Category Archives: DTC

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.

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

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!!!!   

Day 5: The Greatest things I have done because of Diabetes?

What awesome thing have you done because of diabetes? This was Day 5 of Diabetes BlogFest’s question. I apologize for being late, but Blogger was giving me such a hard time that I didn’t get this done when I should but I promise to provide an answer anyway.   

There is so much that has happened because Diabetes moved into our lives. I have met amazing friends.  I have connected with incredible networks.  I have had the privilege to speak with so many people whose families are impacted by diabetes. 

I have worked to give back as much as I can. I have done talks on dealing with diabetes and schools here in Canada.  I have written letters, articles and talked about diabetes on TV and radio.  I have advocated to protect the rights our children with diabetes in school, to get all people living with diabetes insulin pumps and better access to supplies, and a few other things.

One of the most well known of those fights is the fight to have fair and equal access to something called the “Disability Tax Credit“.  Before Diabetes I did not know anything about this tax credit (the DTC). I was not that well versed on tax law period.  I have always been someone who would voice their opinion on a perceived injustice however.  When I applied for this tax credit for my son with Type 1 diabetes, I quickly saw how unjust the tax system was to people with Type 1 diabetes.

I have written about this battle before.  The short version goes as follows–I applied for the Disability Tax credit for my son.  It was clear to me that he required Life Sustaining Therapy.  I had seen what would happen if he did not receive insulin and giving him insulin required most of my day to monitor and adjust.  The federal government did not see things quite as clearly as I did and it became my job to educate them.

With the help of an incredible mentor, our story was presented to a committee who was looking at the fairness of the current DTC system.  We knew the system to be anything but fair.  To get this credit if you had diabetes you had to be strong, have an education and possibly even a lawyer. This was not right.

Through my website, a large number of people joined me in writing letters, questioning the Finance department, and contacting their MP.  By the year 2003, the Federal government announced changes in their budget.  It was first time that a disease and such a change was announced with the Federal budget.  The changes to the DTC would cost over $40million.  That is money that would go back into the hands of people living with diabetes.  It  was a surreal victory that brought me to tears.

Without Diabetes, I would never have known about this problem.  I would never have taken up the fight and I would never have been able to help facilitate a change in tax law that continues to help people living with diabetes to this day.