RDSP – Investment Changes

My go-to investment for my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) has been a mix of TD e-funds. They provided excellent diversification, low cost, and a solid long term track record.

I still believe that the TD e-funds are a great product, but now that the RDSP has grown to a respectable size, it is time for a better product.

VBAL (Vanguard Balanced ETF Portfolio) is a one fund solution that offers:

  • Low cost
  • Outstanding diversification
  • Automatic re-balancing
  • No investment decisions required and
  • The ability to beat 90% of the managed funds over time

No doubt some financial advisors will claim that they can choose better products. RDSP’s generally have a longer investment time span than other accounts. The higher cost of managed accounts has been shown to underperform a low-cost product like VBAL.  Managed funds generally cost the client about 1% in fees to the advisor in addition to very high expenses for the mutual funds.

If you are unsure of how much your fees are really costing you over the long term, check out Larry Bates’s T-Rex Score. It is an easy way to visualize the true costs of your fees. If you haven’t started with a financial advisor yet, assume 1% for his fees and 2% MER for the funds for a total of 3%. Compare this against VBAL with a 0.24% MER. Use a 40-50 year timeframe for the RDSP to see the true impact of the fees.

VBAL is a 60/40 (60% equity, 40% bond) portfolio automatically re-balances when the asset mix shifts. It is an ETF that is bought like a stock, so you will need to have an account at TD Direct Investing. TD allows you to purchase a variety of investment products unlike some institutions that lock you into their in-house, high cost products (I’m looking at you BMO!).

Are you worried about today’s investment climate? Consider this a great time to buy as everything is on sale. My suggestion is to buy VBAL every year with your contributions and the government grants and bonds.

For more information about VBAL read the Canadian Couch Potato’s Model Portfolios.

Autism And The T2201 Guide

Are you thinking of applying for or renewing the Disability Tax Credit Certificate? If so, there is a new version of my Autism and the T2201 Guide released with some significant changes.

The T2201 – Disability Tax Credit Certificate has some major changes with respect to the Mental Functions portion of the form.

I really hate giving the Federal Government praise, but the changes are dramatic and make sense. No longer are narratives to describe the deficit in Mental Functions required and the categories have been expanded into a logical format.

It used to be that I recommended seeing a specialist to complete the form for your child, but with these changes it is now quite appropriate to take it to your family doctor. I still recommend that you go to a practitioner who has a history with your child and if that is a specialist then so be it.

As always, this is a do-it-yourself project. No accountants, lawyers, or so-called Disability Agencies are required.

2021 Tax Checklist

It’s that time of the year! Are you struggling to remember all the credits and deductions that apply to Autism? Are you afraid you might let a tax slip slip? Do you want to maximize your tax refund?

This 2021 Tax Checklist is for you.

Of course, if you are concerned that retired politicians are not receiving an adequate pension, then by all means skip this checklist. I’m sure they would greatly appreciate your charity.

If you file your own taxes, this checklist will ensure you don’t miss some tax benefits.

If an accountant or tax preparer completes your taxes, complete this form and tell them what you want claimed.

This checklist is intended for families with minor children with autism who may or may not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). If you want help claiming business costs relating to your Crypto Currency investments, I am afraid you will have to look elsewhere.

New Disability Tax Credit Documents

Two new documents are available on my website today.

The first is an updated “T2201 Guide” which explains how to apply for the Disability Tax Credit for children with autism. There have been numerous changes over the past year including a new form, an online application for the physician and an online tool to guide you prior to your doctor’s appointment. If you need to apply (or re-apply) for the Disability Tax Credit for your child, this document is a must read.

The second is a brand-new guide to maximizing your refund after getting Disability Tax Credit (DTC) approval. There are many misunderstandings about what can be claimed and back dated following DTC approval. This document will guide you through the process in an easy straight forward manner. The Post T2201 Guide can be downloaded directly or from my files page.

Happy Reading!

My 2021 RDSP Report Card

For 2021, my Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) has returned 11.8% and 8.5% over all years since I started tracking in 2013.

