OW or ODSP: Which one to apply for – CLEO

Reviewed: May, 2020

Ontario Works (OW)

Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)

Think about applying for financial assistance from OW if you need money because: Think about applying for income support from ODSP if your income is low and:
  • You can’t find work
  • You have a disability
You can’t work right now. For example, you might not be able to work because:

  • you’re a caregiver for a family member who needs ongoing daily physical assistance because of a disability, illness, or old age
  • you’re a sole-support parent and your child has not started school yet
  • You can prove your disability by having an approved health professional confirm that:
    • you have a physical or mental health problem that’s expected to last a year or more, and
    • your health problem limits your ability to work, look after yourself, or do daily activities
  • Your health problem is substantial and limits your abilities in a substantial way
  • You’re working but making so little money that you qualify for assistance or
  • You’re applying to ODSP but you need money while you wait for a decision
Some people can qualify without proof of a disability. For example:

  • you get disability benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP-D) or the Québec Pension Plan
  • you’re over 65 years old but are not eligible for Old Age Security

For more information:

CLEO’s Steps to Justice website has more information about income assistance.
Visit stepstojustice.ca/legal-topic/ income-assistance.
This is general information for people in Ontario, Canada. It is not intended to be used as legal advice.

Reviewed: May, 2020
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