ODSP entitlement was awarded to an applicant diagnosed with only one disability. Moreover the statistics Appear to document a very small number of individuals who are awarded entitlement on the basis of one sole diagnosis.

If the finding that an individual is a person with disabilities as defined in the ODSPA the basis of the cumulative effect of a number of disabilities then it also seems consistent for the ODSP to ask whether any one of these subset of disabilities has significantly improved.

Several years ago the ODSP undertook a pilot project on reviews of ongoing entitlement in several hundred cases. The central ODSP circulated a list of disabilities that would be targeted for review. Most of these diagnoses were mental health diagnosis with a high number of mood disorder diagnosis like anxiety, depression and PTSD targeted for review. As I remember they targeted the cases by the listing of the disabilities. I believe they were NOT chosen by the prominence of the diagnosed condition in the determination.

I believe this review was done before the practical expansion of entitlement for severe addictions.

I believe the initial pilot project included 600 cases. For clients who had been cut off benefits were referred to me, 2 from Woodgreen community services and 2 from OCAP. All 4 were diagnosed with combinations of anxiety, depression and PTSD. Although eventually all four cases were allowed by the SBT they were all given additional review dates.

Mórríghain

Does anyone have any evidence of these reviews currently taking place? I ask because my partner and I have searched for more information regarding these reviews and found nothing. The Toronto Star that I used to write for would've been all over this story.

shartal@rogers.com

I confirmed it yesterday with the head office of the DAU. The Lankin report proposed acting on the reviews (page 121) that already existed but had not been acted on. Most people who go on ODSP have medical review datesThe review decisions have always been part to the law but for at least a few years the ODSP did not act on them. The decision to enforce the review dates in the only part and there was no memo or announcement . In addition part of the central problem is how the reviews are done. Currently they are asking recipients for what is essentially an application de novo, a complete reapplication. They are sending forms to recipients homes and giving them 90 days to complete them. Official ODSP statistics quoted in the Lankin report, document that 65 to 70% of everyone on ODSP lives with a severe mental health disability. The report notes that this is probably an underestimation. Thus they are sending multi page forms with a 90 day timeline to people who at least episodically have significant cognitive and perceptual impairments. Thus I believe the process to be correctly characterized and bureaucratic Disentitlement ( legal term) or denial by process. If a recipient does not return the completed forms within the time limits they can be automatically cut off.

shartal@rogers.com

The process of limiting WSIB support for injured workers by redefining the standards for entitlement through policy changes avoids the messiness of a public democratic discussion. This is what is starting to happen within the ODSP system.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/06/27/ontarios_workers_co...

shartal@rogers.com

The process of limiting WSIB support for injured workers by redefining the standards for entitlement through policy changes avoids the messiness of a public democratic discussion. This is what is starting to happen within the ODSP system.

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/06/27/ontarios_workers_co...

onlinediscountanvils

Nothing here that shartal hasn't already outlined, but it's good to see that word is starting to spread.

[url=http://www.ocap.ca/node/1180]Ontario Government Launches Major Attack on ODSP[/url]

onlinediscountanvils

Thanks again for your work on this, Sarah.

Kelly Pflug-Back: [url=http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/systemic-shortcomings-odsp-review-proc... Shortcomings in ODSP Review Process Could Spell Disaster for Recipients[/url]

“I work with clients who have mental heath and addiction issues, who are homeless or marginally housed,” said Sarah Shartal, a Toronto lawyer. “The process of reviewing involves ODSP mailing out a new application form, which presumes that clients will understand the paperwork. When I started this work 18 years ago, ODSP was sending written letters to blind schizophrenics. The system is run by a computer program. My clients would pass the revue, but they can't get through the process. Few of them have the same address or doctor as when they did the initial entitlement, and if it's not done in 90 days, benefits will be cut off.”

The legal term for this, Shartal explained is 'bureaucratic disentitlement'. “We don't ask people in wheelchairs to be able to climb stairs for administrative tasks, yet we know that at least 70% of people on disability have perceptual and cognitive impairments, and we expect them to understand these forms.”

Gloria Ichim, a Kitchener-based lawyer who specializes in ODSP appeal cases for Legal Assistance of Windsor, has also dealt with the frustrations of ODSP's accessibility deficits. “The forms are 12 pages long, and written in legal jargon,” she said. “A person without disabilities can't understand them, yet people with cognitive impairments are expected to be able to. On top of that, most doctors don't understand these forms. They could literally write “this person is disabled” and still have the claim rejected. Doctors don't understand what the system is saying, and the system doesn't understand what doctors are saying. The process can be incredibly traumatizing for clients.”

onlinediscountanvils

[url=http://stillmyrevolution.org/2014/10/10/invisible-austerity-how-the-libe... Austerity: How the Liberals are Getting Away with Slashing Social Assistance[/url] by A.J. Withers

There has been a consistent and concerted concealed attack on social assistance recipients in Ontario under the Liberal government. Why haven’t more people fought back – especially when poor people were being attacked under Harris the Left was united against those attacks. I think there are two key reasons for this. The first is that the Liberals employ this notion of constructive engagement – the appearance that they are approachable and will listen to us. But while segments on the Left talk with them they are fucking us over. The second reason is deeply related – certain sectors of the Province are much safer under the Liberals than the Tories. The Liberals were never going to lay 100,000 people off, for example. So, people take small concessions from the Liberals and don’t fight them – essentially selling out the most vulnerable to be less insecure. Rather try and slow the rate of austerity, we think that it needs to be stopped and that, if we are united, we can stop it.

NDPP

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

[url=http://stillmyrevolution.org/2014/10/10/invisible-austerity-how-the-libe... Austerity: How the Liberals are Getting Away with Slashing Social Assistance[/url] by A.J. Withers

 – essentially selling out the most vulnerable to be less insecure. Rather try and slow the rate of austerity

The unfortunate modus operandi cited  is now a standard response to this systematic oppression - the bigger fish allow, facilitate and even broker the eating of the smaller. "Better them than me" is the Canuckle-head operational principle.

onlinediscountanvils

Carol Goar: [url=http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/02/05/stop-blaming-comput... blaming ‘computer glitch’ for welfare woes[/url]

Maybe this isn’t a computer problem. Maybe it goes deeper than technology.

If that turns out to be true, the $242-million social assistance management program that the government just rolled out will never work. Computers treat people as interchangeable widgets. They don’t take into account that Ontarians who depend on social assistance (446,500 welfare recipients, 448,500 disability support recipients) have unpredictable lives, unstable housing, intermittent earnings and episodic illnesses. They don’t allow for flexibility or discretion.

That was the fundamental flaw in Ontario’s previous social assistance management system. Initially policy analysts thought its design errors were correctable. But when the province finally got the bugs out — at a cost of $200 million — the truth became apparent. The system was doing exactly what it was meant to do: reducing the government’s payroll, eliminating the room for individual judgment, penalizing recipients for deviating from the province’s harsh rules, and cutting the welfare rolls.

The provincial Liberals inherited that year-old system when they took power in 2003. They could have replaced it, repurposed it or gone back to a face-to-face system. But they didn’t. What they did instead was add more rules, make a few minor adjustments and create new incentives to push people into the workforce.

Nor will the new system make allowance for unforeseen circumstances: domestic violence, evictions, sudden changes in earnings, medical emergencies or funerals. That was never the intent, as Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek made clear. The government was modernizing its computer software to deliver social assistance benefits “more efficiently and consistently.”

onlinediscountanvils

Just par for the course in Ontario...

[url=http://metronews.ca/news/toronto/1301301/computer-error-causes-privacy-b... error causes privacy breach for 700 Ontario welfare and disability recipients[/url]

The Ontario government has mistakenly released private information belonging to hundreds of social assistance recipients.

Social insurance numbers of more than 700 welfare and disability support program recipients were disclosed to third parties, along with the amount of assistance they received last year, the Ministry of Community and Social Services admitted Monday.

onlinediscountanvils

[url=http://www.ocap.ca/node/1225]Official Raise the Rates Campaign Statement on ODSP Medical Reviews[/url]

The Medical Reviews for those on ODSP must be suspended!

The Raise the Rates campaign of community groups and unions calls on the Wynne Government to immediately suspend the implementation of medical reviews for people on ODSP. The accelerated review process is occurring at the worst possible time for people living in poverty and under conditions that have not been properly prepared.

The reviews are presently taking place in the midst of a major crisis within the social assistance system brought on the by introduction of the SAMS software. All across Ontario, OW and ODSP offices have been thrown into crisis. To transfer people from ODSP to OW in significant numbers, which could be the result of the review process, while the delivery system is in complete disarray, would only make things worse. The reviews must be suspended until SAMS is actually working to meet people's needs or its failure has been acknowledged and the system withdrawn.

In addition, it is massively unfair for these medical reviews to proceed while there is a huge backlog waiting to be transferred onto ODSP from OW. The fact that people whose disability has has been accepted by ODSP are waiting for the ODSP benefits they are entitled to, while the Government presses ahead with enhanced medical reviews, is a clear indication that austerity driven cost savings are the issue and not the needs of people on social assistance. Until those needs have been addressed, the reviews must be put on hold.

Finally, we are demanding that certain basic changes must occur before the reviews proceed. At present, they are virtually a repeat of the original ODSP application process. They need to be far less stringent and complex in line with their role of reassessing rather than establishing entitlement. It is also necessary to ensure that no one has their ODSP benefits cancelled or interrupted unless it is clear that they are aware that they face review and that they have proper access to medical and advocacy services. Anything less than this will ensure the process is not one of legitimate review but of saving money for the Ontario government at the expense of people in poverty.

For all these reasons, Raise the Rates demands that the Ontario Government immediately suspend these reviews until these conditions are addressed and a properly prepared fair and reasonable medical review process has been put in place. .

Endorsed by

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)CUPE OntarioHealth for All

To add your organization as an endorser, contact ocap@tao.ca