If you disagree with a decision
While applying for or receiving Ontario Works benefits, there is a chance you may disagree with an Employment and Social Services staff member’s decision about your case. If this happens, you can ask for the decision to be reviewed. The formal review process involves:
- an Internal Review and, if necessary,
- an Appeal.
When a decision is made about your eligibility for Ontario Works Assistance, your caseworker will send you a Notice of Decision letter that will:
- let you know that a decision has been made about your case.
- outline the reason(s) the decision was made and tell you what steps you can take to address the matter.
- let you know how you can request an Internal Review if you still do not agree with the decision and would like to appeal.
Before asking for an Internal Review, a good first step may be to ask your caseworker about the situation. For example, if you receive a Notice of Decision letter that states information is needed, you may want to contact your caseworker. If you cannot resolve the issue with your caseworker, you may speak to a supervisor.
Internal Review Process
You can request an internal review for decisions staff make regarding your Ontario Works benefits. You have 30 days from the day you receive the Notice of Decision letter to submit a written request to have your case reviewed.
Your request should include:
- a statement that you wish to have the decision reviewed
- the reason you disagree with the decision, and
- your first and last name (printed), date of birth and signature.
Your request can be in a letter or you can complete an Request for Internal Review Form.
When you request an internal review, your file will be reviewed. You may receive a telephone call at some point during the review to further discuss your situation. If there is any information that you have not already provided that might help resolve the issue, you should provide it at this time.
The review will be completed 30 days upon receiving your written request. You will be informed in writing of the results and what you should do, if you continue to disagree.
Before you file an appeal with the Tribunal you must request an Internal Review from the office that made the original decision. However if the office has not completed the Internal Review within 30 days of your request, you can then appeal to the Social Benefits Tribunal directly.
Appealing a Decision
If you disagree with the results of the Internal Review, you may want to take the next step in the review process. Your Internal Review Decision letter will tell you whether you can appeal the decision to:
- the Social Benefits Tribunal (as not all decisions can be appealed)
- the Decision Review Committee
Social Benefits Tribunal
The Social Benefits Tribunal is an independent group that is separate from Employment and Social Services and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Tribunal holds hearings which are similar to court, but less formal.
If your Internal Review Decision letter states that you can appeal, then you can fill out and send an Appeal form to the Social Benefits Tribunal. You must send in this form within 30 days of receiving your Internal Review Decision letter.
Appeal forms are available at your local Employment and Social Services office or from the Social Benefits Tribunal website. Send your completed Appeal form to:
The Social Benefits Tribunal
1075 Bay Street, 7th Floor
Toll-free number: 1-800-753-3895
After you send in your Appeal form, you will receive a letter from the Social Benefits Tribunal stating the date, time and location of your appeal hearing. For more information read the Social Benefits Tribunal brochure.
Interim assistance is financial aid you may be eligible to receive while waiting for your hearing with the Social Benefits Tribunal. Contact the Social Benefits Tribunal to apply for interim assistance.
Decision Review Committee
Under the Ontario Works Act there are certain decisions that cannot be appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal. In these situations, you may be able to request a review of your case by the Decision Review Committee. Some of the areas that the committee will review include:
- Dental benefits
- Emergency Energy Fund (EEF)
- Eyeglasses benefits
- Employment Related Expenses (such as transportation costs)
- Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF)
- Investing in Families (IIF)
- Referrals to or funding for training programs or other Ontario Works activities.
You must make your request for a review by the committee in writing. Send the request to:
Decision Review Committee
c/o Appeals Review Unit
111 Wellesley St E., 4th Floor
The Decision Review Committee does not hold in-person appeal hearings. Decisions reached by the Decision Review Committee are final. The Decision Review Committee will:
- review your case,
- send you a written decision, and
- send a copy of the decision to your Employment and Social Services office for follow up.
- Ontario Works Act and Regulations – provincial legislation that governs Ontario Works
- Social Benefits Tribunal – reviews social assistance decisions that can be appealed under the Ontario Works Act.
- Social Benefits Tribunal brochure How to appeal your decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal
- Legal Services can help you appeal a decision.