If you’re a disabled Canadian resident, or the caregiver for a disabled Canadian resident, there are many benefits available to help you get the assistance you need. But like any other form of government aid, navigating the intricacies of the eligibility and application process can be time consuming and sometimes intimidating. Thankfully, we’re here to help. One key fact we like to remind people we talk to, whether they’re clients or someone asking for advice on behalf of a disabled loved one, is this simple fact: Unless you submit a disability tax credit application through the Canada Revenue Agency, you’ll never know what benefits you may be entitled to by law.
To qualify for the disability tax credit, a Canadian resident must be physically or mentally impaired and the condition is long or severe, preventing the person from working regularly — or not work at all. By long and severe, the government means the condition has lasted, or is expected to last, 12 months or longer.
If you are unsure if your disability or the disability of someone you care for is significant enough to qualify for benefits, one of our trained disability consultants can help you answer that very question. Ultimately, receiving benefits depends on submitting a disability tax credit application, which is available through the Canada Revenue Agency website or one of its local offices.
The application is a 12 page document which includes two pages of instructions and a third page for a self-assessment survey to help a disabled person or caregiver determine if eligibility is a possibility. The self-assessment questionnaire on the disability tax credit application has five questions:
1. Has your impairment in physical or mental functions lasted, or is it expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months?
2. Are you blind?
3. Do you receive life-sustaining therapy? The government defines life-sustaining therapy as “therapy to support a vital function,” and which occurs three or more times a week.
4. Do the effects of your impairment cause you to be markedly restricted in one of the following basic activities of daily living, even with the appropriate therapy, medication, and devices? These include: speaking, hearing, walking, elimination (bowel or bladder functions), feeding, dressing, and mental functions necessary for everyday life. Markedly restricted means the disabled person is unable to perform basic daily activities of life without therapy or assistance (from a caregiver, machine, or medication).
The final question asks whether the disabled person is significantly restricted when attempting to perform two more basic activities for daily life, the restrictions exist all together or most of the time, or the cumulative effect of the restrictions is the equivalent of markedly restricted for one basic activity of daily life.
As part of the services we provide, we try and counsel our clients and prospective clients to try and remain positive: That if they meet eligibility requirements, then there is no logical reason the disability tax credit application would be denied.
The form includes two sections, A and B, both of which must be filled out completely and honestly. Part A is to be filled out by the disabled person or a caregiver on the person’s behalf, while part B is for a qualified practitioner to fill out. The Canada Revenue Agency says a qualified practitioner is a medical doctor, optometrist, audiologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist, or speech language therapist.
Canadian residents with a qualifying disability can benefit tremendously from assistance programs, but will never see those benefits unless they complete a disability tax credit application. For more information, contact us today.