"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More on Learning Disabilities and the Disability Tax Credit

You will recall a previous discussion about the ability to claim the Disability Tax Credit for a person with a learning disability. Well, I just came across June 2007 document authored by the Canadian Psychological Association entitled "Eligibility of Persons with Impairments in Mental Functions for the Disability Tax Credit: What Qualified Persons Need to Know about Attesting to Eligibility" that deals with the learning disability issue a little more.

In recommending that ‘thinking, perceiving and remembering’ be replaced by the ‘mental functions necessary for everyday life’, we defined the functions as memory (simple instructions, basic personal information, material of importance and interest), problem-solving, goal-setting and judgement, and adaptive functioning. Adaptive functioning includes those abilities related to selfcare, health and safety, social skills and common simple transactions. In this way, any disorder related to mental functions which is severe and prolonged and restricts the mental functions necessary for everyday life as defined above, would obviously be eligible (e.g. affective and anxiety disorders, learning disabilities) and not just those defined by disturbances in thinking, perceiving and remembering (e.g. head injury, major mental illnesses, dementia).

No impairment, be it physical or mental, is ineligible for the DTC on the basis of a diagnosis alone: It is very important for qualified persons to keep in mind that there is no disorder of mental function which renders a person categorically ineligible for the DTC. Although it may be the case that some disorders may be, by their nature, less likely to result in a marked restriction in mental functioning as defined by the DTC than are other disorders, the CRA does not rule out eligibility on the basis of the type of disorder alone. For example, many persons with learning disabilities will not have a sufficiently marked restriction in the mental functions necessary for everyday life, as defined by the DTC, to qualify for the credit. However, if someone had a learning disability, attested to by the qualified person, that created a marked restriction in mental function (e.g. the learning disability was so severe that the person could not manage money sufficiently well to make a simple purchase or could not navigate streets signs to travel to a new location) then the person should be considered eligible for the credit.

So remember this, don't let anyone (including a CRA employee) tell you categorically that learning disabilities do not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit. It is the severity of the learning disability that will be the deciding factor, not the fact that is is a learning as opposed to some other type of disability.

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