Can I get the DTC if I am an adult insulin pumper?

insulin pumps and the DTC

For a number of months, there has been concern about a video posted on the CRA website.  It suggested that using an insulin pump did not allow a person to be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.

Many people have written letters to their MP as well as CRA.  Diabetes Canada has also made the issue of easier qualifications for adults with Type 1 diabetes a priority for the upcoming federal election.  What does this really mean to people living with diabetes, however?  Do they no longer qualify for the DTC if they are using an insulin pump?

A member of insulinpumps.ca staff received the following response from CRA….

In receiving a qualifying therapy, the person must dedicate time to the process. This means taking time away from his or her normal everyday activities to receive the therapy. For portable devices, such as an insulin pump or implanted devices like a pacemaker, the time the device takes to deliver the therapy does not count toward the 14‑hour requirement. Activities like following dietary restriction, exercising, travelling to receive therapy, attending medical appointments, shopping for medication, or recuperating after therapy also do not count toward the 14-hour requirement.

Early on in the fight for fairness regarding the Disability Tax Credit, people living with type 1 diabetes, successfully argued that a person using an insulin pump was actually injecting insulin 24/7.  This meant that they easily spent more than 14 hours per week on life-sustaining therapy.

It is not surprising that CRA quickly made an amendment to their policy. They no longer consider the time a machine/device requires to deliver therapy as part of the 14 hour therapy total.

This does not mean that people who use insulin pumps no longer qualify for the DTC. It means that the time the pump spends delivering insulin does not count towards time spent on therapy. The amount of time dedicated to diabetes-related tasks such as bg testing, ketone monitoring, logging, making dosing adjustments, as well as site changes and pump maintenance is still used in the 14 hour calculation of therapy.  The video posted online and the CRA website, unfortunately does not clarify this.  That can be problematic.

Doctors who rely on the CRA website to guide them on what is considered therapy when dealing with Type 1 diabetes may be led to think that insulin pumpers in general do not qualify for the DTC.  Even those living with Type 1 diabetes may wrongly think that they no longer meet the qualifications.

Here are a few key points to remember…

  • Being an adult with Type 1 diabetes does not automatically qualify someone for the the DTC.  Being a child under 18 with Type 1 diabetes does.
  • Using an insulin pump does not automatically qualify you for the DTC–neither does using multiple daily injection therapy.

The key to qualification is to intensively manage your diabetes care. This means that you spend over 14 hours per week on such things as testing your bg levels, monitoring for ketones, changing infusion sites, injecting insulin, logging daily diabetes related activities, and other diabetes related tasks that a person without diabetes does not have to do to maintain life.  Tasks such as carb counting does not count towards therapy nor does the amount time spent recovering from a low blood glucose level but many other tasks do and can quickly add up to spending over 14 hours per week on life sustaining therapy. fairness report

DTC Happy Dance!

Happy dance Yesterday I did something I haven’t had to do in close to ten years…I filled out my son’s Disability Tax Credit form.

For those who are not in Canada, and those in Canada who just don’t know, the Disability Tax Credit(DTC) is a credit that people with diabetes who are insulin dependent can use on their taxes to reduce their taxable income. People who receive the DTC are also eligible for the Registered Disability Savings Plan and children who receive the credit may receive a Disabled Child Benefit through the Child Tax Credit.

Click here to see if you might qualify for the DTC

The DTC, for people with diabetes, is not given because the government views diabetes as a disability.  It is given because people who are insulin dependent require insulin to live–they require Life-Sustaining Therapy. Life-sustaining therapy is a subcategory of the DTC.

Years ago, I embarked on a lengthy journey to see this tax credit be given to people with diabetes.  At that time some people got it, some didn’t.  It simply seemed to depend on your stamina and the whim of  the CRA agent processing your application.  You can read my real-time frustrations here but to make a long story short, after a lengthy time frame, the legislation was amended and people with diabetes were given more fair and equal treatment.

While some friends were given the credit for a lifetime, my son wasn’t. I
knew it was personal.

I wasn’t paranoid honest! I would go to events and see the CRA booth set up. As I walked by and they saw my name, they would instantly recognize me.  I was sure that having agents of the Canadian Revenue Agency recognize your name was not a good thing.

Visions of audits and extended periods of time spent on my returns haunted my nights. With this in mind, imagine my anxiety at having to complete a new application for my son?

I had been advised that my son’s DTC status would change on January 1, 2013 unless my credit was submitted earlier.  We had a diabetes clinic appointment the next week and the doctor had told me to bring along the form for her to sign.  I was still nervous.

Would they still recognize the name? My last name had changed. I have gone back to my maiden name.  Would they still make a connection with my son and his last name? Would I have to fight to prove that yes, we really and honestly do intensively manage his diabetes care?

We really do use up well over 14 hours per week in diabetes-related junk. I had won this battle once.  Thousands have since had their applications approved.

The tax agency couldn’t hold a grudge forever could they? My mind was cynical but confident. Others get the credit. I help others, including adults, get the credit.  My application would not be denied….then I received an email from a friend.  “FYI…in case you didn’t know…” and she proceeded to send me a memo that noted CRA has changed its guidelines.  All children under the age of 18 who have diabetes and have applied for the DTC will now be approved without further question.

