The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a Canadian tax law aimed at helping tax paying disabled Canadians, their families or supporters deal with the various financial implications and medical expenses of having a disability or a substantial impairment. Even though the DTC initiative has been available since 1988, it is still under-utilized and often misunderstood by most Canadians and their medical practitioners. Once approved for the Disability Tax Credit, you will be able to receive the refund you are deemed eligible for, as well as an additional Child Disability Tax Benefit if your child is the one eligible; as well as access to different governmental and provincial benefit programs, such as the Registered Disability Saving Plan (RDSP). For the above reasons, we have revamped our 2017 Ultimate Disability Tax Credit Guide, with new and detailed information and answers to most common questions regarding this initiative.
Table of Contents
- Disability Tax Credit Definition
- How Was The Disability Tax Credit Established?
- How Does The Disability Tax Credit Affect Your Other Governmental or Provincial Benefits
- How to Determine Your Eligibility for the DTC
- The 3 main impairment categories that determine the DTC eligibility
- What is “Markedly restricted” as it pertains to the eligibility for the DTC
- Life-sustaining therapy as a DTC eligibility marker
- What is “prolonged impairment” as it pertains to the eligibility for the DTC
- Completing the DTC application on your own
- Completing the DTC application with help of an accountant or a bookkeeper
- Completing the DTC application with help from a DTC firm
- How Long Does it Take to Process A DTC Application?
- What are the 2 main components of The DTC certificate, Form T2201?
- Who can fill out Part B of the DTC Certificate Form T2201?
What Is The Disability Tax Credit?
Disability Tax Credit Definition
The Disability Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit created by the Canadian Government and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in order to reduce the amount of income tax Canadians with disabilities and/or their families & supporters would have to pay annually.
How Was The Canadian Disability Tax Credit Program Established?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) introduced the Disability Tax Credit initiative with the purpose of helping 22% of Canadians who are living with prolonged physical or mental impairment (CSD, 2017) and their families offset the various costs associated with those impairments such as medications, special equipment, personal support etc.
According to the findings from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), one in five Canadians (6.2 million) has one or more disabilities that restrict the performance of their daily activities.
Prior to 1986, the Canada Revenue Agency had a standard deduction reserved for individuals who used wheelchairs or were blind. When more disabilities and mental illnesses became more visible and recognized, taxable income benefits were offered to the persons who suffered from these conditions as well.
In 2005, “prolonged impairments” became the key definition to help people determine their eligibility. This definition created a path for persons with disabilities that struggled with day-to-day common tasks to receive disability benefits.
How Does The Disability Tax Credit Affect Your Other Governmental or Provincial Benefits?
- Once found eligible for the DTC, you are also qualified to set up a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). The RDSP is a long-term savings plan providing benefits in the form of disability savings grants and bonds.
- The DTC is a federal program and it does not affect or alter your status of other government or provincial programs such as OSAP/student loans, ODSP (Ontario), AISH (Alberta), Disability Assistance (British Columbia), etc.
- As part of the DTC, the Child Disability Benefit is a tax-free monthly payment (not based on federal taxes paid) made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.
What Are the Disability Tax Credit Eligibility Criteria?
To be eligible for the DTC you must:
- Be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident.
- Prove that either you cope with a prolonged impairment, marked restriction, have two or more significant restrictions, or you are dependent upon “life-sustaining” therapy
- You or your supporter paid federal taxes in the years you are claiming the Disability Tax Credit for.
How to Determine Your Eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit
The DTC is intended to help people who cope with prolonged or permanent impairment. The impairment must cause a significant restriction on the person’s ability to carry out ‘activities of daily living’ (ADL).
The ADL, recognized as a strong marker for DTC eligibility in Canada, includes bathing, dressing, walking, carrying, lifting, and other elements of personal care.
The eligible impairments can be generally divided into 3 main categories. However, it is crucial to understand that the eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit is not based on the diagnosis of the impairment, but rather the severity of the impairment and the way it affects your ‘activities of daily living’ as described above.
