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.
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.
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!