Once again, the account has done embarrassingly well. My intent is to demonstrate that anyone without the help of an advisor can easily achieve stellar results with very little effort.

The investments, which have not changed since I opened the account, are a balanced approach using the TD E-Funds and following the Canadian Couch Potato Portfolio.

The Future

The account has now grown large enough to consider simplifying the investments and lowering fees by switching to the ETF VBAL. The overall investment mix will remain about the same but the process will be easier by having a self-balancing, low fee investment product. More about that next time…

Indigenous Support For Autism

The Indigenous Community has some very high barriers to accessing services and support for children with Developmental Delays. These can include:

  • Remote living
  • Lack of access to specialized health care
  • Cultural barriers
  • Racism
  • Inter-generational trauma
  • Specialized services tend to be concentrated in urban areas

It has been rightly pointed out to me that my website is lacking in resources for the Indigenous Community. I will go through some options that Indigenous persons have with respect to obtaining funds and service for children with developmental delays, but what we really need are some real-world experiences. Please comment below this article with your thoughts.

The British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) has more resources than I can mention in this article. I do understand the reluctance of some people to contact a government run or funded society. In this case, BCANDS is an Indigenous run and governed society. They offer assistance with PWD benefits, the Disability Tax Credit, and RDSP awareness.

Jordans Principle is not so much a program as it is a legal requirement to make services available to all other children also available to First Nations. The history behind Jordan’s Principle is complex but the basic principle is that First Nations children must have an equal chance to thrive as other children in Canada. This is examined by looking at Substantive Equality which means giving extra help when it is needed.

The First Nations people may understandably not trust the government to access services and funding. I recommend  The Assembly of First Nations – Guide to Jordan’s Principle. It will explain the process and has a list of the local community coordinators.

For children with autism or suspected autism, services can include Psycho-educational assessments, tutoring services, assistive technologies, and respite. Specialized ABA therapies may not exist in First Nations communities but with funding from Jordan’s Principle, services can be established. Behaviour Interventionists can receive initial training from AutismBC’s BI Online Workshops, ABA principles can be learned from The Autism Support Network – Video Series, and Behaviour Analyst services can be accessed via zoom. The tools exist for determined parents to access funding and set up an ABA program in a culturally appropriate setting.

Aboriginal Supported Child Care is a program which exists to enable children who require extra support to be included in childcare, preschool, and community care settings. This program ensures that culturally appropriate support is offered to First Nations families.

No doubt important services were overlooked in this post. Please let us know in the comments if you know of more resources that Indigenous, Metis and Inuit communities can use.

Do You Still Need An Autism Diagnosis?

Anecdotally, I hear that some families are no longer pursuing an autism diagnosis for their child. On the surface, this makes sense. MCFD is phasing out individualized funding and the new hubs will be doling out services based on need rather than diagnosis.

I would urge these families to reconsider

Firstly, have you noticed that there is a great deal of push back to this half-baked plan? I won’t go into all the reasons why cancelling individualized funding is a stupid move, however a logical person would hope the NDP come to their senses and rewrite this plan. “It ain’t over till it’s over”.

If you had a child with cancer, would you bypass a diagnosis and let a social worker decide what your child needs? Of course not! So why would you do the same for autism?

Do does your child need medication? Do you think a GP is going to hand out high powered meds without a diagnosis?

To get appropriate behavioural therapy for your child you will need a board-certified Behaviour Analyst to direct the program. Does anybody want to take a guess if they will need a proper diagnosis?

Do you have any plans to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)? If not, you should. The DTC acts as a gateway to everything the federal government offers including:

  • The Child Disability Benefit
  • Enhanced Medical Expenses
  • Enhanced Child Care Expense
  • Home Buyers Amount
  • Home Accessibility Benefit
  • The Canada Caregiver Amount and
  • The Registered Disability Savings Plan

It is true that strictly speaking, you do not need a diagnosis to apply for the DTC but trust me when I say that having one will greatly increase your chances.