The 3 main impairment categories that determine the Disability Tax Credit eligibility
The 3 main impairment categories that determine the DTC eligibility are:
Disability Tax Credit Eligibility for Diabetes Patients
Diabetes is a physical impairment that makes an individual’s body unable to maintain the proper blood glucose levels without constant monitoring and intervention. Depending nature of the treatment and how its affects the patient’s daily living, a person diagnosed with diabetes may be eligible to receive the DTC.
Disability Tax Credit Eligibility for Mental Illness and Psychological Impairments
Mental Illness can have consequences on an individual’s ability to work, and in severe cases, it can affect even a person’s ability to take care of themselves without professional intervention. This is why the CRA considers the following conditions as potentially eligible impairments for the Disability Tax Credit:
- Mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
- Eating disorders
- Trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Substance abuse disorders
- NOTE: In regard to physical impairments, the disability must also affect the corresponding psychological activities of daily life such as making decisions, making judgement, memory, concentration, etc. It’s also important to remember that it is not the diagnosis of these impairments that make you eligible for DTC but actually the effects of this diagnosis.
What is “Markedly restricted” as it pertains to the eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit
“Markedly restricted” is also identified as a qualifying criterion when:
- The individual is unable to perform, or take an inordinate amount of time to perform two or more of ADL’s listed above, even with therapeutic assistance, technological/adaptive devices, and/or medication
- “inordinate amount of time”: usually 3 times longer than the amount of time an abled person of the same age would take to complete the activity
- The severe restriction must affect the individual 90% of the time or more OR the combination of two or more moderate restrictions such as walking and dressing for example cumulatively add up to a 90 percent restriction
“Greg M, was diagnosed in 2005 with Osteoarthritis , underwent knee surgery in the same year due to tears in both knees. It takes him 3 times longer than a normal person to walk or perform any other activities in daily living. Greg has to sit to put on garments and socks. His wife does most of the housework due to his severe condition. Greg’s impairment is considered “markedly restricted” and his application was approved by the CRA”
Life-sustaining therapy as a DTC eligibility marker
Life-sustaining therapy is another marker Disability Tax Credit eligibility, where one must spend an excess of 14 hours per week on the treatment required for survival such as insulin therapy, chest physiotherapy (helps with breathing), kidney dialysis (blood filter).
While the term “Life-sustaining therapy” may sound daunting, it is recognized as a treatment that takes up a substantial amount of money and time. Therefore, individuals whose lives depend on life-sustaining therapy are subject to receive the non-refundable tax credit to help alleviate the medical expenses, loss of income, etc.
“Louis G, suffers from Type 1 Diabetes, is presently on injections 4 times/day. He has to take diabetes related tests daily, which takes up over 2 hours per day, and more than 14 hours a week. The daily injections and tests Louis has to take is considered life sustaining therapy”
What is “prolonged impairment” as it pertains to the eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit
The CRA has identified “prolonged impairment” as the working condition to determine one’s eligibility for the DTC.
Following are what they look for:
- The individual requires and receives extensive therapy to aid in performing activities of daily living
- The individual has had surgeries, hospitalizations, short- and long-term disability, employment restrictions, etc.
- The individual’s impairment has lasted, or is expected to last for a minimum of 12 consecutive months
List of prolonged impairments
The following is a list of some of the more common conditions that the CRA continues to mark one’s eligibility for the Disability Tax Credit:
- Digestion Disorders: Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, Colitis, Prostate Problems
- Limited Mobility Issues – Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Back and Neck Problems
- Breathing Disorders: COPD, Emphysema, Tuberculosis, Asthma
- Hearing Impairments
- Cognitive Impairments: Memory Loss, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, traumatic and acquired brain injury, Parkinson’s.
- Psychological Disorders: ADHD, Autism, Depression, Panic Disorder, Mood Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis.
- Autoimmune Diseases: Rheumatoid arthritis, Diabetes Type 1
How Does The Disability Tax Credit Work?
The DTC is a refund on federal taxes paid by Canadian individuals with disabilities OR their supporter. i.e. if the disabled person or their supporter have paid or are paying federal taxes (usually above 20-25k income). They will be able to claim and receive a portion of the paid amount should they qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.
