Appeal and Hearing Process
If you do not agree with the decision of your Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works (OW) Office, you must ask the office which made the decision for an internal review. The SBT does not decide internal reviews.
You have 30 days to request the internal review after you receive your decision. The office then has 30 days to respond to your request. If you still disagree with the decision, you must file your appeal with the SBT within 30 days of receiving the internal review decision, or within 30 days of the date that the internal review decision should have been issued.
Late internal review
If you ask for an internal review more than 30 days after receiving your decision, you must explain why your request is late and ask the ODSP or OW office for an extension of time. If the request for the extension is granted and you are not satisfied with the result of the review, you may appeal to the SBT. If the extension is not granted, you may not appeal to the SBT.
Some OW or ODSP decisions cannot be appealed to the SBT
Some decisions cannot be appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal. These include:
- Decisions about discretionary benefits
- Decisions not to extend the time for internal review
- Decisions about paying a portion of financial assistance directly to a third party
- Decisions about employment supports
Getting legal help
You may get legal help from community legal clinics, a private lawyer or a paralegal. If you want help from a legal aid clinic, it is important to contact the clinic as soon as possible. Legal aid clinics are very busy and will need time to set up appointments with you to review your file and obtain any documents they think are important to your case. For more information, see Getting Legal Help.
You can file your appeal by mail, or by fax. There is no fee to file an appeal with the SBT. The Appeal (Form 1) is available online, from the SBT office, at any OW or ODSP office, and at community legal clinics. If you need help to understand the form you can call the SBT.
About 2 weeks after you file your appeal form you will receive a letter with your SBT file number. Keep your file number in a safe place – you will need it whenever you contact the SBT.
To file an appeal, go to Forms & Filing.
Notice of Appeal to ODSP or OW Office
The SBT will send a copy of your appeal to the ODSP or OW office. The ODSP or OW office then has 30 days to:
- File a Response to Appeal (Form 3) with the SBT and send you a copy. The Response to Appeal says whether the office has any preliminary objections (e.g. the office takes the position that an internal review hasn’t taken place or that the SBT doesn’t have jurisdiction to consider your appeal) and whether they are making a written submission.
- Provide you and the SBT its written submission, if they are making one. A written submission gives more information about why the ODSP or OW office made the decision.
Notice of Hearing
The SBT will issue a Notice of Hearing that tells you when and where your hearing will take place. This usually happens 4-8 weeks after you file the appeal.The Notice of Hearing will tell you whether your hearing will be held by telephone, by video conference or in writing.
Your hearing will take place about 10 months after you file your appeal.
During this time, gather and submit information or evidence which you believe will help support your appeal, e.g. medical records, banking information, separation papers and custody reports. These documents must be submitted to the SBT and the ODSP or OW office as soon as possible.
Documents should be readable, double spaced and have margins on both sides of the page. The pages must be numbered. If you are sending more than one document, include a cover page that lists the title of each document and its page number. For details, see Rule 5 of the Rules of Procedure.
At least 20 days before the hearing, you must send the ODSP or OW office a list of all your witnesses. Send the SBT your witness list at the same time.
For disability appeals: You will need to send any new medical documents (“new” means documents that were not on file with the Disability Adjudication Unit when they made the decision you are appealing) to the Disability Adjudication Unit and the SBT together with a New Medical Information form (Form 5).
For more information about disclosure of documents and witnesses, see Rule 5 and 7 of the SBT’s Rules of Procedure.
If you move or your contact information changes you must tell the SBT right away. Call or write your Appeal Resolution Officer (ARO) with your updated information. If you want to withdraw your appeal, let the ARO know as soon as possible. For more information, see Rule 9 of the SBT’s Rules of Procedure.
Requesting an Adjournment
If you think you need to adjourn your hearing to a later date, the Practice Direction on Rescheduling of Hearings and Adjournments provides information on how to ask for an adjournment.
You must first send your request to the ODSP or OW office to ask for their consent to adjourn. Once you have heard back from that office, send their response and your request to the SBT.
If the SBT has denied your request for a new hearing date or if you have not received a response to your adjournment request, you must attend the hearing. You can ask the member to adjourn the hearing when you arrive, but you must be ready to proceed if your request is refused.
On the day of your hearing, please arrive 15 minutes early. SBT members hear more than one appeal in a morning or afternoon. You may have to sit in the waiting room before your hearing.
There is no dress code for the hearing.
SBT hearings are private and confidential. A typical hearing could include:
- The SBT member who hears and decides the appeal
- You and your legal representative, if you have one
- A representative from Ontario Disability Support Program or Ontario Works
- A friend or family member to support you
- An interpreter, if you have asked for one.
The role of the member
When the hearing starts, the member will describe the hearing process and say what the issue being appealed is. The member may ask you and the ODSP/OW representative whether you agree on the issue being appealed and any facts.
The member controls the hearing. Because the member has to stay neutral, he or she cannot provide legal advice or tell you how to present your case. The member may ask questions to better understand your position or your evidence.
When the hearing is over, the member considers all the evidence and arguments, makes a decision and writes a decision explaining the result.
The hearing will be recorded. The recording is available on request for a small fee. See: Practice Direction on Recording Proceedings.