Mitzi Dean, Minister of MCFD doesn’t care about your child. That much is abundantly clear. That doesn’t mean however that you should give up. Your child’s future is dependent on an accurate diagnosis.

The End of Autism Funding

The long-feared announcement by the MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean has been made. Individualized autism funding will become a thing of the past by 2025.


Is this a good thing?


It could be if the BC government provides a massive increase in funding. However, I’m too old and cynical (or perhaps realistic) to believe that the government is going to get it right. Honestly, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. When was the last time your autism funding received an inflation increase?


Funding for our kids will now be divided amongst all disabilities. For example, a child with Down’s syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) may very well see an increase in funding and that is a good thing. A child with autism will more than likely see a decrease in funding. Given that autism funding was intended for evidence-based treatment, the inevitable result will be poor outcomes which are going to cost society in the end.


One thing is abundantly clear and that is that individualized funding is going away. The government will choose the services and level of support on behalf of your child. For some marginalized families who have difficulty obtaining services this is a huge plus. For families who know how to navigate the system and obtain the services their child needs, this is going to be a huge blow.


The new system sounds great in theory, but if the experience in Ontario is anything to go by, there is trouble on the horizon. Ontario moved to a “needs based” approach a few years ago and it was nothing short of disaster. The result was a massive increase in waitlists and less choice for families. How ironic that BC is following the lead of the Ford government.


Some points that greatly concern me are:

  • The complete lack of consultation with autism groups
  • Less choice for families
  • Fewer hours of therapy available
  • Who will decide the needs of the child? What will be the qualifications of Case Managers?
  • Union wages and accompanying benefits for Interventionists leaving less funds available
  • The possibility that home based therapy may be a thing of the past
  • Will the “needs based” approach allow for Behaviour Consultants to work with the school districts?
  • The possibility of many highly skilled Behaviour Consultants leaving the province if they are not well accommodated in the new system


During the news conference announcing the new system, Minister Mitzi Dean evaded questions relating to funding. This leads me to believe that there will be no real increase although they will tinker around the edges to give the appearance of increases.

For a more in depth look at what is wrong with the plan, The Autism Support Network has put together an excellent briefing.


Previous generations of families fought tooth and nail to get autism funding. You have been warned of the dangers. What are you going to do to fight this? Now is the time to show the government what the new generation of families are capable of.

2020 Tax Checklist

Too many tax credits and deductions to remember? Are you afraid you might let a tax slip slip? Do you want to maximize your tax refund?

The 2020 Tax Checklist is for you.

Of course, if you are concerned the government does not have enough corporate jets, then by all means skip this checklist. I’m sure they would greatly appreciate your charity.

If you file your own taxes, this checklist will ensure you don’t miss some tax benefits.

If an accountant or tax preparer completes your taxes, complete this form and tell them what you want claimed.

This checklist is intended for families with minor children with autism who may or may not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). If you want help claiming business costs relating to your foreign mining exploration in Botswana, I am afraid you will have to look elsewhere.

Autism and the T2201 Guide

Are you applying for the Disability Tax Credit for the first time or renewing eligibility? Do you find the procedures and guidelines confusing? If so, the Autism and the T2201 Guide is for you.

The guide book has been updated for 2021 with some important improvements:

  • Information about the excellent Disability Tax Credit App brought to you by the good people at Access RDSP.
  • Clarification regarding the parent designated to accept the disability transfer from a dependent.

As always information on this website is free! Compare that to the so called “Disability Agencies” which are happy to charge a fortune for something you can do yourself. If you think you need the help of these “experts”, you should first read what the Big Canjun Man thinks about them.

My 2020 RDSP Report Card

The rate of return for my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) for 2020 was 11.9%. The average annual return since 2013 was 8%.

Why should you care?

My aim is to show that someone with minimal investment skills can set up a Couch Potato investment plan and reap the rewards.