The DTC refund methods
- Retroactive one-time refund – The CRA will evaluate your DTC application and if you were diagnosed or had the symptoms of the qualifying disabilities, they will approve you for the DTC for up to the past 10 years. If you or your supporter has been paying federal taxes during those years, you will receive a lump sum payment as a refund for the years you were found eligible.
- Annual refund – If your impairment started recently and you have been found eligible to receive the DTC, you will be able to claim the DTC refund annually when you prepare your taxes.
A key to understanding how the DTC works is to understand the differences between the disabled and the claimant as it pertains to the Disability Tax Credit application process.
What is the difference between The Disabled and The Claimant?
When a person is applying for the DTC they can be both the disabled and the claimant but there are many situations where the disabled and claimant are not the same person so we must understand the difference between both.
o The Disabled:
The Disabled is the individual who has impairments or conditions that qualify them for the DTC.
In many cases, the person’s impairments may have prevented them from working and paying federal taxes. They will qualify for the DTC based on their impairments and can “transfer” those credits to their supporter who will then become the claimant.
o The Claimant:
In order to be considered as a claimant by the CRA you must meet the following criteria:
- Have proof of ongoing support for the disabled person for these necessities of life: food, shelter, and clothing.
- The disabled person is your spouse, common-law partner, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew.
- Paying federal taxes is NOT an eligibility criterion for the DTC as it is not based on your income rather your impairments.
- Once you’re found eligible for the DTC and you want to maximize the refunds, you can transfer the credits to your supporter (some of the years or all of the years)
- In child DTC cases you don’t even need to have been paying federal taxes because if a child is found eligible for Disability Tax Credit the parent / guardian will have their Canada child benefits increased for those years.
How To Complete Your Disability Tax Credit Application
As discussed in previous sections, the DTC application process is rather straight forward and can be done with relative ease. However, in order to get approved and gain access to the applicable refund, one must consider the route that works best for their situation.
Option 1: Completing the Disability Tax Credit application on Your Own
To apply for the DTC, all you must do is take the following steps:
- Download the T2201 Form from the CRA’s website
- Print the T2201 and take it to your health care practitioner to fill out and sign.
- Send the signed T2201 by mail to the CRA’s processing center
The main benefit of taking this “DIY” route is the minimal cost associated with it. There will be a cost of $25 up to $150 to be paid to the health practitioner as a fee for filling out the form.
However, there are a few drawbacks to the “DIY” approach:
- Many health practitioners are not familiar with the eligibility criteria and may not fully and thoroughly certify your condition.
- Your DTC application may result in a “follow-up questionnaire” request from the CRA. This questionnaire requires further details and in-depth explanation of your impairments and their effects on your “activities of daily living”, to be provided by your medical practitioner. Some medical practitioners may encounter confusion with this questionnaire as they must spend more time and effort with you and your DTC application. If not filled properly and accurately, your DTC application will be denied by the CRA.
- If your application is successful and you get approved for the DTC, you may not have the knowledge & understanding of how to maximize your credits and benefits applicable. Therefore, you may not have access to the maximum refund that is available to you.
Option 2: Completing the Disability Tax Credit application with the Help of An accountant or a Bookkeeper
All accountants and bookkeepers should know about the DTC as it is part of the Canadian Tax code. Once you inform your accountant about your qualifying disability, they will print out the T2201 and suggest that you have it filled out and signed by your doctor.
The main benefit again is the minimal cost involved: Most accountants consider this as a simple service and will not charge you for their advice.
There are a few drawbacks of using an accountant or bookkeeper:
- Accountants have very little knowledge of the actual eligibility criteria required by the CRA and they will usually just refer you to your doctor.
- If approved, the accountant may charge a flat fee as they will need to apply for the credits and benefits on your behalf.
The 2 options above can work well if the applicant’s impairments are severe and their medical practitioner has experience and understanding of the eligibility criteria for the DTC.
However, not all cases are “clear-cut” and simple. In fact, most DTC applicants may fall into a “gray area” where they may demonstrate some qualifying impairments but not enough to be found eligible.
