What the Disability Advisory Committee Annual Report means to Canadians with diabetes

Disability Advisory Committee report Diabetes Advocacy

The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC)  was brought together to “provide advice to the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner of the Agency on the administration and interpretation of the laws and programs related to disability tax measures; ways in which the needs and expectations of the disability community can be better taken into consideration; current administrative practices and how to enhance the quality of services for persons with disabilities.”  In May of 2019, they released their first report.

The 107-page document was a very interesting read.  It had 42 recommendations in all.  For people living with insulin-dependent diabetes however, the most important issues to note were the following: 

Forms should be easier to access and to fill.

Many individuals, groups and physicians found the form T2201 confusing and difficult to fill out. Current wording left some doctors feeling that they were not qualified to fill out the forms. This left a rift between them and their patients that they felt should not exist.

The DAC recommended that the forms be much more streamlined and easy to use.  They also suggested that individuals should be able to apply for the disability tax credit online.  This change has been implemented by the Canada Revenue Agency this year.  You can now upload your application and supporting documents using your “My Account” access code.

More people should be aware of the credit.

awareness of the DTC Diabetes Advocacy

The Disability Advisory Committee felt that more individuals and their caregivers should be made aware of the disability tax credit.

They felt that a public awareness campaign on the credit and its eligibility criteria should be a high priority for Revenue Canada. They felt that physicians and individuals would benefit from videos and in-person sessions.

CRA staff should be uniformly trained.

Individuals, groups and doctors noted that it was very difficult to get assistance from Revenue Canada agents when they had questions.  If they did manage to get through to a person for help, the person was either no help or provided contrary advice to what was told to another taxpayer. It was felt that all agents should receive identical policy training and that a dedicated call center be created for questions related to the disability tax credit.

It was also felt that there should be a uniformity in the way applications were handled.  A more streamlined process would help both individual taxpayers and the staff involved in accessing applications.

Approval should be based on a diagnosis.

The DAC recommended that certain conditions should automatically be approved for the disability tax credit if they are using specific forms of life-sustaining therapy. 

It was felt that if a taxpayer was alive, they had to be successfully using life-sustaining therapy.  “These are therapies that are lifelong and continuous, requiring close medical supervision. Without them, the individual could not survive or would face serious life-threatening challenges… These therapies include but are not necessarily limited to: intensive insulin therapy for type 1 diabetes…”

The DTC should be a refundable tax credit.

access to financial assistance

Currently, the disability tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit. In a nutshell, this means that it reduces your taxable income.  If you are a low-income earner, this credit has very little financial value to you.  The DAC would like to see this credit turned into something that would offer greater benefit to those who have a lower income.

Registered Disability Savings Plan Access

The Disability Advisory Committee suggested that there should be another avenue of access for the Registered Disability Savings Plan. They felt that clawing back the RDSP when someone no longer qualified for the tax credit was inappropriate and punitive. Such a practice makes it impossible for many individuals and families to do solid financial planning.

While the Federal government has not yet created another way to access the RDSP, in their February 2019 budget they have announced they will no longer claw back money contributed if the DTC is lost.

Follow up letters should have more transparency.

Follow up letters are the bane of our existence. Some people get them. Some people don’t. If you get them, you tend to feel stress and pressure.

According to the report, in most cases, these letters are not even necessary.  The only thing it does is stall the process and make doctors feel that their credibility is being undermined.

To make things worse, the Canadian Revenue Agency does not always let individuals know that a follow-up letter has been sent to their doctor.  The DAC finds this unacceptable.

The committee feels that complete transparency on the part of CRA would “reduce the stress, time and cost involved in applying for the DTC. A more open and respectful process would also reduce the need to appeal CRA decisions regarding DTC eligibility.”

Easier access to appeal services and tax court.

disability tax credit

If a person is denied the disability tax credit, they often do not know that they can ask to have their application reviewed by another agent.  They don’t know that they can send in more supporting documents from their doctor before even starting a formal appeal

Many people who apply for the DTC are intimidated by the idea of taking on the federal government in court. They may lack the knowledge or the resources to take their case forward even if they would most likely win. The committee, therefore recommends that a straightforward, transparent and informed process should be created.

