A Guide to the Disability Tax Credit for Crohns and Colitis Disease
The federal Disability Tax Credit was initiated to help those suffering under the weight of medical expenses associated with a disability restore a modicum of stability and order to their financial lives, such as in conditions that require extensive therapy to manage, as in the case with Crohn’s Disease and Colitis.
Since the costs associated with a disability are unique to this group of taxpayers it was determined that expecting them to assume the same tax burden as people with similar incomes who were not disabled was fundamentally unfair. Since its inception the DTC has been widely hailed as a groundbreaking piece of legislation that has helped countless disabled Canadians and their families regain their rightful place in society. Eligibility for the DTC can also open up access to related benefits programs including the Child Disability Benefit. You can check out our guide on child disability tax credit.
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. Common symptoms are severe diarrhea, fatigue, abdominal pain, malnutrition and weight loss. Crohn’s disease is often painful, sometimes debilitating and potentially life-threatening.
There is no known cure for Crohn’s disease. While vigorous therapeutic regimes can allow some sufferers to retain an acceptable degree of functionality many others are not so fortunate. For these people who suffer a significant and prolonged impairment of their basic daily functions some degree of financial relief from their painful odyssey is available through the DTC.
Ulcerative colitis is another IBD which can have painful, long-term health consequences. Like Crohn’s ulcerative colitis carries with it the potential for life-threatening complications. Ulcerative colitis symptoms have a tendency to come on gradually. As a result many with the condition are unaware they have it until it has actually been manifest for years.
While both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect the lining of the intestine the effect of Crohn’s can be more diffuse whereas ulcerative colitis often attacks a single continuous section of the lining of the intestine down to and including the rectum.
As with Crohn’s the specific causes of ulcerative colitis can be difficult to pin down. Some researchers believe stress may be a causative factor, while others cite bacteria as a possible culprit. Still other researchers believe colitis may have genetic origins.
The DTC For Those With Crohn’s Disease or Colitis
If you or a member of your family are suffering with Crohn’s disease and Colitis you may be eligible for relief under the Canada Revenue Agency’s Disability Tax Credit initiative. As mentioned above the DTC is designed to help those with severe and prolonged impairments find relief from the financial burden imposed on their life and the lives of their family members, by their disability. As Crohn’s disease and Colitis are debilitating conditions that can affect people in more than one way there may be several categories of disability under which a sufferer of one of these conditions qualifies for DTC benefits.
FYI: if a person qualifies for the DTC they may also be eligible to claim retroactive benefits for up to 10 years for their disability. This can result in a substantial amount of money for the disabled person and their family and so this possibility should never be overlooked when applying for DTC benefits.
Qualifying for the Disability Tax Credit
In order to qualify for benefits under the DTC a person must be able to prove their Crohn’s disease and Colitis create a significant and prolonged impairment. That impairment must cause the person to be markedly restricted in their ability to perform at least one basic activity of daily living all – or substantially all – of the time. Or they must demonstrate that they would be markedly restricted if it were not for extensive therapy they regularly undergo in order to sustain a vital daily function.
For the purposes of DTC eligibility the following definitions apply:
● Prolonged – A “prolonged” disability is one that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least one full year (12 continuous months).
● Markedly restricted – In order to qualify as “markedly restricted” a person must be able to demonstrate that all or substantially all of the time they are unable to perform one or more basic daily functions even with therapy or assistive devices and/or medications. Or demonstrate that it takes them an inordinate amount of time to do so.
● Substantially all of the time – While “all of the time” is self-explanatory “substantially all of the time” is not. For the purpose of the DTC “substantially all of the time” means the marked restriction is present at least 90% of the time.
● Inordinate amount of time – Whether or not a person requires an “inordinate amount of time” to perform one of the daily functions of everyday life is a judgement arrived at by the claimant’s doctor or medical practitioner. The medical professional will typically observe the claimant and note any significant difference in the time it takes the claimant to perform one of the basic functions of daily life. In most cases ‘inordinate amount of time’ is equal to 3 times the amount of time it would take someone without a disability to perform the same function.
