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Appealing a decision about social assistance

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Step 1: Ask for an internal review

The first thing you have to do is write to the office that made the decision and ask them to do an “internal review”. The address is in the Notice of Decision.

Someone from the same office will review the decision and decide whether or not to change it. This will be a different person than the one who made the first decision.

For OW, this will be your local OW office.

For ODSP, you will ask either the Disability Adjudication Unit (DAU) in Toronto or your local ODSP office, depending on which office made the decision.

You must do this within 30 days from the date you got the decision.

Rules about mail

If OW or ODSP mail a notice to you, the rules say that you get it 3 days after they mail it to you.

There should be a mailing date stamped on the envelope by Canada Post. It might not be the same as the date on the letter.

Always keep the letter and the envelope so you can prove when you got a letter or notice.

How to ask for an internal review

You must ask in writing. You can use the form letter at the back of this booklet. Or, you can write your own letter.

Make sure to include:

  • your name and address
  • the date on the Notice of Decision
  • the date you got the Notice of Decision
  • your member identification number, which has 9 digits and is on the Notice of Decision

Say that you want an internal review. It may be helpful to give reasons why you do not agree with the decision.

But meeting the deadline is more important than giving detailed reasons. This is because if you miss the deadline you do not have the right to appeal.

You can also include any new information or documents that help show why the decision was wrong.

You may be able to get help from a community legal clinic to make your request for internal review. See How can I get legal help?

Delivering the letter to the office

Sign and date the letter. Keep a copy for yourself.

You can send the letter by fax or mail.

Or, you or someone else might be able to take the letter to the office that is doing the internal review. For example, you might be able to take it to your local OW or ODSP office.

If you take it to the office, ask for a receipt to prove when you delivered it. If you fax it, get a report from the fax machine to show the date the fax was sent. If you mail it, make a note of the date you put it in the mail.

Getting an internal review decision

Within 30 days of when you ask for it, the office should give you their internal review decision.

The law says that they should make the internal review decision as quickly as possible, and give it to you in writing.

If your request for internal review is late

You have 30 days from when you get a decision about your assistance to ask for an internal review of that decision.

If you miss the deadline, ask for an internal review as soon as you can.

Explain why your request is late and ask for more time.

If you can show that you have a good reason, you might still get an internal review. Some good reasons why your request is late could be:

  • you were in the hospital or in jail
  • you contacted a lawyer or legal clinic and were waiting to get legal advice from them
  • you have problems with reading or writing
  • mail took longer than 3 days to reach you