Once a year, I deposit my contribution. Two months later, the government adds their contribution. I then re-balance the account to match the TD Couch Potato portfolio which takes all of 10 minutes. At that point, I ignore the account for the next year.

My account is with TD Direct Investing which is one of the few that offers investments of your choice. Other banks may restrict you to their in-house investments which may not be a great deal.

In my case, I use the TD E-funds which have relatively low MERs and I strictly follow the Canadian Couch Potato TD balanced portfolio.

A Significant Change To The RDSP

The number one question I get is, “What happens to my Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) if the beneficiary loses the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)?”

For years I did not have a good answer. The account could be frozen for a short period of time but eventually would be closed with the grants and bonds returned to the government.

Now I have a good answer. With effect from Jan 1, 2021 if the beneficiary loses DTC eligibility, the RDSP account will be frozen. No new grants or bonds will be added to the account, but it will not be closed. If the individual regains DTC eligibility, the contributions along with grants and bonds may continue.

What happens if the individual never regains DTC eligibility?

The easy answer: Leave the account alone until the individual turns 60 and then withdraw funds in the same manner as other RDSPs.

The slightly more complicated answer: There is a ten year holdback for all RDSP accounts. This means any withdrawals will involve a clawback of grants and bonds contributed by the government in the past ten years. This reinforced the notion of the RDSP as a long term savings plan.

The loss of DTC eligibility now means that the ten year window now becomes a rolling time period which does not decrease until age 50 when it will decrease by one year until decreasing to zero at age 60.

Once again this means the RDSP is a long term savings plan with very little use in the short to medium term.

What happens if the individual regains DTC eligibility?

The account becomes active. Grants and bonds may be added as before. If the new DTC eligibility includes the period that the account was inactive, grants and bonds will be available for that period.

As with all RDSP accounts the government will send you a “Statement of Grant Entitlement” which you may use to optimize your contributions. RDSP bonds will be automatically added for the inactive period.

This is a great amendment to the RDSP and the government should be applauded for a positive change for those individuals affected by intermittent DTC eligibility.

For more detailed information please visit a good friend of the Autism Community – Big Cajun Man at the Canadian Personal Finance Blog or RDSP.com brought to you by the Plan Institute who were the drivers behind the RDSP development.

AutismBC Awards

The following is a guest post from AutismBC. There is one week left to purchase your raffle tickets for this worthy cause and possibly win a new car!

Nominations and raffle ticket sales for the 3rd Annual BC Autism
Awards are now open!

The 2020 BC Autism Awards presented by Applewood Auto Group celebrates the people, organizations & businesses that are changing the narrative on autism and inclusion in BC. AutismBC is inviting you and people all over British Columbia to nominate #everydayautismheroes to inspire and encourage others at https://autismbc.awardsplatform.com/. Winners receive $1,000 to support a project that embraces the spirit of inclusion. Deadline is August 28th, 2020.

Awards will be presented in the following categories:

Volunteer of the year: awarded to a volunteer whose work has positively influenced the autism community.
Self-Advocate of the Year: awarded to an autistic who has advanced the well-being of other autistic people.
Inclusive Employer of the Year: awarded to an organization or company that has demonstrated inclusive practices and support for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Regional Community Impact Award: awarded to an individual, program or community group that has demonstrated a commitment to creating inclusive communities by championing opportunities for community members on the autism spectrum. Awards presented in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior and Northern BC. (1 award per region)

Covid-19 has especially shown us how important it is to step up to support our community. You can also support AutismBC with the online purchase of a raffle ticket for a chance to win great prizes including a Nissan Kicks SV courtesy of Applewood Auto Group! (You do not need to nominate to enter) Tickets are just $20.
There are also 50/50 tickets available starting from $10. Proceeds go towards autism initiatives throughout the province. Purchase tickets at https://darelle.com/pp/bdef7o/

Funds raised will go towards autism initiatives throughout British Columbia. Learn more at http://www.autismbc.ca/awards

Apply Now For The DTC And Collect $600

The federal government has just introduced Bill C-20 which will give everyone who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) $600. This money is non-taxable and will be sent automatically to anyone who qualifies.