Applicants should have access to all relevant information (including the precise reason their application was denied) and documents (including copies of all information submitted by health providers that pertain to their application).

The Disability Advisory Committee feels that the CRA should create a document entitled “Your Rights When a Notice of Determination Denies a Claim for the DTC”.  It would explain the requirements, timelines and details for filing a review; a notice of objection with the Appeals Branch; and a notice of appeal with the Tax Court of Canada. It would further explain many more details required to launch a successful appeal.

What can we do with the Committee’s recommendations?

These recommendations echo much of what has been suggested by the Senate Review Committee.  The repetition of the same themes can only serve to strengthen our position…that the Disability Tax Credit should be fairly and equitably applied to all individuals with intensely monitored insulin-dependent diabetes.

Now that both groups have presented their reports, it is our job as advocates and people living with diabetes to share their message. We must ensure that our sitting Members of Parliament are aware of these recommendations and support them. 

It also falls on us to keep this issue relevant in the upcoming Federal Election. Make sure that those individuals seeking to be your next MP are also aware of the issues.  Help to educate them and share with them why these changes must be made by the Canada Revenue Agency.  Ask that the next Minister of Finance work to see these changes happen and allow people with insulin-dependent diabetes fair and equitable access to this credit.

What does this mean for Canadians with diabetes?

Currently, the findings in both reports remain suggestions.  Some suggestions like easier access to the DTC online, have been implemented by the Federal government but most have not. 

Until all of these recommendations are accepted by the Federal government and the Canadian Revenue Agency, access to the Disability Tax Credit remains the same. Unless you are under 18 years of age, you still must prove that you spend 14 hours per week on approved therapies.

Diabetes Advocacy has a short quiz that can help you to decide if you should apply for the tax credit based on your current insulin therapy regimen.  We also have a spreadsheet that can help you to track the time you spend on your diabetes care.

You can learn more about what is involved in applying for the Disability Tax Credit here or message us any time with your questions.

DAC May 2019 report infographic Diabetes Advocacy

Takeaways from the Senate Committee Report on DTC

This article was originally created for insulinpumps.ca and published on June 19, 2019

Some background

senate review

During the summer of 2017, many Canadian diabetes groups were made aware of an increased number of rejected applications for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) by people living with diabetes. A public letter was sent to both the media and finance department asking why the Canada Revenue Agency seemed to be implementing a policy change when there had been no change in legislation.

By December of 2017, the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology convened to discuss this issue. They met with various groups in February of 2018.

What the committee was told

The committee heard from a variety of groups and individuals including key players from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and Diabetes Canada. They were told that both the DTC and the (Registered Disability Savings Plan)RDSP are underutilized despite the potential to offer great assistance to qualifying individuals. The current DTC is only of financial benefit to those who have an income because it is a non-refundable tax credit. Individuals with little or no income are not applying and therefore are not eligible for any further assistance in the form of grants available from the RDSP.

They were told that currently the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) employees are being given the power to overrule the certification of a medical doctor. This suggests that the employees somehow have greater knowledge of a person’s medical condition and restrictions than that of a physician.

JDRF and Diabetes Canada also requested that the 14 hour minimum for life sustaining therapy be removed. They noted that similar health burdens and financial challenges occur for all people with type one diabetes regardless of the time spent. They all require the same activity restrictions and higher costs associated with administering insulin regardless of whether it takes 10 hours or 14 hours per week.

It was further noted that “these rules can often mean that young adults cease to qualify for the DTC when they turn 18 simply because their parent’s time is no longer included in the amount of time spent administering a therapy. In reality the only thing that has changed is that the person has turned 18. “

Finally, the committee was advised that people with life-long conditions, like diabetes, are being forced to reapply for the disability tax credit. This is a waste of time and resources.

The Recommendations:

On June 27th, 2018 the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released its recommendation on the Disability Tax Credit and the Registered Disability Savings Program. These are the ones that apply to people living with diabetes.

