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.

Diabetes Made me Do it

Its the first day of another Diabetes Blog Week! I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful adventure once again.  As a blogger, it allows me to have topics chosen for me and write about topics that I may not have otherwise thought about.  As a reader, it gives me the chance to see many new blogs that I may not have come across before.  In other words, its a win-win week that I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Today’s prompt asks me to share  what I have done because of diabetes that has made me the most proud or what good thing has diabetes brought into my life?

Obviously I am proud of the way my son is learning to handle his own diabetes care.  How much of that is up to me and how much is just his personality? We will never know but he takes each day in stride and never seems to complain about his lot in life. I can’t ask for much more than that!

For me personally, diabetes has brought an incredible network of friends.  Those friends have encouraged and inspired me to be involved and help to create changes to the world of diabetes in Canada.

It amazes me to look back at how long I have “known” some of these people.  There are the core group of parents that I met on the Children With Diabetes Parents Email list almost 15 years ago.  They have been with me through the good and bad.  They have been there with a hug or a shove in my personal life as well as in our life with diabetes.  The connections made there have been some of the dearest of any I have ever made.  They are truly the very, very best thing to come out of a life with diabetes.

With their encouragement and prodding, I began to look to see what I could do to better improve the lives of people with diabetes.  It led me into two areas–both dealing with fairness.  First there was the issue of fairness in our tax system.

Not long after my son’s diagnosis, I learned of a thing called the Disability Tax Credit.  In reading the description, I knew that my son qualified. In time,  I came to learn that the Canadian Revenue Agency did not always see things the same way that I did.  Some people with diabetes were qualifying, some weren’t.  Some people with diabetes were fighting for this right in court, some weren’t.  I sought to equalize the playing field and make the powers that be understand what was really involved in living with diabetes.

During this process, I met more amazing people.  There were families struggling to get by. There were adults who just wanted to be treated equitably and see some financial relief from the burden of diabetes care costs.  I interacted with many people, some I still hear from and others I see in posts on various social media platforms.  Each one was vital for their support and their belief in what we could do.

Together we did make a difference.  Today, all children under the age of 18 are given the DTC upon receipt of the T2201 from their doctor indicating a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.  Adults are also eligible for this credit but still must first prove that they are intensively managing their diabetes care and that it takes over 14 hours per week.

When I read posts online about people getting this credit or when  I read others advising their friends to check out my website for tips and information, my heart swells. I know that I have made a difference.

The other thing that I have done because of diabetes that makes me proud is my work with parents and educators in regards to sending children with diabetes to school.  This issue has been something that I have worked on since my son was 3 years old.  He will soon be 18.  The situation is not perfect, but I am happy to say that there have been profound and real changes in how diabetes care is viewed in many Canadian schools.

When I began this journey, the only province to have any sort of legislation or provincial policy in place was New Brunswick.  To date, provinces such as Quebec, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and BC all at least mention the care and treatment of children with diabetes in schools in their provincial education policies.

We still have a long way to go but I no longer receive numerous telephone calls each fall from parents struggling to get help.  I hope that that is a sign that there is more and more support out there for families and students.

Diabetes is a crappy disease. It ruins holidays. It never goes away. Its unpredictable at times and never takes a rest.  It has however brought me a network of friends that have kept me sane throughout the years.  It has allowed me to help in areas that I never would have known about otherwise. For those things, I am truly happy to be able to say that “Diabetes made me do it!”d made me

 

 

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

A Disability Tax Credit Motivational Memory

Being Monday, I thought I would name the day “Memorable Monday” and I would take you back to a great memory that kept me motivated when fighting for changes to the Disability Tax Credit so many years ago…

The full story of how the changes to the Disability Tax Credit came to be can be found on my website.  Suffice it to say, it was a huge struggle that was motivated and moved forward by many incredible and supportive individuals.

Together we managed to create a change that continues to benefit Canadians with diabetes today.

There was one woman, however, whose story pushed me forward whenever I was frustrated.  It was a few words from her and what the credit meant to her family that made me more determined than ever to see this credit become equitable to everyone.

In the early 2000s, insulin pump therapy in Canada was beginning to hit its stride. Insulin pumps were becoming smaller, smarter and available to more people.  They were not yet covered by provincial health plans and only a select few private plans were paying for them. This made this family’s story that much more moving.

I was contacted by a  woman who wanted to help change the way the Disability Tax Credit was applied to people living with diabetes.  That in itself was not unusual.  As word of the initiative grew, I was contacted by more and more people who wanted to get involved.  This lady had two children living with the disease.  Life had to be a struggle but she did not complain.  She was writing to help me not to ask me for assistance.

She was a hardworking parent.  Her children were doing well.  She was able to afford an insulin pump…but only for one child.  Her finances did not at that time allow her to pay for a pump and supplies for two children. One would be able to pump but one would have to continue on injections.  If we were able to make changes to this tax credit, then the money saved on her tax return at the end of each year would make two insulin pumps financially possible.

My heart broke.  That was not her intention but it did. I could not begin to imagine the struggle of having more than one child with diabetes but worse, having to choose who gets a pump and who doesn’t? That was so terribly sad.  I had to see change happen.  I knew that sadly this woman’s plight was most likely not unique.  The increased tax savings would help many other families and individuals living with diabetes.

As we wrote letters, contacted Members of Parliament, and spoke with the occasional member of the media, this family stayed in my head. I remained in contact with her.  She did her part to send letters and garner outside support for our cause. We finally won the changes that we desired.  She told me that she could now purchase two pumps with the money that she was now owed! I knew that the tears and frustrations getting to that point had been worth it.

Sadly, I have lost touch with the family. I honestly would not be able to even tell you where they lived but their story is still with me. It motivated me when fighting for the tax credit, I shared it when advocating for pump coverage. Some would say that I helped them but I know that this wonderful woman’s spirit helped me to help many others.

fairness report

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.