What if my Child does not qualify for the DTC?

You will have 60 days following royal assent (which should be coming very shortly) to apply for the DTC and receive the payment. The processing time for the DTC will likely be longer than 60 days but you only need to submit the application in time.

What if we are still waiting for the Provincial Autism Assessment?

The criteria to qualify for the federal DTC is not the same as qualifying for provincial benefits. Please read my guide Autism and the T2201 for more detailed information.

Are there any traps I should be aware of?

The T2201 will need to be signed by a qualified practitioner. I would not recommend your family doctor as it is a specialized form. Most doctors will not know how to correctly complete the form for a child with autism. Once again, please read my guide Autism and the T2201 for more information. Make your appointment now! Do not delay the process.

Do not mail in your application. Use the CRA My Account to submit your application and avoid postal delays.

COVID-19 Special

This COVID update has been slow in coming. I wanted to do something other than tell you to wash your hands. Sadly, there is little to report.  MCFD as usual continues to underwhelm us.

They have refused to let the AFU funds transition to the next funding year except in limited cases . It is frustrating to lose out on therapy for your child because you cannot get a Consultant or BI to come into your home.

They have allowed the material funds to go as high as 35% of your annual funds. The deadline of 30 June 2020 for this allowance is quickly approaching.

Autism Funding may now be used for family counselling .

MCFD has some emergency funding available but good luck contacting your social worker.

What should you do if you are just starting out and are not yet receiving autism funds?

The wait time for Sunnyhill is increasing by the day. The latest estimate is 65 weeks from the BCANN website. Your actual wait will be much longer as the COVID-19 restrictions continue to add to the backlog.

I would strongly suggest booking a private assessment. The cost of waiting for a public assessment may be huge in terms of loss of time critical therapy and lost autism funding (i.e. no assessment – no autism funding). Please check with other families in your community or Facebook groups for the best practitioners in your area. The Autism Support Network has a superb Parent Facebook group where you can ask these and many other questions.

AutismBC has a webinar “Waiting for Assessment” which has tons of great information. The cost is free! Sign up as a new member (this is also free!) to get notified of upcoming events.

The Autism Support Network has some outstanding YouTube videos  which are a must view for families with a new diagnosis.

What should you do if you are in receipt of autism funds?

Spend as much as you can on materials if you are unable to spend your funds on therapy due to COVID-19. The Autism Funding Program will allow you to purchase a computer or iPad once every 3 years. For detailed insight into what you may purchase using Autism Funding, consider joining the excellent AFU Families Facebook group.

Some of our kids respond well to online schooling and therapy sessions and others not so much. If your child is high needs and requires in-person sessions the Autism Support Network has some guidelines to follow. For a more comprehensive guide to ABA sessions during the current pandemic, refer to the BC-ABA resources page.

Does your child qualify for the Disability Tax Credit?

If so, the federal government will be sending you an extra $600 . When will it arrive? Who knows, but we will be happy to receive it when it does come.

If your child does not qualify for the DTC, now is a good time as ever to get started on the process. Consult my file Autism and the T2201 for a detailed look at how to get started.

My 2019 RDSP Report Card

Last year, my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) had a rate of return of 14.4%.

Is that a fluke?

No, not really. In fact it’s in line with the industry benchmark. My portfolio is based on the Canadian Couch Potato TD e-Series model portfolio . Last year, the model portfolio returned 14.8%.

It’s important to look at the long term picture. We opened the RDSP in 2013. The rate of return from then to the end of 2019 is 7.2%.

And we care because……?

I have talked with too many parents who think investing in an RDSP is complicated and a professional is needed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can manage RDSP investments without paying for a financial advisor or having any investment knowledge. All you have to do is setup a low cost portfolio (such as the one linked above), add money every year, let the government add the grants and bonds and in the long run, you will be well ahead of those who pay too much for financial advice.