  • implement legislation that would limit the fees disability services providers can charge to complete the Disability Tax Credit application (this has been tabled but not brought into force yet)
  • Re-examine the arbitrary 14 hours required for life sustaining therapy
  • Eliminate the need to reapply for life long conditions
  • Improved transparency for those who have to appeal their DTC denial
  • Allow people to keep all contributions made to their Registered Disability Savings Plans for periods in which they qualified for the Disability Tax Credit.
  • Work with all levels of government to ensure that all people with qualifying disabilities over the age of 18 can access the Registered Disability Savings Plan program.
  • Change the 10 year wait to access RDSP funds and grants
  • Make this a refundable credit so that it also helps those with lower or no incomes
Senate committee recommendations

Everything you need to know about RDSPs

RDSP

If you have successfully applied for the Disability Tax Credit, the savings do not end with your tax return. You are also eligible for FREE money from the government! I know that sounds too good to be true! That is why I asked Jane Buchanan, District Leader, Representative of Primerica Financial Services, to explain exactly how easy it is to get FREE money with a Registered Disability Savings Plan!

What is the Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)?

People with disabilities and their loved ones face a distinct set of financial challenges throughout their lives. To help address these challenges, the Government of Canada introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) in 2008. Designed to help build long-term financial security for disabled persons, the RDSP makes it easier to accumulate funds by providing assisted savings and tax-deferred investment growth.

 Who is eligible for an RDSP?

To qualify for an RDSP a beneficiary must:• Be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit

• Be a resident of Canada

• Be less than 60 years of age

• Have a valid Social Insurance Number

The Disability Tax Credit is available to individuals who have mental or physical impairments that markedly restrict their ability to perform one or more of the basic activities of living, such as speaking, hearing or walking. The credit is also available to those who spend more than 14 hours per week on life-sustaining therapy.

The impairment must be expected to last longer than one year, and a physician must certify the extent of the disability. There can only be one RDSP account per beneficiary, and only one beneficiary per plan.

Click here to see if you might qualify.

What are the key benefits of an RDSP?

RDSP
  • Money contributed grows tax free.
  • Anyone can contribute to an RDSP with the written consent of the account holder.
  • Contributions can be matched, based on family income, with up to $3,500 a year in Canada Disability Savings Grants (CDSG) and up to $1,000 a year in Canada Disability Savings Bonds (CDSB).
  • Carry forward on CDSG and CDSB is available back 10 years or to date of diagnosis.
  • The total lifetime contribution for each beneficiary is $200,000, with no annual contribution limits.
  • If a parent or grandparent passes away and has a financially dependent child or grandchild, they can transfer up to $200,000 of their RRSP/RRIF or RPP to the dependent’s RDSP on a tax-deferred basis.

Who can qualify to be the beneficiary of an RDSP?

To qualify to be the beneficiary of an RDSP, an individual must:

  • Be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit
  • Be a resident of Canada
  • Be less than 60 years of age
  • Have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

How do you maximize your savings?

  • Start saving early. Make it automatic by enrolling in a pre-authorized chequing program.
  • Take advantage of government grants and bonds and contribute every year to get the maximum annual Canada Disability Savings Grant and Canada Disability Savings Bond.
  • Plan withdrawals to avoid federal grant and bond repayments.

What is the Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) and the Canada Disability Savings Bond (CDSB)?

The Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) and the Canada Disability Savings Bond (CDSB) are federal programs that provide payments to RDSPs to encourage long-term savings through an RDSP.

Grants and bonds are available to beneficiaries up until December 31st in the year they reach age 49. Contributions can be matched, based on family income, with up to $70,000 in Canada Disability Savings Grants and up to $20,000 in Canada Disability Savings Bonds.

RDSP with drawls are also known as disability assistance payments. There are two types of payments from an RDSP lifetime disability assistance payments and disability assistance payments.

How do you contribute to an RDSP?

 Once a Registered Disability Savings Plan is set up there are five ways to put money in:

  1. contributions by the account holder.
  2. contributions by people the account holder has authorized.
  3. federal grants and bonds.
  4. transfers from a qualified or RRSP, RRIF or RPP.
  5. transfers of the accumulated income from a registered education savings plan on which the beneficiary is on both RESP and RDSP.

How do to get money out of an RDSP?

RDSP withdrawls are known as disability assistance payments. There are two types of payments from a RDSP. 

