Special Diet

The Special Diet Supplement is a good way to get some extra money for you and your family. It used to be easy to get $250 for each person in your family but when Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal government found out poor people were getting enough to eat, they changed it so everyone has to reapply and thousands of people will permanently lose their diets.

Special Diet Update

Did you get a letter about the new special diet in mail?
This is what is going on:
After announcing in the 2010 provincial budget last March that the Special Diet Allowance would be completely eliminated (and therefore cutting overall Social Assistance rates by 3%), the McGuinty Government has now revealed plans to instead massively reduce access to the vital benefit for people on social assistance. But let us not be fooled– while the Liberals have partially backed off no doubt due to the overwhelming community outrage and huge mobilization against the cut, we have unfortunately not succeeded in keeping this life saving benefit.

The new system will provide benefits for fewer conditions and applicants will have to release medical information and face other intrusive measures designed to prevent access to the benefit. Please see below for details. Within the Liberals’ own statement about this measure, they refer to the fact that ‘many will not be eligible,’ and this is a move to ‘respect taxpayers’ from the supposed thousands of ‘cheaters’ who previously survived on the Special Diet.

To be clear - the 1 in 5 people on assistance who accessed the Special Diet- only then being able to afford food and rent -are not scammers or frauds; they are people trying to survive after being forced into poverty because of this Government’s policies. The fact that thousands of people and their families looked for access to the Special Diet, and poured out in huge numbers to defend the benefit from being cut, should be seen for what it is - a sign of serious hunger and desperation in this province.

Now, that the only means available to partly compensate for OW/ODSP rates (the Special Diet) is being gutted. People will become hungrier and sicker. People will also be angry and looking for ways to challenge the poverty they face.

Get involved in the Raise the Rates fight! Our website has details on next steps in the campaign.

Three big changes are being made starting April 1, 2011

    1. The amount of money people get will change. See page 3 for the new list and amounts:

  • For some medical conditions, the amount of money is going up. Some examples are: If you have hypertension, your allowance will go from $10 a month to $86. If you have diabetes, it will go from $42 a month to $81. For obesity, it goes from $20 to $51.
  • For other medical conditions, the amount of money is going down. For example, if you have a child between 2 and 8 years old with lactose intolerance, your allowance will go from $97 to $30. If you are over 19 and have celiac disease, it will go from $131 to $97.
  • Some medical conditions are grouped together because the diets used to treat them are very similar – for example, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. People with one of these conditions will get the amount for that condition. People with more than one of these conditions will not get the total of all the amounts, but only one amount – the highest of the amounts for the conditions they have. So, for example, if you have both diabetes and hypertension, you’ll get $86, which is the amount for hypertension. (Diabetes is $81.)

2. The list of medical conditions is changing:

  • Some new conditions are being added to the list, including congestive heart failure and cirrhosis, and other conditions are being expanded, such as chronic wounds and burns.

  • Some of the conditions on the current list are not on the new list. Some examples are soy allergy, anaemia, and liver failure. You will not be able to get special diet money for these conditions.
  • Some conditions that are not on the new list might be covered under a different condition. For example, the person with liver failure might qualify for the amount for cirrhosis, if they have weight loss or body wasting.

3. There will be new administrative rules.

  • Everyone currently receiving any special diet money on ODSP or welfare has to fill out a new application form.

  • Everyone has to give permission for program officials to get extra information about your medical condition. You will only have to give information about the medical condition that makes you eligible for Special Diet. For example, if you get Special Diet for diabetes but you also have depression, you won’t have to give permission for them to get information about your depression – only

What you should think about before you reapply

If you already get Special Diet, you should have received a letter from the government explaining the changes, as well as the new application form.

You do not have to submit the new application form right away. Some people will be better off waiting until the July 31 deadline. So before you get the new application form filled out by your health care provider (doctor, registered nurse – extended, nurse practitioner, registered dietitian), here are some things that you should think about:

  • If you cannot send in the new application form by July 31, you will LOOSE YOUR SPECIAL DIET ON YOUR AUGUST CHEQUE. This will be the case for many many people currently getting special diet money.

  • The new Special Diet program will be available as of April 1. This means that the new amounts of money based on the new list of conditions (see below) can start being paid then.
  • Between April 1 and July 31, you will continue to get your current Special Diet amount until you send in the new application form and the government finds you eligible under the new program.
  • As soon as you send in the new form and are found eligible, the amount of your allowance will be recalculated. The amount of money you will get will be based on the medical conditions your health care provider checks off on the form, using the new amounts (see list below).
  • If your new application results in more money and you get the form in before the July 31 deadline, you will get a retroactive payment for any increase back to April 1.
  • If your new application results in less money, the lower amount will start to be paid as of the month you sent in your new application form. But the Ministry will not go back to April 1 to take money back.
    You need to figure out whether you will get more money, less money, or no money under the new rules.

  • If you will get more money, you may want to send in the new application form right away so you can start getting the increased allowance as of April 1.
  • If you will get less money, you may want to wait – but remember, your new application form must be in by July 31.
  • If you are not sure whether you will get more or less money, you may want to wait to send in your application form until nearer the July 31 deadline. If it turns out that you are eligible for more money, you will get the increase retroactive to April 1 – but only if you apply before July 31.

What to do:

  • Take the new application form to your health care provider and talk to them about which medical conditions you can qualify for;

  • Use the chart on page 3 to figure out how much money you might be eligible for;
  • If you get only a very small amount of money from ODSP or OW because you have other income (e.g., CPP or earnings), you will need to figure out whether changes to your special diet allowance could affect your eligibility for ODSP/OW.
  • If you have a medical condition not listed on the special diet schedule you can appeal to the social benefits tribunal and win special diet money. Call OCAP or your local legal clinic for more information on this.

    How To Apply For The Special Diet:
    Ask your worker for the Special Diet Forms. Your worker must give you the forms, even if you have had it before or if your kids are young (as long as they are a year old or older) or if your worker says they are healthy. This is a mandatory benefit. If they won't give you your forms, in Toronto, call us, in the rest of Ontario, call your local legal clinic.

    Keep a copy of your filled out forms. This is really important in case you have problems with getting all or some of your money or in case your office loses them.

    New Special Diet Schedule:

    This is the old Special Diet Schedule. It will be completely eliminated on July 21, 2011.