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Social assistance rules about couples: What you need to know if you live with someone

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Table of contents

Is this publication for you?

Read this to learn about the rules that Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) use to decide:

  • whether 2 adults who live together are spouses
  • when 2 people who live together must apply as a couple for social assistance

Other publications that may help you

CLEO has more publications on social assistance and other legal topics. You can read them on our website or order free copies. Go to or call 416-408-4420.


If you speak French

Ask a lawyer or a community legal clinic about your language rights. You may have the right to get your OW- and ODSP-related government services in French.

If you are appealing a decision about your right to social assistance from OW or ODSP, this could mean that you have the right to a hearing before a French-speaking member of the Social Benefits Tribunal, as well as other French-language services. Click here for information about appeals.

Si vous parlez français

Communiquez avec un avocat ou une clinique juridique communautaire, et informez‑vous de vos droits linguistiques. Vous pourriez avoir droit à ce que les services gouvernementaux reliés à Ontario au travail (OT) et au Programme ontarien de soutien aux personnes handicapées (POSPH) vous soient fournis en français.

Si vous avez fait appel d’une décision concernant votre droit à l’aide sociale d’OT or du POSPH, vous pourriez avoir droit à une audience devant un membre du Tribunal de l’aide sociale qui parle français, de même qu’à d’autres services en français.