Lifetime disability assistance payments are recurring annual payments that one started must be paid until the plan is terminated where the beneficiary has died. These may begin at any age that must start by the end of the year in which the beneficiary turns 60. 

The other type of payments are disability assistance payments which are lump sum payments made to the beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate.

When withdrawing funds from a Registered Disability Savings Plan, it is important to be aware of the 10-year rule. If a person withdraws amounts that were contributed in the ten-year period prior, grants and the bonds from the government must be repaid to them. The repayment is three dollars for every one dollar withdrawn (aka the Holdback amount).

The purpose of the holdback amount is to ensure that RDSPs are used for long-term savings, and it also ensures the government funds contributed are not withdrawn and used otherwise.

Have more questions?

Contact Jane Buchanan, District Leader, Representative of Primerica Financial Services Call: (506) 863-4425 Email: [email protected]

To see if you might qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, try our short quiz. If you have been putting off filling out your application form, get our easy to follow step-by-step guidebook.

Tax Tips for People with Diabetes

Tax tips for people with diabetes

If you are like me, you aren’t overly excited by tax time. The thought of paying in more money is so depressing that you are probably digging through every receipt trying to figure out how you can write off that last Ice-cap from Tim Hortons as a diabetes-related expense. Here are a few tax tips that you may have overlooked.

Diabetes supplies

Keep all of the receipts for your diabetes supplies such as:

  • insulin
  • syringes
  • test strips
  • ketone strips
  • alcohol wipes
  • medical tape
  • Glucagon kit
  • pump supplies including the insulin pump, tape, infusion sets, reservoirs, batteries, and mastisol 
  • Continuous Glucose Monitor, transmitters, and batteries

If you have paid out of pocket for these items or a co-pay after insurance, make sure that you have a prescription for them.

Travel

You can claim the cost of travel to medical appointments.

In Canada you must travel at least 40 km one way to get to your appointment. Make sure that you have a signed letter from the office before you leave stating that you have been there. You will then be able to deduct the cost of public transportation or vehicle expenses.

If you must travel over 80 km one way, you will also be able to claim the cost of meals. You are allowed up to $17 per meal up to a maximum of $51 per day. You can learn more here.

Finally, you can also claim your accommodations and parking fees for travel over 80km. Again, make sure that you have a letter stating that you have traveled for medical appointments.

In the US, you can deduct 23 cents per mile in lieu of gas and oil, plus any parking fees and tolls for travel to medical appointments. If you take a taxi, bus, train, airplane or ambulance you can deduct the actual expense. You can deduct the cost of any accomodations, but unlike Canada, you cannot deduct the cost of meals.

In the US, these expenses must exceed 7.5% of your gross annual income. The amount will rise to 10% in the 2019 tax year. For those living in Canada, medical expenses must be above the lesser of $2,208 or 3 percent of your net income.

HSA/FSA

If you live in the USA, you can also save by contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

These accounts are managed by financial institutions and accessed in the same way as you access your chequing account.

Both a Health Savings Account and a Flexible Spending Account are made up of tax-deductible contributions with pre-set contribution limits. Contributions can be set up through your employer. Both accounts also share the same list of “qualified expenses”.

The difference, however, is in who is eligible. Anyone can contribute to an FSA but only those with a high deductible ($1,350 or more for an individual or $2,700 or more for a family in 2018) health plan are eligible for the Health Savings Accounts. 

The maximum contribution to an HSA is $3,450 for an individual and $6,900 for families.  The maximum contribution into an FSA is $2,650. (at the time of this writing)

Disability Tax Credit

In Canada, we do not have Health Savings Accounts. We do however have a Registered Disability Savings Plan. To access this plan and the associated government grants, you must first apply for and be approved for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

The DTC is a non-refundable tax credit that reduces your taxable income. To qualify, you must be insulin-dependent and spend over 14 hours per week on your care.

See if you might qualify for the DTC here.

To make sure that you have all of the receipts you need, download our checklist before you start your tax return this year!

An Overview of BC’s New Insulin Pump Program

BC insulin pump program expands

The internet has been abuzz. The provincial government of BC lived up to an election promise by removing the cap on its insulin pump program. There was celebrating in the streets…until the fine print of the new program was read.

