What We Do


The Social Benefits Tribunal (SBT) hears appeals from people who disagree with a decision that affects the amount of, or their eligibility for, social assistance under the Ontario Works Act or the Ontario Disability Support Program Act. SBT is independent from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the province’s social assistance offices and municipal Ontario Works offices.

SBT decisions are made by adjudicators called vice-chairs or members. SBT adjudicators have experience, knowledge and training in social assistance law and issues. SBT hearings are held throughout the province. They are more informal than a court hearing. They are often completed in under an hour but some take longer.

The SBT is one of the seven tribunals which form Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO). SBT does its work in keeping with the core values of SJTO:

  • Accessibility
  • Fairness and independence
  • Timeliness
  • Transparency
  • Professionalism and public service

The SBT’s Rules of Procedure and Practice Directions apply to its proceedings.

When should I appeal to the SBT

You can appeal to the SBT when you have been refused social assistance or when your social assistance has been cancelled, reduced or put on hold, or an overpayment has been assessed. But before you appeal you must request an internal review of that decision from the office that made the decision. For information about how to appeal, see the Appeal and Hearing Process.

Issues that can be appealed to the SBT

Most appeals to the SBT are about:

  • Whether you are a person with a disability
  • Disputing an overpayment
  • Refusal or denial of a benefit or assistance
  • Cancellation of a benefit or assistance
  • Reduction of assistance
  • Change in the status of your file

Some decisions cannot be appealed to the SBT. These include:

  • Decisions about discretionary benefits
  • Decisions not to extend the time for internal review
  • Decisions about paying a portion of basic financial assistance directly to a third party
  • Decisions about employment supports.

If you receive a decision about your eligibility for social assistance that you disagree with and you are unsure if you can appeal, you might want to contact your community legal clinic.