My Child Suffers From Epilepsy: What Disability Tax Credits are Available?
Epilepsy takes many forms, and because of this there is no concrete answer to whether or not a child with epilepsy will be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. However, there are many cases in which it does apply – and understanding whether or not this is the case in your particular situation is important.
What You Need to Know About Epilepsy
Many people have seen signs or messages in movies, video games, theaters or amusement parks that warn people with epilepsy that the following video or situations could cause a seizure. However, not many people truly understand the basis of this disorder. Epilepsy is not only caused by flickering lights – and some people have far more triggers than others.
Typically diagnosed as a young child or senior citizen, epilepsy can have prolonged effects than can affect the daily life activities of the person affected. Epilepsy is a disorder in the brain that causes the “electric system” to bring on seizures. These seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and render the person unable to move and/or respond to stimuli appropriately. In some cases, the person may lose consciousness.
Throughout Canada, it is estimated that 0.6% of the population is diagnosed with epilepsy, with an average of 42 new cases per day. For the most part, the cause of epileptic seizures is unknown, but can be caused by brain tumours, strokes, complications in delivery and alcohol poisoning among other things.
For some children diagnosed with epilepsy, they will grow out of the disorder and stop having seizures. For others, however, their symptoms remain severe, and they continue with epileptic seizures for prolonged periods. In these cases, the parents may be eligible for the Child Disability Tax Credit.
Disability Tax Credits for Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a fairly common disorder in Canada, but a large proportion of people with epilepsy can live fairly normal lives. However, some people with epilepsy do need to change their lives drastically – or the lives of their children – in an effort to avoid and minimize the risks and impacts of seizures. In these cases, the Disability Tax Credit may be available.
The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) requires the following to be true in order to be eligible for a Disability Tax Credit:
- You must have a severe mental or physical impairment.
- The impairment must affect you 90% or more of the time.
- The impairment must be prolonged (lasting for more than 12 months).
- A medical practitioner must certify that the above is true.
As a general rule, children with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy (BREC) or absence seizures are not usually eligible, unless they also have a severe and prolonged physical or mental impairment concurrently. In addition, the child needs to firstly be eligible for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). For more information regarding the CCTB, please see the CRA website.
You can also read our guide about child disability tax credit
When and How to Apply
If you do believe that your child fits the criteria for the Disability Tax Credit, then you could be eligible to receive up to $2,395 per year, or $199.58 per month. The first step towards finding out for sure, however, is to send an application to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Read our T2201 Disability Tax Credit Guide to find out more information.
You will be responsible for filling out the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) form, which includes information on your child (name, address, disability and date of birth) as well as information about yourself or the person who plans to claim the tax credit (name, address, date of birth, social insurance number). Once that is complete, you must have an appropriate medical practitioner certify the disability of the child in mention.
In order to be eligible, the doctor must agree that the condition is severe and prolonged, and impairs the child’s ability to perform daily functions.
Once the doctor’s assessment has been made, the form can be submitted to the CRA either with your yearly tax documents, or earlier in the year. Because it can sometimes be a complicated process, it is recommended that you submit the forms ahead of time to ensure that you get your tax credit on time.
Once accepted for the DTC, you can claim up to 10 previous years of tax credits if you have not done so already. Simply send a letter to the CRA and they can calculate your owed credits and send you a refund cheque. This process can often take up to 6 months, but is worth it in the end. To find out more, read our disability tax calculator guide.
Further Monetary Aid
Many children (and adults) who qualify for the DTC also qualify for the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Starting an RDSP for your disabled child at an early age is an excellent way to grow a significant sum of money which they can use to build a bright future.
The RDSP works by matching your deposits by 300% – up to a maximum of $3,500 each year. Put basically, it means that if you save $1,000 per year for your child and deposit it into the RDSP, the government will put in an additional $3,000. This offer is valid up to the age of 40, and offers a 5% return.
As well as the RDSP, you may find that there are further sources of monetary aid available for disabled children, as this varies from province to province. It’s important to speak to a professional accountant or someone at the CRA to find out exactly what you may be eligible for. Look online for Epilepsy support groups, as other parents may have valuable information to share.
The application process is pretty straight forward if you know what you’re doing – but not everyone does. Don’t hesitate to ask a professional tax accountant for help. It’s important that you are receiving all the benefits that are available to you, in order to make your life as easy as possible.
Once you’ve applied for the DTC once, the process only gets easier each year. Just remember – you must notify the government immediately if your child’s condition changes.