You see, this program will be unlike any other program in the country.  It will be a two-tiered program that seems to favour one insulin pump company over the others.

The issue is complex and very emotionally charged. Let’s take a closer look and you can decide for yourself if this is a step in the right direction or a step on a new and slippery path.

No more age cap

This is big news.  Adults no longer have to pay for their insulin pump out of pocket if they don’t have private insurance.  One pumper I spoke with as spent almost $20,000 to purchase insulin pumps over the past 15 years.  That is a lot for an individual to come up with every 5 years.  It is not surprising that she sees this as a welcome relief!

A two-tiered program

This is the news that has some people scratching their heads and wondering if this is such a good program after all.

All residents with diabetes will be eligible for an Omnipod insulin pump and supplies under tier one.  There will be no deductible for this system.

If you do not want this insulin pump system and feel that a Medtronic insulin pump would be better suited for your needs, you will have to convince your doctor of this as well.  Under tier two, a portion of your insulin pump and supplies will be covered if your physician prescribes a tubed (Medtronic) insulin pump.  If you simply want to own a tubed pump but your doctor does not deem it medically necessary, you will have to pay all costs out of pocket.

You can read all of the details on the BC government website here.

A pump is better than no pump

There is a school of thought that any pump is better than no pump and I agree with that.  If you want to use an insulin pump, then this is a fabulous option if you have no coverage. You can also work with your doctor to attempt to get some relief on a tubed insulin pump if that is your preference.

It’s a win for the little guy

Some people are claiming that this is a huge coup for the little guy.  The small insulin pump company Insulet is the preferred insulin pump for the province of BC.  That is rather significant I will agree.

It’s a start

One thing that I always tell people who ask me for tips on advocacy is to think of their “ask” as a cookie.  Every piece of the cookie that you get is a step forward.  Often you don’t get the entire “ask” (cookie) at one go so you keep asking.  You keep enjoying each bite, knowing that you are working towards having that entire cookie.

Conclusion

For residents of BC, this is another step towards the ultimate cookie. There were pumps for kids. There were pumps for adults up to age 25 and now there are Omnipods for anyone who wants them and assistance on tier two, tubed pumps.  It another step towards the goal of coverage for everyone regardless of age who wishes to use a sensor-augmented insulin pump.

Congratulations BC residents on your new insulin pump program!

If you are considering an insulin pump, check out our eBooklet to ensure that you get the right pump for your personal needs.

Disability Tax Credit…What now?

Disability Tax Credit next steps for people with diabetes

Last week, CRA decided to reverse its policy on adults living with Type 1 diabetes and the Disability Tax Credit. This probably has many people wondering..what now?? Here are a few next steps for adults living with type 1.

If you were rejected after May of 201 you haven’t applied yet but want to

For those who haven’t yet filled out an application, you can now do so with some confidence in approval. If you live with type 1 diabetes and are intensively managing your diabetes, then you could qualify. 

Take the Disability Tax Credit Quiz here.

As per before May 2017, you will have to show the time you spent.  That time will have to be more than 14 hours per week.  It cannot include time spent on exercise, carb counting or recovering from a low.

See how much time you do spend on allowable tasks using our workbook.

Follow the Disability Advisory’s Committee’s actions and calls for action.

The Disability Advisory Committee is made up of professionals and advocates.  They will be working to see the DTC fairly applied to all qualifying individuals.

If you are interested in seeing the credit properly reflect the needs of Canadians and more specifically, Canadians with type 1 diabetes, I would suggest that you follow the activities of this committee. They will be looking for submissions and information from Canadians.  Send in your letters and continue to help them inform Ottawa of why people with diabetes who intensively manage their diabetes qualify for this credit.

Read the Senate Committee’s Recommedations here.

Keep the pressure on your MPs.

Make sure that your MP understands that the Liberal government’s recent actions surrounding the Disability Tax Credit are not acceptable.  Let them know that we do not appreciate being lied to.  Ensure that they understand what is involved in diabetes care on a daily basis.  Work to educate them on how people with type 1 diabetes spend over 14 hours on life sustaining therapy.

