On the Radar from CLEO
CLEO On The Radar
May 2023
Weighing the benefits of MyBenefits
MyBenefits is an online service for people getting Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
People can use MyBenefits to:
  • send messages to their caseworker
  • report their monthly income
  • report changes to their address or phone number
  • check the status of each benefit payment and what it includes
  • look at their Notice of Decision letters
When someone gets a MyBenefits account, they stop getting paper copies of their documents.
While MyBenefits can be useful, it’s not the best choice for everyone.
People have a choice
The Ontario government is pushing for people on income assistance to use more online tools and services. This "digital first" approach can make people feel pressured to get a MyBenefits account. But getting a MyBenefits account is not required.
People can still choose how they want to report and communicate with OW or ODSP. They can use regular mail, email, fax, or phone. They can also speak to someone in person at their local OW or ODSP office.
These may be better options for people who:
  • have limited access to computers
  • are not comfortable using technology
  • speak a language other than English or French
If someone is being pressured by their caseworker to use MyBenefits, they can:
If someone tries using MyBenefits and decides it’s not for them, they can stop. They also have the option to keep MyBenefits but get paper copies of their documents.
People may still get things like overpayment notices through MyBenefits after their benefits stop and their file is closed. So they should continue to check their account to make sure they do not miss anything.
Declaring time in Ontario
MyBenefits users now have an extra piece of information that they must declare that people without a MyBenefits account do not.
They need to declare whether or not they or a member of their household has been outside Ontario for more than:
  • 30 days if they’re on ODSP
  • 7 days if they’re on OW
They must do this every month. When they sign into MyBenefits, a declaration checkbox will pop up asking them to confirm their time in Ontario.
If they do not make this declaration, their benefits should not stop. But their file may get flagged for a caseworker to follow up on.
If the caseworker cannot reach the person, they may put the person’s file on hold. This means that the person may not get their benefits for a period of time.
New email reminders
On April 1, 2023, the MyBenefits system started sending email reminders to users who miss making any of their declarations.
These emails are sent in the first week of the month after the person missed the deadline for the declaration. People make their declarations for one month in the following month. So they’ll get a reminder the first week of July if they missed reporting in June about what happened in May.
Saving important documents
MyBenefits is useful because all income assistance documents and messages are in one place. But people cannot access these things through MyBenefits forever.
MyBenefits stores messages sent from clients to caseworkers for only one year before deleting them. But if a caseworker thinks a message is important, they’ll copy it into the person’s file in the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS).
Documents sent through MyBenefits are saved on SAMS. But some documents are deleted from there after 90 days. This includes documents that a caseworker:
  • just needs to see and note that they’ve seen, such as a letter from a landlord listing a person’s rent or a bank statement showing their assets
  • did not ask for and does not think are useful to keep
MyBenefits users will not know whether messages or extra documents are saved or deleted. So they should save their own copies.
Notice of Decision letters
Notice of Decision letters appear on MyBenefits for only one year. MyBenefits users should also save these somewhere safe.
Notice of Decision letters are kept on SAMS for longer. But the person has to make a Freedom of Information Request to get them. After someone stops getting benefits, OW keeps files for 5 years or more and ODSP keeps them for at least 10 years.
Steps to Justice logo
Related resources
MyBenefits Help
Government of Ontario
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