Many Canadians with mental illness are being treated unfairly by the government. Because their disability is physiological instead of physical, they are being denied some of the same benefits that people with physical disabilities receive. A story published in The Star earlier this year highlights the problems that many Canadians who struggle with a mental illness are facing.
Being Denied the Disability Tax Credit
Canadians with a disability can qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). The credit is a non-refundable tax credit designed to help people with disabilities offset disability costs. Qualifying for the DTC could result in benefits that equal thousands of dollars each year. In addition, qualifying for the DTC also opens doors to other benefits and programs for people with disabilities.
However, for those suffering from mental illnesses, qualifying for the DTC and other disability benefits can be very difficult. Experts say that the way physicians interpret the requirements set by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) for qualifying for the tax credit is preventing qualified applicants from receiving the benefits they deserve. They claim that the CRA requirements favour persons with physical disabilities over a person with mental illness or psychological disabilities.
One physician who treats patients with mental illness stated that the lack of understanding and stigma associated with mental illness prevents patients from having access to services. Another physician with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health explained that there is a misconception that disability benefits are only for people with physical disabilities not for people dealing with mental health issues. She believes that how we define the term ‘disability’ in our minds is a significant problem that prevents doctors from approving disability benefits for persons who have a mental illness.
The problem is significant for those who should qualify for the tax credit but cannot obtain a doctor’s statement certifying the disability. For example, if you qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, you can be reimbursed for credits from past years if you qualified for those years but did not file a claim up to 10 years. In addition, once a person is qualified, that person can claim the credit for a spouse, dependent, or common-law partner.
Once a person is approved for the tax credit, he or she can qualify for more benefits. By denying a person with a psychological disability the right to receive the same benefits as a person with a physical disability, the system is denying that person valuable services and benefits.
Other Problems Faced by Canadians With Mental Illness
Being denied the tax credit is just another problem that many people with mental illness face.In addition, they face being denied for long-term work disability that could provide the income they need to pay for basic necessities. Other difficulties include:
- Access to mental health care and support
- Finding affordable housing
- Paying for living expenses, including food, rent, and utilities
- Being including in mainstream society
- Dealing with stigma and discrimination
- Difficulty obtaining and retaining employment
- Depression and anxiety
- Thoughts of death and suicide
What Can You Do?
If you are struggling with mental illness and you are denied benefits, you have options. You can fight the system to get the benefits you deserve. However, you do not need to do this alone.
The team of lawyers at Diamond and Diamond can help you fight for the disability benefits you deserve. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.