Some great news before the 2017 year ended. In December CBC released an article talking about the CRA’s somewhat questionable actions regarding disability tax credit applications, specifically regarding those with diabetes. It seems like the publicity really helped the CRA move along in reviewing their decision. Take a read at the link here:
Despite what some more cynical may say, we believe that the fact our government would actually listen to our people and respond accordingly is an excellent thing. In these times, especially looking at our neighbours to the south, it’s really a very positive sign for us to see that our government react in this way. A particularly excellent bit of news is that the government voluntarily put together a disability advisory committee to avoid this sort of situation in the future. The committee actually has doctors among them, which is an excellent sign, including one of the co-chairs, Dr. Karen Cohen. Furthermore, members of the committee have been selected from all across Canada, which I assume is to ensure that they represent a wide array of needs and opinions.
Despite our frustrations with our government, it seems like, with enough effort, the CRA is willing to do the right thing. It’s a nice bit of holiday news for people with disabilities, especially those with diabetes.
With this obstacle out of the way, there are still some difficulties in place when it comes to applying for the DTC. We believe that the difficulties mainly come down to a lack of information. As an example, see this other article from the CBC, regarding a mother who does her best to apply for the DTC on behalf of her son who is diagnosed with autism.
Previously, we had written an article regarding autism, where we shared some basic info. One fact, if you’ll remember, is that autism is a life-long disability. It doesn’t go away, and there is no “cure” for it. Yet, for some reason, Sharon finds that she needs to reapply for her son’s DTC every 5 years. Now, normally this wouldn’t be much of a problem, except that Sharon needs to find a psychologist to approve the application and needs to pay about $1000 to $1500 out of pocket. As Sharon says, “it's unfair the government requires parents to re-diagnose every few years”. The CRA has responded to the situation, saying that it “grants the tax break on a case-by-case basis and that eligibility is not based on diagnosis”
In this situation, we find two major problems: First, someone who has a lifelong disability obviously should not be made to apply for the DTC over and over again. And second, there is no reason that the CRA needs such an extensive diagnosis to be made, to the point where the family is paying thousands of dollars just to get back… thousands of dollars.
Clearly, more work needs to be done on top of the progress already made. Hopefully, those who have disabilities or know someone with disabilities will be an advocate, and we can continue to see continuing progress from our government.