Further clarification – In the case of Crohn’s disease and Colitis a person may be able to manage eliminating without substantial difficulties or the need of assistance. In such a case the person likely would not require an inordinate amount of time to conduct the elimination and as a result would not be someone who qualified for the Disability Tax Credit, (even if they need to make more trips to the toilet than most other people).
Also, a person with Crohn’s and Colitis who is able to manage their elimination issues with diet or medications would also not be eligible for the DTC.
Note – Should you currently receive Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefits, Quebec Pension Plan (QPC) disability benefits, insurance benefits or worker’s compensation you are not necessarily ineligible to receive DTC relief as these programs have other, often different goals and/or qualification criteria.
The heart of the DTC application process is Form T2201. Form T2201 has two distinct parts; one (Part A) that must be filled out by the claimant or an authorized representative and another (Part B) that must be filled out and certified by a doctor or other qualified medical practitioner. You are eligible for DTC benefits only if the Canada Revenue Agency approves your form T2201. As the information included on Form T2201 is crucial to determining your eligibility for DTC benefits you must inform the CRA immediately if your condition improves after submitting your Form T2201. The following steps take you through the process of submitting Form T2201.
● Step 1: Obtain a copy of Form T2201 – A copy of Form T2201 can be obtained from the Canada Revenue Agency website or by visiting a regional office of the CRA and requesting one in person. Remember; both sides A and B must be completely filled out in the fashion indicated. Failure to do so will result in the rejection of your request for DTC benefits.
● Step 2: Complete Part A – Part A is to be filled out in full by the claimant. You will be asked for personal information as well as information regarding your income and the amount of tax you have paid among other things.
● Step 3: Have your doctor or medical practitioner fill out Part B – It is Part B of Form T2201 that will, in large part, determine your eligibility for DTC benefits. Take Part B to your doctor or medical practitioner and make sure they understand what is expected of them. The more information you can give them in this regard the better as some are familiar with the process and some are not.
Medical Practitioners May Certify the Following:
Medical Doctor: All Impairments
Optometrist: Vision-related Impairments
Audiologist: Hearing-related Impairments
Occupational Therapist: Walking, Feeding, Dressing and cumulative effects of these activities
Psychologist: Impairment of Mental Abilities Necessary for Daily Function
Speech/Language Pathologist: Speaking-related Impairments
In a case where a person is suffering from Crohn’s disease and Colitis then they would need a medical doctor to complete and certify Part B of Form T2201. An occupational therapist may also be useful in providing supporting documentation.
Remember: Any fees the medical practitioner charges for filling out Form T2201 are the responsibility of the claimant. Any fees however may be deductible as medical expenses on your tax returns.
● Step 4: Deliver Form T2201 – Once you are certain both Part A and Part B have been satisfactorily completed sign where required and send it to the Disability Tax Credit Unit of your regional tax centre. You may also hand deliver the form if you wish. Remember to always keep a copy of everything related to your DTC claim for future reference.
Processing Form T2201
Once Form T2201 and any supporting documentation (like tax returns for the current year) are received by the CRA the application review process will begin to assess your eligibility for DTC benefits. Most decisions will be based solely on the information provided therein. However, it is possible that CRA will require more information in order to make a full assessment of your case. In those situations we may contact you and/or your medical practitioner directly.
Once the review process is complete CRA will send you a written notice informing you of their determination.
● Should your application be approved – The notification of approval will include a list of which years you are eligible to receive DTC assistance for. Following approval you will not be required to submit a new application for each subsequent year unless CRA informs you of the need to do so. CRA may also inform you of any other benefit programs you are eligible for. Again, should your condition improve substantially between the time you send in Form T2201 and the time the eligibility determination is reached you must inform CRA.
● Should your application be denied – If CRA has determined you are not eligible for DTC benefits the notice of determination will explain why your application was turned down. Make sure you check your copy of Form T2201 against the stated reason for denial provided by CRA to make sure there are no discrepancies.
● Should you disagree with the CRA determination – If you disagree with the decision reached by CRA regarding your application for DTC benefits and you are in possession of additional information which you think may bolster your case send it to CRA. CRA will review the new information and issue a new determination. Should you be denied again yet still disagree with the CRA assessment you have a right to appeal the decision as long as you do so with 90 days after CRA mails the notification of their decision.