What’s In a Form?
— Zanna Joyce, Financial Information Specialist
A couple of days ago I saw an anguished post on Twitter, about someone who had applied for a study grant and missed getting it because of one piece of documentation. Taken as a whole, the information in that document was generally available across the application. But the funders were firm. They needed that particular notice.
Completing the Disability Tax Credit or Canada Pension Plan application can be like that as well. While on their surface the newly edited forms seem pretty straightforward, careful reading and consideration of the meaning of word choices used by the application writers, as well as the ability to understand the particular purposes of requested supporting materials will lead to greater likelihood that when the application is reviewed it is not rejected due to incomplete information.
What are three crucial features of the best application possible?
- Focuses on the key purpose of the benefit or
credit for which you might be eligible:
- If it is the Disability Tax Credit, it must demonstrate how you are impacted in activities of daily living, even if you have some sort of technical aid such as a hearing aid or speaking device, or mechanical aid such as a wheelchair or crutches.
- If it is the Canada Pension Plan disability, you must demonstrate how you cannot do any job that would garner you a minimum of a year’s worth of their maximum benefit, which in 2019 is about $15,000. So, this is not your previous employment, or your previous salary. While these figure into insurance company benefits, for at least the first part of a claim, Canada Pension Plan has no such distinction.
- Caregiver benefits focus on what assistance people in your life provide to you, such as assistance with daily activities, taking you shopping for necessities, helping you manage your money, etc.
- The application contains clear, objective
information from your medical professional.
- There is a range of medical care providers authorized to complete the forms for you. You should choose from among those whose services you access the one who knows your disabling conditions or health issues the best. That may not be your primary care physician, though if he or she is taking a case manager role in coordinating your care it might.
- While of course your medical care provider knows what the diagnostic terms they might use to describe your situation mean for you, in completing the forms they must expand their explanation of those conditions to make it clear where you fall in the continuum of severity of the condition. For example, if they use the word anxiety, they have to describe how it manifests itself in your life.
- The medical report must include details as to treatments tried and abandoned, and why, as well as information on treatments, including therapies, medication, devices, etc., that are being successfully implemented. If there are any lab reports or professional consultations which underscore the diagnoses or the choice of treatment these should also be included.
- If you have experienced barriers to care, such as living in a remote location or experiencing a new medical diagnosis that influenced the care you received (such as being diagnosed with cancer, meaning that certain medications could not be used while on chemotherapy), or pregnancy, these should also be noted in the report.
- You include a narrative report of your own
- In your narrative, it is important to be very focussed. While your situation may have its precedents in things that happened long ago, it is important to concentrate on the present conditions. While all disability-related benefits and credits are based on the condition continuing for a period of time extending more than a year, when the applications are assessed they will mainly be focussed on whether you qualify at the time of the application, and then once that is established they will review the history to see when your health issues reached the point that it began to influence your activities of daily living (DTC) or work life (CPP-D).
- You might find it effective to work with someone else in writing your narrative, who can help you pull out the most salient and relevant facts of your circumstances that can help to paint a picture for the application reviewer, bringing life to your medical care provider’s report.
- You share this narrative with your medical care provider and point out the places that their objective information or knowledgeable observation might help to bolster your application. It is important to work together with your medical care provider on this, if at all possible. Some providers like to be very independent, some welcome patient contributions – you are in the best position to assess what will be best in your unique relationship.
- If possible, you obtain a copy of the medical report submitted. Again, some medical providers are very forthcoming with this, and will let you review it before it is sent, others prefer not to have that oversight. You have a right to your medical information, but if it is uncomfortable to request it from your provider keep in mind that if you are not approved for the application you can ask for a complete copy of what the relevant authority has on file for you, at which time they will send you your application, any reviews done, and any documentation supporting your file they have received, so you can look it over at that time.
While for the Disability Tax Credit application reviews are typically done using the information submitted, for Canada Pension Plan Disability they will call you to discuss your application. Remember that you can ask for a phone appointment time so that when you talk to them you will have all of your information at hand. Either program may also call your doctors.
Unfortunately, rejection rates for first applications are very high, but there is no data on the completeness or quality of the applications submitted, so don’t be discouraged by that. If you are not approved initially, the relevant authority will send you a detailed letter identifying what information they used to make a decision, and what the rationale is for your decision. Once you receive this letter, you will have a specified number of days to respond. Don’t be offended or upset. Just address their concerns in a stepwise fashion, and be sure to submit your response within the timeframe provided.
While the benefits are large, it can be daunting to go through these applications. Independence Incorporated has highly experienced personnel who can help you from the beginning of the first application though to the appeals process. Call us at 204-478-6644 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected.