Accessing & Understanding Disability Assistance in Canada
Living with a disability is challenging enough, but when it prevents you or your family from being able to work to earn a living, staying on top of bills and expenses can be difficult.
Thankfully, there are a few useful forms of disability assistance and support available for Canadian citizens, including the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefits, the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), as well as the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
This page is going to focus on topics mainly relating to CPP and the DTC, such as: what conditions qualify for disability in Canada, how children apply for disability assistance through the Child Disability Benefit (CDB), and the ways you can access these services.
If you’d like to learn more about ODSP, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), and additional disability support resources visit our disability support page below.
Living with a Disability Shouldn’t Stop You from Saving for Your Future
The Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits is a monthly payment provided to an eligible person with a disability. This is designed to help people deal with the costs of everyday life on a month-to-month basis.
On the other hand, the Disability Tax Credit is a credit that can be applied to a person with disability’s income tax when they file their taxes at the beginning of each year.
What Qualifies You for Disability Assistance?
Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits
If you’ve been wondering what qualifies you for disability assistance to access the CPP, we can help give you some guidance. The criteria listed by the Government of Canada are:
- You must have made enough contributions to the Canada Pension Plan throughout your work history (and only applied to the CPP)
- Your disability must prevent you from being able to work any type of job on a regular basis.
- You’re under the age of 65
- Your disability must be considered long-term, have an indefinite duration or must be considered potentially life-threatening.
Disability Tax Credit
The rules for applying for the DTC are somewhat different.
First, a person must have a long-term impairment that:
- Has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months
- Is present the majority of the time (at least 90%)
If a person meets those criteria, they must also meet one of the following:
- Have a serious restriction in at least one of the activities considered essential and basic for daily living (i.e., dressing, eating, continence management, ambulation, etc.)
- Be blind or have serious vision loss
- Require life-sustaining therapy
In Canada, What Conditions Qualify for Disability?
There isn’t a specific list of disabilities that qualify for disability assistance. You can always talk to your doctor if you believe that your disability may be eligible.
Regardless of what your disability may be, if you meet all the criteria that the Government of Canada has set in place, then you could qualify for some form of assistance.
There are some clarifications for eligible disabilities for the DTC listed here.
What if I Don’t Qualify for Disability Assistance?
If you don’t meet the criteria for what qualifies you for disability assistance through the CPP or DTC, don’t worry! There are other resources available to you that may be able to help in different ways.
The most common reasons people are denied access to disability assistance include:
Your disability isn’t considered severe or long-term enough
There isn’t enough information available about your medical condition or employability
You haven’t contributed enough to the CPP fund
Late CPP application (as per the ‘four out of six rule’)
When the reason for denial is that there isn’t enough information, you can always talk to your doctor to have them do a full assessment of your condition before reapplying.
Contributions to CPP are tracked under the ‘four out of six rule’, meaning that in order to be eligible for CPP, you must have contributed CPP for four of the last six years that you were working prior to acquiring a disability. This also relates to late applications, which typically refers to people who waited too long to apply after acquiring a disability ; so that the ‘four out of six rule’ makes them ineligible to receive CPP.
Arranging CPP Disability Assistance for Your Child
Rules are somewhat different when you’re trying to apply for disability assistance for your child. This would normally apply to people who have a young dependent that has a disability.
These resources could be for children under the age of 18, or for those who are still attending school full-time and are between the ages of 18 and 25.
There are actually two types of CPP benefits available for children with parents who have disabilities:
Disabled Contributor’s Child’s Benefit
- Monthly payments for the child of a person receiving CPP
Surviving Child’s Benefit
- Monthly payments for the child of a deceased contributor. For the child to be eligible to receive this benefit, the deceased needs to have made sufficient contributions to CPP
Applying for the Child Disability Benefit
For parents who have a child with a disability, the Child Disability Benefit (CDB) is also available. This is a benefit for parents, who have a child under the age of 18 with a long-term or severe disability.
In order to be eligible, the child must also meet the requirements of both the Canada Child Benefit and the Disability Tax Credit.
For a child to be eligible for the DTC, a medical practitioner must certify a Disability Tax Credit Certificate showing the severity and long-term nature of the child’s disability. The forms can be found here, and must be approved by the Canada Revenue Agency.
How Do I Find Disability Support Near Me?
When you’re searching ‘find disability assistance near me‘, but feel overwhelmed by the different options presented to you, remember: You are not alone.
You can find a great deal of great disability assistance resources through the Government of Canada websites, as well as reaching out to local organizations like Cortree that specialize in helping people with disabilities.
If you or someone you love has a disability, and you need some help looking into disability assistance and what resources are available to you, get in touch. We’ll do what we can to point you in the right direction, and our educational training courses could provide some insight into ways you and your loved ones can make other parts of your life more accessible too!