Most importantly, we have found in the past that if your DTC application was denied by the CRA, reversing their decision is harder because you now have to “explain” your impairments in a different way and may even need to use a different medical practitioner.
Option 3: Completing the Disability Tax Credit application with the Help of a DTC Firm
Some disabled Canadians choose to go with the third option of hiring a specialized DTC firm to help them with the whole application process.
There are many benefits to working with a specialized DTC firm (like Disability Credit Canada):
- The firm has a strong understanding of the eligibility criteria and knows the specific CRA requirements for various disabilities.
- The firm will review your medical records and communicate with your medical practitioner. They will then work with them to fill out the T2201 certificate and if necessary, fill out the “follow-up questionnaire”.
- Once your DTC application is approved, the firm will apply for all credits and benefits and work towards maximizing the amount of refund you are eligible for.
- It is stress-free – most of the work is taken care of by the DTC firm.
- Most DTC firms work on a NO WIN-NO FEE basis. They have an incentive to get you approved and gain you maximum refund. If the application is not successful, you don’t have to pay any cost. The only drawback to working with a DTC firm is the fee at the end of the process. Once your application is approved and you successfully gain access to the refund, you will be required to pay the firm a certain percentage off the retroactive refunds recouped by them.
How Long Does it Take to Process A Disability Tax Credit Application?
Regardless of how you might choose to pursue your Disability Tax Credit Application, it will typically take between 3 to 6 months before you receive word from the CRA regarding eligibility and the reassessment of your previous year’s taxes if you were qualified. In some cases, it may take over a year as well.
What Is the Disability Tax Credit Form T2201?
In order to apply for the DTC, one must fill out Form T2201 also known as the DTC Certificate. You must have a certified medical practitioner sign the T2201 and then submit the signed form to the CRA as no application for the DTC is considered without it. You can find and download the T2201 form on the CRA’s website.
What are the 2 main components of The Disability Tax Credit Certificate/Form T2201?
The Disability Tax Credit certificate, Form T2201 consists of 2 main components:
- Part A: You must enter the personal information of the disabled person as well as the claimant (if they are not the same person). Some of the information that you will be asked to provide in this section is Name, Address, Date of Birth, and Social Insurance Number.
- Part B: To be filled and certified by a medical practitioner (this part encompasses pages 3-6 of the T2201 Form)
- The medical practitioner will be asked to certify your medical state in areas including Vision, Speaking, Hearing, Walking, Eliminating (bowel or bladder functions), Feeding, Dressing, and Mental Functions.
- Each respective part must be filled out by the corresponding health care practitioner. For example, the vision section must be certified by a medical doctor or optometrist and hearing section must be certified by a medical doctor or audiologist.
- Page 4 (top): This page is only to be completed if the disabled is on life-sustaining therapy and must be completed by a doctor.
- Page 4 (bottom): This page is about the cumulative effects of the restrictions on your daily living.
Who can fill out Part B of the Disability Tax Credit Certificate/Form T2201?
The CRA will not consider just any “medical practitioner” as a signing authority on the DTC Form T2201.
Below is a full list of different medical practitioners authorized to certify Part B of The DTC Certificate Form T2201:
- Vision: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or optometrist
- Speaking: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or speech-language pathologist
- Hearing: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or audiologist
- Walking: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, occupational therapist, or physiotherapist
- Eliminating (bowel or bladder functions): Medical doctor or nurse practitioner
- Feeding: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or occupational therapist
- Dressing: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or occupational therapist
- Mental Function Necessary for Everyday Life: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or psychologist
- Life-sustaining Therapy: Medical doctor or nurse practitioner
- Cumulative Effect of Significant Restrictions: Medical doctor, nurse practitioner, or occupational therapist
In the 2017 Federal Budget, nurse practitioners (not to be confused with “registered nurses”) have been included in the list of medical practitioners authorized to certify DTC Certificates for any functions that medical doctors are authorized.
Providing Nurse Practitioners the ability to certify the DTC just like medical doctors is great news for Canadians living with disabilities where Nurse Practitioners are their first point of contact (e.g.: Canada’s North, remote communities etc.)
