How to Apply for Disability Tax Credit for an Ostomy in Canada by AJ Leveille
Living in Canada has more benefits than I can list here, but a good school system, solid transportation infrastructure, access to greenspace, relative safety, and healthcare top the charts. Of course, all of these things come with a cost – tax. It can be a tough pill to swallow for some, and traditionally for those living with a serious health condition (including a life altering ostomy surgery) paying additional taxes for essential medical supplies takes its toll. But now, relief is here.
The government has recognized that having an ostomy or disability chips away at your disposable income and corresponding quality of life. They have developed a disability tax credit that can help ease the costs associated with being ill. Below I will outline how to apply for a disability tax credit if you have an ostomy.
What Ostomy Patients Need to Know About Qualifying for a Disability Tax Credit in Canada
Do You Qualify?
For starters, you need to have had your ostomy for a minimum of 12 months, and show that you are restricted in eliminating your bowel or bladder 90 percent or more of the time. You must also validate that it takes you an inordinate amount of time to manage bowel or bladder functions. Basically government health professionals want to see it takes you at least 3 times longer to deal with your bladder or bowel functions when compared to the general public.
Anyone with an ostomy knows all of the above to be true. Changing pouches, maintaining good skin care, blockages, and emptying your pouch all can be used to calculate time put in to maintaining your condition. It just needs to be clear and written on your form when you apply. Your physician will be willing to provide an additional note for you (more on this below) for good measure.
How Do You Go About Getting the Disability Tax Credit?
You need to print off the T2201 form from the Government of Canada website or you can visit a Service Canada Center office near you to get one. Next, you need to fill in the applicable portions of the form, and I would suggest adding a separate personal statement. This can include a listing of the time involved along with the costs and duties you are required to do as someone living with an ostomy. Bring these items into your family doctor or nurse practitioner, pay the fee (typically around $150) and have your doctor sign off on it on page 5. While you have attached the personal statement describing how much extra time it takes to live with an ostomy it is important to have the doctor reiterate your condition, with something like this:
“The patient uses a device to eliminate the bowel or bladder. This patient is markedly restricted in eliminating with a device and takes an inordinate amount of time to personally manage bowel or bladder functions.”
Essentially, the CRA wants your doctor to echo your own claim. Remember, a doctor / nurse practitioner likely doesn’t have an ostomy, so you should certainly sit down with them and help direct the narrative.
In addition, take note that if your ostomy is permanent you will want to state that in the document. Doing so can keep you from reapplying for the tax credit every few years. Be sure to fill out section 3 on the form as is what allows CRA to adjust your taxes going back 10 years (YES 10 years) and eventually send you a cheque!
T2201 Form Completed – What Next?
With the T2201 locked and loaded you can now send off your completed application to the nearest tax center (page 6 of your application has a listing of addresses or visit the CRA website) and wait, and maybe wait some more. If you are denied, reapply. A denied application may simply be the result of insufficient physician wording (remember to sit down with your doctor to make sure they express your need properly) or you haven’t had the ostomy for more than 12 months. If the latter is the case, wait until the required amount of time has passed.
How Much Will You Get?
The amount of your return will vary greatly depending on your annual income.
What To Do With the Extra Dough?
It may be tempting to spend your new found cash on a trip to the islands but remember to invest in your health first. That said, be savvy when looking for ostomy supplies, choosing price competitive providers with the wealth of inventory you need (click here). However, if your provincial health insurance covers the bulk of your ostomy supplies (check here) you may be able to have some fun with that extra money after all – you deserve it!