If you have any more questions or would like someone to review your application before submitting it to CRA for approval, I am always just an email away!

If you are unsure how to fill out your Disability Tax Credit application, our eBook will guide you through the process.

The DTC…We have come a long way. We will win the war!

we will win dtc warThe past few weeks have been incredibly busy and I have never been more proud! I have been battling the Federal government over the Disability Tax Credit since the early 2000s.  There have been victories and most recently there have been setbacks but we have come a long way!!

Let me give you a bit of history.

Back in 2002 or so, a lady named Shelley Tyler took the Canada Revenue Agency to court and won.  She believed that her son was eligible for the Disability Tax Credit because they took an inordinate amount of time to feed him and keep him alive.  Her son had type 1 diabetes.

Mrs. Tyler was kind and shared her experience with others.  I used some of her work in preparing my own application.  Others did as well.

More and more families were applying for the Disability Tax Credit.  They were still being turned down, but even more where refusing to take no for an answer.  They were taking their cases to Tax Court–and winning!

Families like the Chafes were winning the argument that insulin therapy was administered 24 hours a day when using an insulin pump.  This led to a year of qualification for all pumpers.

(The irony of recent comments that the increased use of insulin pump therapy is why applications have been denied is not lost on me. )

Changes were happening.  The diabetes community was roaring.  We were a grassroots group.  The Canadian Diabetes Association was only in the infancy of creating a dedicated Advocacy Office and JDRF was focused on funding research. That was okay because the diabetes community was powerful in its own right.

Together we rallied. We worked on court cases.  Friends and family members contacted their MPs and demanded fairness. The diabetes community was represented at the Federal review of DTC fairness.

The result was legislative change.  Children with diabetes were now given the tax credit based on a certified diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.  Adults were also allowed the credit but their means test was a bit more strict.

Recently there seems to have been a change in how disability tax credit applications are handled for people with diabetes.  We have discussed it before.  One thing hasn’t changed however and that is the power of the diabetes community.

Thanks in part to the power of social media,  the community voice is louder than ever and I couldn’t be more proud!

Diabetes Canada is sending well-spoken, knowledgeable individuals to meet with CRA and voice our concerns.  JDRF has been delving into the issue for months as well.  Together they are creating a powerful voice.  Behind the scenes, there are many more grassroots groups working together.  Everyone is pushing the same  message.  “Diabetes is a 24/7 job.  People living with insulin dependent diabetes take more than 14 hours per week to perform life-sustaining therapy.”

The message is getting out there.  This issue was all over the media.  My Twitter feed has been blown up with articles and Tweets.  I am proud! The diabetes community is coming together.

Some members have voiced their frustration. This should have been finished years ago.  People living with diabetes have enough to deal with.  Fighting their government for a credit that they obviously qualify should not be another stressor. They are right of course.  I totally understand their get their pain.

I have been in this battle since the beginning.  It’s been a long one but please don’t lose hope! This is not a war that is lost.  It is a battle that will see victory.

The diabetes community is a powerful voice.  Canadians with diabetes are coming together in record numbers.  We are using that voice to let CRA and the Minister of Finance know that we are not prepared to back down.

Now is the time to keep the momentum going.  Write your letters to your MPs. Answer the call when one of the diabetes organizations calls looking for your story.  Our voice is strong.  We have come a long way and together we will finally win the war.

How to Fight for the Disability Tax Credit with Type 1 Diabetes

How to fight for the DTC with T1D

Diabetes Canada recently released a statement claiming that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) is now declining 80% of applications for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) submitted by people living with type 1 diabetes.  I cannot confirm or deny these figures. I can state that I am seeing a significant increase in the number of people contacting. They are reaching out because they or their clients have been declined for the DTC.

What is going on with the DTC?

No one seems to know.  CRA claims that there has been no change in policy.  Public concern seems to suggest otherwise.

For years, people with diabetes have often received a follow-up letter when they have made their application asking for more details from their doctor.  In the past, that letter was filled out in a similar manner to the initial application and the claim was approved.  This seems to be happening with less frequency now.

People living with diabetes are often receiving a letter stating that “an adult who independently manages insulin therapy on a regular basis generally does not meet the 14 hours per week requirement unless there are exceptional circumstances.”.  In some cases, this is followed by a request for more information but in other cases, it is part of the denial for their claim.

