Category Archives: disability tax credit

A DTC 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.
 
I have sadly 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

How to be an Advocate

Advocacy.  What is it? How do you describe it or explain to someone how to become an “advocate”?
A number of months ago I was asked to talk about the topic of advocacy. It was the hardest discussion I have ever done. Its not something that I think about. I can’t say, go through these steps and you will be an advocate. An advocate is just something that we are when we are humans who take a stand. I was an advocate for what I believed in as a young pre-teen and I have continued to be an advocate as an adult and parent.
Google says that an advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. As a parent, when we stand up for our children in school we are their advocate.  When we go to the doctor and ask for a particular treatment option, we become a health advocate.  We may not be Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, or Gandhi but we are advocates nonetheless. We do make a difference.
We make a difference to ourselves and our perception of who we are.  We see ourselves as stronger and more in control of our own destiny.  We make a difference to our loved ones by providing them with a positive role model. Do we change the world? We just might.
Very rarely do advocates strike out on a journey expecting to change the world.  Often, they have begun to travel the road they are on for selfish reasons–they want to change something in their own lives.  They want to make things easier or better for them.  I began to seek out change to the Disability Tax Credit because I saw flaws in the current system.  I knew that I had the strength to stand up for my son’s rights but as I continued on my journey, I realized that many others would not have the resources that I did.  It was important for me to do everything that I could to make the road easier for those who came after me.  After a lot of hard work and support, we have the changes and the much more fair treatment that we see in those applying for and receiving the tax credit today.
fairness report
Parents are taking school boards and provincial departments of education to task and seeing changes in how diabetes is managed in Canadian schools. In California, advocates stood firm and were able to fight to keep nurses in their schools for their children with diabetes.
Most recently, patients here in Canada took it upon themselves to push Health Canada to see the Animas Vibe insulin pump approved for sale.  Phone calls, emails, and letters from everyday consumers put pressure on this regulatory body to give Canadians living with diabetes another choice when it comes to insulin pumps with Continuous Glucose Monitoring capabilities.
Regular people did these things.  People like you and me.  People who simply were not happy with the way things were and publicly asked for change.  Average citizens wanted to see a change in their world…and it rippled into the lives of many others. Its that simple and that complex.
It takes a step forward. It takes action. It takes confidence and a bit of blind faith but we all can be advocates–first for ourselves, for our loved ones…and then for others.
This posts marks the beginning of a new feature I will be doing at Diabetes Advocacy. On a regular basis I will be dedicating posts specifically to what is going on in the advocacy world–a recap as well as creating awareness of specific campaigns that are ongoing.  If you are involved in an advocacy effort, please email me and let me know. 

DTC 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 Disabled Tax Savings Plan and children who receive the credit may receive a Disabled Child Benefit through the Child Tax Credit. 

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 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 fair and equal treatment under this act. 

Children with diabetes who were under 14 (and arbitrary age pulled off of the Internet by CRA officials) were automatically given the credit by virtue of a diagnosis of diabetes. It was assumed that the time the child and parent spent on care would easily total over 14 hours per week (the time required to qualify as needing Life Sustaining Therapy). This was a huge victory and many of my friends’ children were given the tax credit until they were 16 and even 18 years old. No child was being given the credit for life. 

Despite the victory for friends, my application was to be reviewed for my son when he turned 15.  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 have a  diabetes clinic appointment next week and the doctor had told me to bring along the form for her to sign.  I was still nervous.  Would they recognize the name? My last name has changed. I have gone back to my maiden name.  Would they still make the 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 been granted the applications.  They 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

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.

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 as 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. Its 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. I will attempt to answer a few of them to the best of my limited abilities….

1.  The Disability Tax Credit? I am not disabled! I don’t want my child labelled this way either.  You are not claiming that you or your loved on 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.

2. Children under 14 who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 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 Disable Child Tax Benefit as well as the CTB you may already be receiving.

3. My son is 16.  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.

4. But 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.

5. I don’t know what type of diabetes I have but I have been using needles for the past 10 years.  Again, as long as you are using multiple daily injections, logging, and testing, you most likely will qualify for the DTC.

6. 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 to CRA guidelines. If you feel that you do these things, then you should easily qualify for the DTC.

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.

7. What is the  Disability Tax Credit and why do I care about getting it? Again, it 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.

8. How long does the DTC last? It depends on the person processing your file. Yes, its that arbitrary.  I have heard of families with two people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes who both applied for the DTC

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.