Eligibility criteria for the disability tax credit
An individual may be eligible for the DTC if they have an impairment in physical or mental functions that is severe and prolonged, resulting in a marked restriction. Eligibility for the DTC falls under the following categories:
- eliminating (bowel and bladder functions)
- mental functions necessary for everyday life
- cumulative effect of significant limitations
- life-sustaining therapy
A marked restriction means that, even with appropriate therapy, devices, and medication, the individual is unable or takes an inordinate amount of time to perform activities or functions in one of the impairment categories, and this is the case all or substantially all of the time, even with therapy and the use of appropriate devices and medication. The following categories have their own unique criteria:
Inordinate amount of time
An inordinate amount of time is a clinical judgment made by a medical practitioner if they observe a recognizable difference in the time it takes an individual to perform an activity or function in the listed categories, even with therapy and the use of appropriate devices and medication. Generally, that difference must be at least three times longer than is required by persons of similar age who do not have an impairment in the particular category.
All or substantially all of the time
An individual’s limitations are generally considered to exist all or substantially all of the time if the individual’s impairment limits their ability to perform activities or functions in a DTC category at least 90% of the time. If they are not limited at least 90% of the time, the individual may not meet the eligibility criteria.
An impairment is prolonged if it has lasted for a continuous period of at least 12 months or it is expected to last a continuous period of at least 12 months.
If an impairment is severe and prolonged but does not cause the individual to be blind or to otherwise have a marked restriction, the individual may still qualify under cumulative effect of significant limitations or life-sustaining therapy.
A person is considered blind if, even with the use of corrective lenses or medication, both eyes meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The visual acuity is 20/200 (6/60) or less on the Snellen Chart (or an equivalent).
- The greatest diameter of the field of vision is 20 degrees or less.
View the vision video to help you understand the criteria.
To be eligible for the DTC under the cumulative effect of significant limitations category, an individual must have limitations in two or more categories (except life-sustaining therapy) that:
- exist together all or substantially all of the time (generally interpreted as 90% or more)
- have a combined impact that is:
- equivalent to being unable, or taking an inordinate amount of time, in one category
- present all or substantially all of the time (generally interpreted as 90% or more), even with appropriate therapy, devices, and medication
Gerry can walk 100 metres (approximately one city block), but then must take time to recuperate. He can carry out the mental functions necessary for everyday life, but can concentrate on any topic for only a short period of time.
The cumulative effect of these two limitations is equal to being unable or taking an inordinate amount of time in one impairment category.
Maria always takes a long time for walking, dressing, and feeding. The extra time it takes her to do these activities, when added together, is equal to being unable or taking an inordinate amount of time in one impairment category.
View the cumulative effect video to help you understand the criteria.
Another DTC category is life-sustaining therapy, which must meet all the following criteria:
- The therapy is needed to support a vital function, even if it eases the symptoms.
- The therapy is needed at least three times per week.
- The therapy is needed for an average of at least 14 hours per week.
You must dedicate the time for the therapy – that is, you have to take time away from your normal, everyday activities to receive it. It includes the time you need to set up a portable device. For example, you may have to dedicate time for chest physiotherapy to ease breathing or need kidney dialysis to filter blood.
If the therapy requires a regular dosage of a medication that needs to be adjusted daily, the time spent on activities directly related to determining the dosage and administering the medication can be counted in the 14 hours per week requirement. For example:
- checking blood glucose levels
- preparing and administering the insulin
- calibrating necessary equipment
- testing ketones
- keeping a log book of blood glucose levels
If a child cannot do the activities related to the therapy because of their age, the time spent by the child’s primary caregivers to do and supervise these activities can be counted in the 14 hours per week requirement.
For a child with Type 1 diabetes, supervision includes:
- having to wake the child at night to test their blood glucose level
- checking the child to decide if more blood glucose testing is needed (during or after physical activity)
- performing other supervisory activities that can reasonably be considered necessary to adjust the dosage of insulin
However, some activities do not count in the 14 hours per week requirement, such as:
- the time a portable or implanted device takes to deliver the therapy (such as an insulin pump, a CPAP machine, or a pacemaker)
- activities related to dietary restrictions or regimes, even when these activities are a factor in determining the daily dosage of medication (such as carbohydrate calculation)
- activities related to exercising, even when these activities are a factor in determining the daily dosage of medication
- travel time to receive the therapy
- going to medical appointments (other than appointments where the therapy is received)
- shopping for medication
- recuperation after therapy
View the life-sustaining therapy video to help you understand the criteria.
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