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.

Most Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Disability Tax Credit.

Disability Tax Credit Basics

Its that time of year again…tax time! Here in Canada, it is also the time that many people living with diabetes learn that they could be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

Here are a few frequently asked questions that will hopefully help you as you decide if you or your loved one qualifies…

Does everyone with diabetes qualify?

No.  In order to qualify for the DTC you must use multiple daily injections of insulin via syringe or insulin pump and be intensively managing your diabetes care.

What does intensively managing your diabetes care mean?

You must be testing, injecting, logging, and adjusting your insulin doses.  These tasks must take you over 14 hours per week to perform.

Do children with diabetes qualify?

Yes, children under 18 qualify without having to prove the 14 hours.  CRA assumes that the amount spent on diabetes care by both the parent and child would combine to be over 14 hours per week and therefore a diagnosis signed by the doctor on the T2201 is all that is required for their approval.

What is the Disabled Child Benefit?

This is a separate amount that can be given to you for your child if your child is eligible for the DTC and you are receiving a Child Tax Benefit.

What is a T2201?

This is the form created by CRA that must be filled out by the person with diabetes and their doctor in order to qualify for the disability tax credit.

I am not disabled! I don’t want to be labeled disabled. Why do I want to fill out this credit?

The DTC, when applied to people with diabetes,  is not about being disabled.  A person with diabetes does not qualify based on a disability. They qualify based on the clause for people who require “Life-sustaining therapy”.  This subsection is for people who spend an inordinate amount of time on the therapy that they require to live.

I have read that I can’t use the amount of time that I spend counting carbohydrates. Why not?

CRA feels that over time things like counting carbs become second nature to a person with diabetes and therefore no longer takes an inordinate amount of their time.

I have to exercise because of my diabetes.  Can I count the time I spend at that the gym?

No. Everyone should be exercising and while there is added benefits for a person with diabetes, this is not an activity that will be allowed on your application.

What tasks can I include in my application?

The Diabetes Advocacy website includes a comprehensive list of what sort of tasks are allowed and a guide of how much time it takes to perform them each day.

Do I need to send CRA my log book?

There is no need. CRA simply wants to see the tasks that you do each week with a specific breakdown of how much time those tasks take.  You doctor however may ask that you keep track of what you are doing for a period of time and bring it to him/her before they will sign off on the T2201 for you.

Find out how much time you spend on diabetes-related tasks with the help of our 7 day workbook.

Who can sign the T2201?

A medical doctor must sign this form.  This can be your family doctor, pediatrician, internist or endocrinologist.  Choose the person with the most knowledge of your care and understanding of what they are signing.  Their support is vital to a successful application.

Do I need to pay someone to fill out the T2201?

No.  There is no reason to pay a fee or a percentage of your return to have this credit filled for you.  Diabetes Advocacy does offer a service to assist in filling the forms for those who are not comfortable in doing this themselves.  I also have created a booklet that guides you step by step on how to fill the forms.

Can I only apply when I file my taxes?

No, you don’t have to wait until you file your tax return to make a DTC application. You can fill out the T2201 at any time and ask for the Canadian Revenue to reassess your taxes for years back to your diagnosis or 10 years, whichever is first.

Take our short DTC quiz to see if you might qualify.