Does this mean that I should not apply?

No.  People living with diabetes usually spend over 14 hours per week to intensively manage their diabetes.  Granted this does not include all people living with diabetes but does include a large majority.

You should continue to send in your detailed applications. Make sure that you are adding tasks that are approved and that your total is over 14 hours.

Get our Disability Tax Credit workbook to ensure you are spending over 14 hours per week on approved tasks. 

What happens after I apply for the DTC?

Once you and your doctor have completed your forms and returned your application, there will be some time before you hear back from CRA.

Odds are high that your doctor will be contacted and asked for more information.  Again, make sure that the follow-up letter is detailed. Take care to clearly show that you spend over 14 hours per week on your diabetes care.

What if I am rejected?

If you are turned down for the Disability Tax Credit, you have a few options.

First, you can ask that your file be reassessed by another officer.  Sometimes fresh eyes will give a fresh perspective and the ruling can be changed.

Second, you can formally appeal their decision within the first 90 days of your rejection letter.  This is a detailed process but does not necessarily require a lawyer.  If you choose to go this route (and I would encourage everyone to do so), be sure to keep careful and detailed records. You must also contact CRA for a copy of your file under the Access to Information Act to better understand what you are fighting against.

Read more tips on appealing the DTC here.

Write your Member of Parliament

Finally, at any stage of the process, I would encourage you to ask for the assistance of your MP.  Whether you are thinking of applying, have applied or have been rejected, it is important for Members of Parliament to be aware of this situation.  Diabetes Canada has written a great template for people to send to their MP.  Download the letter. Be sure to personalize it to your situation and forward it on.  Remember that letters sent to a Member of Parliament in Ottawa do not require postage.

The more MPs that contact the Finance Department and ask them what is going on, the stronger the case for change and fairness.

Together we were able to get access to this credit for some people living with diabetes over 10 years ago.  Working together again, we will create change for even more individuals!

Take our short quiz to see if you might qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.

The Disability Tax Credit for Adults…What you need to know

Disability Tax Credit tips

The Disability Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit available to Canadians who meet very strict criteria set out by the Canadian Revenue Agency.

One of the criteria is that you must take over 14 hours per week to perform life-sustaining therapy. This is the section that many people living with diabetes qualify under.  Before you apply there are a few things that you need to know.

Having diabetes doesn’t mean that you qualify.

Not everyone with diabetes will qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).  The criteria states that children with Type 1 diabetes do qualify based on diagnosis alone. Adults (anyone over 18 years of age) however, must show that they spend over 14 hours per week on their care.

Take our quick quiz to see if you might qualify.

Why do children get the DTC so easily?

toddler from Diabetes Advocacy

The reason that children qualify for the Disability Tax Credit is because CRA feels that the time that they spend on their care AND the time that their parents spend on their care, together is equal to more than 14 hours per week.  Adults do not require the help of others for the most part. They, therefore, must prove that they, themselves spend over 14 hours per week on therapy to keeping themselves alive.

Get our workbook to see if you spend over 14 hours per week on eligible tasks. 

Do I really spend 14 hours per week keeping myself alive?

That is a question that only you can answer.  I will say that if you are intensively managing your diabetes, then more than likely, you do take an inordinate amount of time out of your day to manage your diabetes care.

A person who is not reliant on an external source of insulin to live does not have to be concerned about blood glucose readings, anticipated activity levels, impending illness,  or fat contents of meals when planning their day to day activities.  The average person does not have to draw up a syringe, put in an infusion set or calibrate a continuous glucose monitoring sensor.  A person without diabetes does not have to keep track of their insulin requirements, blood glucose levels or activity levels in a journal.

These tasks are commonplace for a person with diabetes. They are also all tasks that are recognized by CRA and count towards the 14 hour total required to be certified for the Disability Tax Credit as requiring life-sustaining therapy.

I hear that adults no longer qualify so why should I try?

diabetes is hard Diabetes Advocacy

Some adults are experiencing a harder time getting the tax credit.  There can be many reasons for your application being denied.  You may be including tasks that are not recognized by CRA as being an allowable part of therapy.  Things like grocery shopping, doctors appointments and trips to the pharmacy are not allowed to be included in your total.