How Is The Disability Tax Credit Calculated?
Calculating the DTC and understanding how much money you will receive at the end of the DTC process can be a daunting task for a regular person who is not an accountant or a bookkeeper, so in order to simplify it one must understand that the DTC is comprised of a “Base Amount” and where applicable a “Supplemental Amount”.
Furthermore, the “Base Amount” and “Supplemental Amount” portions are given from both federal and provincial sources:
- The federal DTC portion is 15% of the disability amount for that tax year.
- The provincial DTC portion is approx. 10% (percentage varies from province to province) of the disability amount for that tax year.
The Disability Tax Credit (Base Amount)
If the eligible person is an adult, he/she will receive the federal and provincial “Base Amount” ONLY. For example:
- The federal disability amount for 2018 is $8,235 and 15% of that is $1,235.25
- The provincial disability amount in Ontario for 2018 is $8,365 and 10% of that is $836.5
Therefore, a DTC eligible adult in Ontario would have received $1,235.25 + $836.5= $2,071.75
The Disability Tax Credit (Supplemental Amount)
If the eligible person is under 18 years of age at the end of the tax year then he/she will be eligible to receive the “Base Amount” as well as the “Supplemental Amount”.
- The federal supplemental disability amount for 2018 is $4,804 and 15% of that is $720.6
- The provincial supplemental disability amount in for 2018 is $4,879 and 10% of that is $487.9
Therefore, a DTC eligible MINOR in Ontario would have received:
- “Base Amount” as calculated above of $2,071.75
- “Supplemental Amount” of $720.6 + $487.9= $1,208.5
If we add “Base Amount” and “Supplemental Amount” we will see that an eligible person under 18 years of age in Ontario would receive $3,280.25 in Disability Tax Credits for the 2018 tax year.
In order to make it even easier to understand and to be able to calculate the approx. Disability Tax Credits you are eligible for you can follow the formula below:
- An eligible adult can receive a total of $1,500-$2,500 per year of eligibility
- An eligible Minor can receive a total of $3,000-$4,500 per year of eligibility
To summarize, in order to calculate the total amount of DTC you stand to receive, you need to multiply the number of years by the amount per year.
Calculating your 10 Year Retroactive DTC Payment
Calculating your 10 year retroactive refund is more or less the same as calculating for your current year. The only difference is that you will be using the maximum Disability Amounts of the Year you are getting the retroactive payment from. Below is a chart that details these amounts. As a rough estimate however, you may receive up to the following:
- If an adult is found eligible to receive the DTC for the past 10 years, he/she will receive between $15,000 and $25,000 in a lump sum amount.
- If a minor is found eligible to receive the DTC for the past 10 years, he/she will receive between $30,000 and $45,000 in a lump sum amount.
If your DTC application has been approved and you are trying to figure out how much you’ll be receiving, our Disability Tax Credit Calculator is available here to help you further understand and estimate your refunds.
MAXIMUM DISABILITY AMOUNTS (FEDERAL)
|Year||Maximum Disability Amount||Maximum Supplement For Persons Under 18|
Once You’re Approved
How Much Is Your Disability Tax Credit Amount?
To summarize the calculations above, on average, you can stand to receive between $2,000 to $3,000 a year, and your up-to ten year retroactive payment can be at a maximum of between $15,000 to $45,000.
Once Approved for Disability Tax Credit, What Else Can You Do?
Being approved for DTC is an eligibility marker for the Registered Disability Savings Plan. This is a government-endorsed savings account wherein the Canadian government matches a portion of the money you save into the account. This account was made for parents of children who are eligible for DTC and other people looking to put money away for the future of a disabled individual. You can learn more about it on the Canada.ca website.
At Disability Credit Canada, we take pride in helping disabled Canadians claim CPP Disability Benefits & Disability tax credit. Check our other Resources
- Disability tax Credit Calculator
- Disability tax Credit Provincial Resources
- The Definitive Guide to The Child Disability Tax Credit
- Disability Tax Credit for Arthritis Sufferers
- Disability Tax Credit for ADHD or ADD
- Disability Tax Credit for Anxiety Disorders