Happy dancin!! Happy dancin!!! This was AWESOME!


My DTC application is ready to go. My heart is light and ideally, CRA will process things in a timely manner and my son’s DTC status will not change in January even for a short period of time. Did I mention…HAPPY DANCE!!!!

Disability Tax Credit 101

Disability Tax Credit Basics Its that time of the year again.  The time when the tax man comes to call and we scurry to find any way to hang onto our hard earned dollars that we can. This is also the time of year when I find myself inundated with many questions regarding the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

I am not an accountant. I am not a lawyer. I am a mother who has been dealing with this issue since the beginning of time (or at least early 2000).  Back then, the DTC was given to some people with diabetes and denied to others. Eventually, it was given to those using insulin pumps but not those on injections. Finally after a long battle, a lot of letters and presentations, this ruling was changed and the discrimination faced by people living with diabetes was removed. (only to resurface in 2018)

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is given to people who are unable to perform the “basic acts of daily living” OR who require life-sustaining therapy. While the argument has been made that people with diabetes are not able to perform the basic acts of daily living, the real case has been made that they require life-sustaining therapy.  If they do not take insulin they die. It’s very simple.

So what is the tax credit and why do you want it? Well, it gets you money back on your taxes! Again, I am not an accountant but I think of it as my own extra RRSP or spouse to deduct off of my taxable income.  If you pay in any income tax, you will see a bit more money coming back to you.

If you have no income or very little income, this credit may still be important for you. It may reduce your income to the point that you now qualify for the GST. If you have a child with diabetes, it will mean that he/she now qualifies for a disabled child benefit which adds approximately another $100 to your monthly CTB.

There are still many questions from people who are not sure if they qualify. You can try this short quiz to help you decide. I will also attempt to answer a few questions that come up…

But I’m don’t want to be labeled Disabled.

The Disability Tax Credit? I am not disabled! I don’t want my child labeled this way either.  You are not claiming that you or your loved one is “disabled”.  By applying for this credit, you are stating that you or your loved one requires “life-sustaining therapy” to stay alive. As I have said, no insulin equals no life.

Do children automatically qualify?

Children under 18 years of age who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes do qualify for the tax credit.  It is that simple. The time spent on care by the child and parent is felt to easily total over 14 hours. A signature from your doctor regarding diagnosis will entitle you to the credit.  While reducing your taxable income, this credit will also entitle you to the Disabled Child Tax Benefit as well as the CTB you may already be receiving.

My son is now an adult. Does he still qualify?

Yes, he does.  If he has any developmental issues, this definitely means he qualifies and it should be noted on the T2201.  If he does not have developmental issues, but he still tests regularly, injects or boluses, and intensively manages his diabetes care, then he still requires life-sustaining therapy and meets the time requirements.

I have Type 2 Diabetes. Do I qualify?

This one is a little trickier.  If you are no longer producing any insulin and must take insulin injections multiple times per day or use an insulin pump, then you may qualify for the DTC. If your diabetes is still managed through diet, exercise or pills, you will not qualify. Again, you can go through our quiz to see if you may qualify. 

I don’t know what type of diabetes I have but I take needles. Do I qualify?

Again, as long as you are using multiple daily injections, logging, and testing, you most likely will qualify for the DTC.

Is it true you can’t count recovery time?

I was told that you can’t count recovery from lows.  That is right. You can’t but CRA does recognize that you can make errors in your care.  I have a lengthy list of how time is calculated in accordance with CRA guidelines. If you feel that you do these things, then you should easily qualify for the DTC.

Please remember that your doctor must be very aware of what qualifies as therapy and how you manage your time.  Your doctor now is your key to approval. If he or she understands the time you invest in keeping yourself healthy and tells CRA that, then you will get your tax credit.

To help your doctor understand how much time you spend on your care, you can share with him/her activities logged in the DTC workbook

Why do I care about getting the DTC?

Again, this is a credit that gets you money back on your taxes! I am not an accountant but I have come to think of it as my own extra RRSP or spouse to deduct.  This is an amount that comes off of your taxable income before anything else.  If you pay in any income tax, you will see more money coming back to you.

Even if you have no income or very little income, this credit can still be important for you. It may reduce your income to the point that you now qualify for the GST.  If you have a child with diabetes, remember that it will mean that he/she now qualifies for a disabled child benefit which adds approximately another $100 to your monthly CTB.

Do I have to reapply?

It depends on the person processing your file. Yes, it is that arbitrary.  I have heard of families with two people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who both applied for the DTC and both were given two different times to reapply.  You could be approved for two years, five years or even for a lifetime.  

Remember the Disability Tax Credit is a tax credit that you receive because you put so much work into keeping yourself of your loved one alive. Life-sustaining therapy is a real part of diabetes.  Injecting, bolusing, testing, calculating is all part and parcel of what keeps us or our loved ones alive. These are not tasks that someone without diabetes has to perform.

If you have any further questions ask your diabetes team, your accountant or contact me and I will do what I can to point you in the right direction.