Distributed Learning – Take 2

By far the most popular article on this website was a guest post by Vicki Parnell about Distributed Learning.

The comments and questions have continued over the years and Vicki has graciously answered every one. It’s now time for a short update from Vicki:

Update, February 2020:

The response to this article has been astonishing – almost 7 years later, I continue to receive emails from parents who have found my guest blog and have questions about DL learning. I’m so glad that other parents have been able to find a starting point for exploring school options they may not have known about in the past.

My own children have now finished their public school educations. One graduated from EBUS and benefited from an additional transition year there; the other moved back into the bricks-and-mortar school system (where he received excellent support from his high school’s resource teaching staff). He graduated last year.

Because I no longer have current experience with the DL system, if you have questions about this topic I would encourage you to join Facebook, where there are a number of active communities of parents who are involved in the DL and home learning experience. For example, this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/385597354924709/

 “BC Parents and Service Providers of Special Needs DL and Homeschoolers” is very active and has almost 2500 members on the date I’m writing this update. There you can talk to families whose knowledge of the DL system is much more up to date than mine! 

Some of the information in my original blog is out of date (not surprising as it is now 7 years since I collected the information).  Keep in mind that the best source of information about your DL options is always the DLs themselves!

Combine Your Child Care Expenses

Did you know you may combine all the allowable child care expenses for your family and use them for only one child?

Neither did I! I cannot believe that in all the years of giving tax advice, I did not know this.

Let’s walk through an example:

Your family has 3 children: Robert 15, Adrian 13 and Deborah age 11. Deborah also qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit. The family limit for Child Care Expenses is $21,000 ($5,000 + $5,000 + $11,000). Visit TaxTips.ca for a detailed breakdown of what each child may claim.

Robert and Adrian hang with friends after school and do not need child care. Deborah has very high needs and must be supervised at all times. In this case, the family may claim up to $21,000 annually for Deborah’s child care.

Child Care Expenses are a tax deduction rather than a tax credit, so this is potentially more valuable to the family in question. Please read my page Child Care Expenses for more information.

Many thanks to Jamie Golombek of the Financial Post for bringing this to our attention.

Claim Private School Tuition as a Medical Expense

Did you know that school tuition may be claimed as a medical expense?

If your child qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit because of a mental or physical impairment and you need the equipment, facilities, or staff specially provided by that place for persons with the same type of impairments, you may claim the entire amount as a medical expense.

If your child does not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit, all is not lost. An appropriately qualified person may certify in writing the school is necessary for the reasons listed in the previous paragraph. The appropriately qualified person may be a medical practitioner, principal of the school or the head of the institution or other place.

Save Those Summer Camp Receipts!

Summer Camps receipts may be used for the Child Care tax deduction so hang on to them!

Refresh my memory.  What is the Child Care Tax Deduction?

If you pay someone to care for your child so you can earn an income or go to school, you may be able to deduct these costs from your total income. This is often more valuable than a simple tax credit.  For more information refer to my page Child Care Expenses.

As a reminder, the lower income spouse may claim up to $11,000 per child if they qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). In addition, the normal age limit of 16 does not apply assuming the child is dependent on you or your spouse.

What summer camp receipts are eligible?

Day camps and day sports school may be claimed in their entirety towards your Child Care limit.  Overnight camps on the other hand may only be claimed up to a maximum of $275 per week, if your child qualifies for the DTC.

You may also claim caregivers providing child care services, day nursery and day child care centers.

Anything else?

Remember if someone else pays the bills (i.e. the Autism Funds Unit) you cannot claim it as an expense.

Ontario – How Bad Is It?

I dare you to read the following article and not get mad.

https://medium.com/@MikePMoffatt/one-dads-experience-raising-two-wonderful-children-on-the-spectrum-c92babddcc96

This article was written about an upper middle class family. Imagine a single parent household with two or more kids on the autism spectrum.

File A Tax Return For Your Teenager

Your teenager earns nothing so logically you do not need to file a tax return. Right? Not so fast.

