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Changes To The ODSP Exemptions For Pain And Suffering Awards

The Ontario Disability Support Program provides income assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to illness or disability. Typically, to be eligible for the program, individuals must not own assets or cash over an amount specified by legislation. Compensation awards for pain and suffering arising from a lawsuit are considered “assets”. Until recently, the ODSP exempted pain and suffering awards up to $100,000 only – which meant that catastrophically impaired individuals who received substantially more than $100,000 often faced the probability that their ODSP benefits would be “clawed back”.

Effective August 1, 2017, the Ontario government has now amended the legislation so that the entirety of the pain and suffering award is exempted. Similarly, awards for loss of care, guidance and companionship under section 61 of the Family Law Act are now also exempted. See section 28 (1) paragraph 14, of the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c.25, Sch. B