Another reason that adults are being turned down is that they are not providing enough details on their own specific care.   Use the information found online and in groups as a guideline. You should then fill out the T2201 application in your own words with your own specific care details.  

Final thoughts

final thoughts from Diabetes Advocacy

Make your application your own.  Spend one week detailing what you do each day.  It will take you time to stop and write everything down but it will be worth it.  Time each task.  Note how often you perform it. If you have trouble deciding what to document, our workbook or spreadsheet might help you.

Take this week’s worth of information and then compare it to your online resources.  Eliminate the tasks that CRA won’t approve.  Add in the tasks that you did but forgot to add in your personal list.  Now total your time spent.  

Most likely, you will find that you spend more than 14 hours per week on your care.  This data can also be shared with your doctor at your appointment. It will help he/she understand who much time you do put into your care.  This will further be of use if he/she if they receive a follow-up letter from CRA asking for more details on your care.

Adults with insulin dependent diabetes who test regularly (6+ times per week), who inject insulin multiple times per day through injections or an insulin pump, and make their own adjustments to their insulin regimen should apply for the Disability Tax Credit.  If you are turned down, you have the right to ask for your application to be approved by another CRA staff member. Sometimes the second review still does not turn out in your favour but don’t despair. At that point,  you have the right to see all correspondence used in your file and begin a formal appeal process.

If you are unsure of how to fill in your application or you just want someone to review your totals, I can assist you. Email me , check out the Disability Tax Credit page or check out our helpful downloads for more information.

RDSP–What was the catch?

Years ago, when the RDSP first came out I was skeptical.  Free money even from the government sounded too good to be true.  Friends encouraged me to open an account for my son. They emphasized, “the government is going to give YOU money for just putting in a few dollars!”   I still continued to wonder “What was the catch?”

For those who don’t know, an RDSP or  Registered Disability Savings Plan is long term savings plan created by the Canadian government. There can only be  one plan per person.  That person must have an approved Disability Tax Credit application on file with the Canadian Revenue Agency .  Unlike an RRSP, with the RDSP  the government will provide grant money to the investor that can then be invested and earn its own income.

When I first opened the plan for my son, my understanding was that the government portion (the grant money) had to stay in the account for a period of 10 years before it could be withdrawn.  In my mind, this meant that the money that I put in when he was 15 coupled with the grant money would cover a new insulin pump for my son when he turned 25.  I was wrong.

An RDSP is meant for long term savings for an individual who has serious health issues.  You can take the money that you put in out at any point.  When you make that withdrawal however, the government portion must also be returned.

In my case, I didn’t want to take the money out right away, I wanted to leave it for 10 years.  There is however another catch.  According to rdsp.com, “Disability Assistance Payments (DAP) can be made from an RDSP at any time, but grants and bonds may need to be repaid if they have not been in the plan for at least 10 years.” This meant that no one could contribute to my son’s RDSP for a period of 10 years prior to taking any funds out if we did not want to be penalized.  There could be no grant money for that 10 year period or the amount that I contributed had to be more than the government’s grant portion. That was not what I had been aiming for.

“Payments in the early years of a plan are limited by the assistance holdback rule. Since all grants and bonds received in the previous 10 years must be repaid once a disability assistance payment is received, the plan must hold back an amount equal to that amount in case a benefit repayment must be made. In some cases, that can prevent any disability payment at all.” states RDSP.com

What does this mean? 

RDSP are not the short term savings vehicle that some of us had hoped for.  They are a long term savings for those who cannot afford to save for their own long term medical expenses.

They still offer “free” money unlike any other plan but like other retirement plans, require the owner to be in his/her senior years before needing the funds.

It has been suggested that for parents contributing for their children, they should look at it as a safety net in case something happens to the parent.  If parents were to pass early, it would give the child a bit of extra help in their care.

For me, it is an individual choice that should be made with the help of both your accountant and financial advisor. I think that you have to have a clear idea of when and how the funds are to be used.  At that point, you can better decide which of the current savings options are best for your family and your situation.

rdsp blog