The role of the parties
The hearing is your opportunity to explain why you think the decision is wrong and give your evidence. Both sides will present their arguments. The member and the representative from the ODSP or OW office may ask you questions.
Everyone participating in the hearing is expected to be courteous and respectful of each other. See SJTO Common Rule A7.
When will I receive my decision?
The SBT member does not give the decision at the end of the hearing. You will receive a written decision within 60 days of when your hearing ends. If you have not received the decision within 60 days, contact us.
What happens if I win my appeal?
The SBT will order the ODSP or OW office to correct what the SBT found was wrong with its decision. For example:
- If your assistance was cancelled, it will be restored.
- If you are found “to be a person with a disability”, the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) will send you a letter to let you know. The letter also tells you that the local ODSP office will contact you.
- If the SBT decides that an overpayment was assessed incorrectly, the amount you owe will be reduced or reversed.
The ODSP or OW office must implement the decision even if it plans to ask the SBT to reconsider the decision or to appeal the decision to the Divisional Court.
What happens if I lose my appeal?
If you lose your appeal, the SBT will not order any changes to the ODSP or OW office’s decision.
If you received interim assistance during the appeal period, the money you received will be treated as an overpayment and you may have to pay it back.
Applying for reconsideration
If you lose your appeal and feel the SBT made an error in its decision, you have 30 days to ask for a reconsideration by completing an Application for Reconsideration (Form 2). You can download the form, or call us and we will mail it to you. The tribunal will review the application, determine if a new hearing should be held and send you a letter with that decision.
The SBT may reconsider if it appears there:
- is a legal or jurisdictional error
- was procedural unfairness
- are new facts that were not available at the time of the hearing which could change the decision
Your ODSP or OW local office can also apply for a reconsideration of a decision.
The Practice Direction on Reconsideration Requests explains the process in more detail.
If your request is granted, a new hearing will be scheduled. If your request is denied, you can choose to accept the decision or appeal it to Divisional Court.
Late applications for reconsideration
The SBT may consider a late Application for Reconsideration if there is a good reason for the delay. It cannot accept an application for reconsideration made more than one year after the date of the decision.
Appealing to Divisional Court
You can appeal the SBT’s final decision to the Divisional Court, but only based on an error of law and not on any findings of fact. Your appeal must be filed in the Divisional Court within 30 days of receiving the decision.
If either party has applied to the SBT for a reconsideration, you have to wait for the outcome before beginning your appeal. You have 30 days from when you receive the reconsideration decision to file an appeal with the Divisional Court. You can contact the courthouse for more information about the appeal process. You can also download the Guide to Appeals in Divisional Court from the Divisional Court's website. You might want to get legal advice before deciding whether to appeal.
The Divisional Court’s decisions are available on CanLII.
Your ODSP or OW local office can also file an appeal to the Divisional Court.
An Early Resolution Opportunity (ERO) is an opportunity for all of the parties involved to talk informally and try to resolve the issue under appeal before the hearing. An ERO is usually scheduled shortly after the appeal is filed. An ERO can result in an exchange of information, documents and may narrow or resolve the issues being appealed.
An Appeal Resolution Officer acts as a mediator during the ERO. The Appeal Resolution Officer does not act on your behalf; he or she helps keep the discussion on topic.
Not every issue can be scheduled for an ERO. If you want more information on the ERO program or you want to know why your file was not scheduled for an ERO, contact us. More information about EROs is available in the Practice Direction on Early Resolution Opportunities.
If you are experiencing financial hardship while you wait for your appeal to be decided you can ask the SBT for interim assistance by completing Section 4 of the Appeal (Form 1). Interim assistance is financial help for the period of your appeal.
The SBT can order that you receive interim assistance if you will experience financial hardship as a result of the decision made by the social assistance office. To help the SBT determine whether you are eligible for interim assistance, you need to provide information about your income and your expenses. For more information, see the Appeal Form and the Practice Direction on Interim Assistance.
Complete requests for interim assistance are normally processed quickly. If your appeal is denied, the interim assistance you have received will be assessed as an overpayment by your local office and you will have to pay it back.
Being granted interim assistance does not mean you have won your appeal.
Extension of interim assistance
Interim assistance is for a limited period of time. If your interim assistance is due to expire and you are still experiencing financial hardship, you can request an extension of the interim assistance order.
Fax or mail your written request no later than 14 days before your interim assistance is due to expire. In your request, confirm that you continue to experience financial hardship. If your request is urgent or you can’t mail or fax it, call us.
Your request will be reviewed quickly.
If your request is granted, you and your ODSP or OW office will receive an Extension of Interim Assistance order in the mail.
Late request for extension of interim assistance
If you are late requesting an extension and your interim assistance order has expired, you will need to reapply for interim assistance.
ODSP or OW objection to interim assistance
If your ODSP or OW office disagrees with the SBT’s decision to grant you interim assistance, they can file an objection in writing with the SBT within 7 days of receiving the order. You will also receive a copy. After you receive the objection, you have seven days to respond. Your response must be in writing.
If the ODSP or OW doesn’t object right away, they will have to pay the interim assistance and file the objection later.