The lead story on the CBC National News last night was on Disabilty Tax Credit abuse and the various agencies that have enabled and facilitated these applications.
Most people who claim the disability tax credit are eligible for the benefit.
Many more people with disabilities who would be eligible for the disability tax credit get no benefit of the Disability Tax Credit because they do not have a taxable income. The Disability Tax Credit should be a refundable benefit I know many individuals with disabilities who survive on incomes below or close to poverty levels - if they had the extra refunded benefit - like the GST or Child Tax benefit - that would be a large financial improvement in their lives.
Disability Tax Credit eligibility also determines eligibility for other benefits such as the Child Disability Benefit, the Registered Disability Savings Plan, the Working Income Tax Disability Benefit. It is no longer simply used as a mechanism for offsetting the additional costs of disability for those with a taxable income.
It is easier for those with mobility or sensory impairments to become eligible than those with cognitive impairments in that the evidentiary base is easier to identify and establish- many individuals with mental health, intellectual disabilities, brain injuires, learning disabilities, and episodic disabilities have a hard time qualifying.
Using doctors as the gatekeepers for this benefit is a poor use of an expensive and limited resource. The Canada Revenue Agency should explore other means of gatekeeping this deduction.
This is the message from the disability community.
I am still getting a lot of calls from people who are being reassessed - some are grudge reports to CPP from ex spouses or crappy neighbours, but some are as a result of reported earnings.
Please, if you are trying to work - tell CPP this - it will avoid all of this hassle as well as perhaps avoid overpayments. There are allowable earnings provisions under the Canada Pension Plan and I will find information and post it on the blog - I may even contact a adjudicator in the reasessment department at CPP and see what she says people should do if they want to try to work - or they are working.
The point I am trying to get across is that the Feds will find out if you are working and you have not reported it to CPP. There is some misconception out there that if you are on CPP you cannot work an hour - I was in Ottawa this weekend at the Council of Canadians with Disabiities meeting with representatives from the disability community from across the country and this came up - that you cannot work an hour and collect CPP - it just baffles me that there are is so much misinformation and rumour out there!
Anyhow, back to my point here - if you are working or if you want to work get in touch with me and I can give you some advice or directiion on how to proceed. If you have been reassessed the appeals are different - as I have said before the feds have to prove that you have the capacity to work - they cannot dispute their initial decision that you qualified for CPP, they can only argue that you have regained capacity - and unlike any other appeal to CPP, the onus or responsibility to establish you have regained capacity is theirs to meet. See what I mean - these appeals are not the usual run of the mill.
It is a fearful time for some people when CPP is reassessing your eligibility. Hang in there - and watch what you say and do to your ex spouses and neighbours!
I get a lot of calls at the office asking me how long it will take before CPP decides on either the application or the request for reconsideration.
I have been able to make some calls and I have found out the approximate processing times.
British Columbia Region - Initial Appliation - 25 weeks processing time - Reconsideration - 20 weeks processing time.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan - Initial Application - 20 weeks processing time - Reconsideration - 14 weeks processing time.
Alberta - Initial Application - 26 weeks processing time - Reconsideration - 16-18 weeks processing time.
Ontatio - Intial Appication - 120 days processing time - Reconsideration - 120 days processing time.
I am sorry I do not know the Atlantic Regions.
Also these time spans are averages - they fluctuate according to work loads and whether or not CPP is developing your file by collecting additional information. Note if CPP is developing your file that is a good thing - as it is an applicant's responsibility to establish disabiity - so if the feds are looking into it is not just a straight out denial.
Finally back in the office for three straight weeks - looking forward to catching up and returning calls. Wishing it was spring already.