The CRA makes life more difficult for people with disabilities: André Picard

July 3, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

From a Globe and Mail opinion piece by André Picard: People with severe disabilities face a number of challenges in everyday life, chief among them financial - including barriers to employment and additional costs to manage their conditions, from mobility devices through to specialized therapy. 

To ease the burden a bit, governments have created a number of social assistance programs and tax breaks for this growing and evolving demographic group.

Arguably, the most important of these is the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).

The credit itself is modest - since it's non-refundable, about two-thirds of people with severe disabilities can't claim it because their incomes are so low they pay no tax - but it opens the door to accessing a host of other programs such as the child disability benefit and the registered disability savings plan.

That's why it's essential that eligibility for the DTC be determined in a manner that is simple, fair, consistent and transparent.

Right now, it is anything but.

The application process is onerous, requiring a report from a physician (which often has to be paid for), a 42-step calculation to determine eligibility (which, again, often requires costly professional help) and, finally, a review by the Canada Revenue Agency that too often ends with a seemingly arbitrary rejection.

When medical professionals provide a diagnosis - based on rigid criteria, no less - pencil-pushers in the CRA have no business second-guessing a medical decision unless there is evidence of fraud.

Despite the flaws in the process, people with physical disabilities fare pretty well. The old-fashioned notion that wheelchair = disability still persists.

Those with developmental and psychiatric disabilities face much higher rejection rates when applying for the DTC; people with invisible chronic conditions such as type 1 diabetes and autism have been cut off unjustly and with little explanation.

Read more: The CRA makes life more difficult for people with disabilities