We discussed in previous posts why the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is the best way to save for your child’s future. The key element to the plan is the government grants and bonds (free money!) which is added to the account. The amount added is dependent on the family income.

If the beneficiary of the RDSP is over the age of 18, the “family net income” used to calculate the government grants/bonds is that of the beneficiary and his/her spouse. The income that will determine the grant and bond is based on the income tax return from the second preceding year. (Example: Contribution made in 2019 – net income based on the 2017 tax year.)

In other words, to ensure your child receives the maximum entitled grant and bond, file a tax return when he/she turns 17 (even though the income may be low or even non-existent) so that the grant and bond will be based on his/her low income status.

RDSP Statement of Grant Entitlement

Soon you will receive your annual Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Statement of Grant Entitlement in the mail. For those of us too tired to calculate our annual contributions, the government does it for us. Of course this assume that you have an RDSP in the first place. For those of you who do not have an RDSP, I ask why not? Are you new to the world of autism or do you not like receiving free money from the government?

The RDSP letter will show what contribution you need to make to attract the maximum grant and/or bond for 2019.

I love to hate the government, but this really is a nice touch. They are all but begging to give you money.  

You could deposit more money than required to attract the maximum grant, but for most families I recommend limiting their contributions. There is a lifetime maximum contribution limit and once that is filled, there can be no further government grants.  

You can get more information about the RDSP from my website or RDSP.com.

My 2018 RDSP Report Card

Last year, my son’s Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) had a rate of return of -2.2%.

Is that bad?

No, not really. In fact it’s in line with the industry benchmark. My portfolio is based on the Canadian Couch Potato TD e-Series model portfolio . Last year, the model portfolio returned -2.1%.

It’s important to look at the long term picture. We opened the RDSP in 2013. The rate of return from then to the end of 2018 is 5.5%.

And we care because……?

The point is that anyone can manage RDSP investments without paying for a financial advisor or having any investment knowledge. All you have to do is setup a low cost portfolio (such as the one linked above), add money every year, let the government add the grants and bonds and in the long run, you will be well ahead of those who pay too much for financial advice.

How to get an iPad when you can’t afford it

How  many of you tried to buy an iPad (or other expensive device) using the 20% equipment budget from your BC Autism Funding? You had to:

  • Send in a Justification Form signed by your Consultant
  • Wait for approval
  • Buy the device
  • Submit a Reimbursement for Autism Expenses form
  • Wait for the funds from the BC government

That’s fine for those who can afford to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement, but it leaves the others in a Catch 22 situation.  The result is that the families who most need the device simply can’t purchase it.

Now there is a solution using London Drugs throughout B.C. You will need to follow these steps:

  • Get your Consultant to fill out a Justification for Equipment (JFE) form specifying the model number from London Drugs.
  • Send the form to the Autism Funding Unit (AFU).
  • Wait for the AFU to send a confirmation letter.
  • Fill out the RTP – Service Providers/Suppliers form.
  • Take the RTP and authorization letter to London Drugs and try to find a manager who knows about this program. You may have to try different locations or call London Drugs headquarters for help.
  • The manager will fill out Part B of the form and send it to the AFU.
  • The family will get a message that their computer/iPad is ready for pick up.

I have been told that the entire process will take about three months. If you have difficulty finding a London Drugs store that understands the process, I understand the Cloverdale and South Surrey stores are very accommodating.

Note that the AFU will only allow you to get a new device once every three years.  You can also expect push back if the device you select is too expensive (at least according to the AFU). How much is too expensive?  That is a good question and one that I don’t have an answer to.

Also, please do not use school as a reason for buying the device as the AFU will not approve this.  Your Consultant should be aware of the appropriate words to use.

OK, so that is all a bit exhausting and time consuming, but at least there is now an option for those that need it.

 

10 Years On

Ten years ago, I created a simple website to share my experience with other parents.  I had one aim; show you how the heck to pay for autism therapy without sounding like a bureaucrat.

Nobody else wants to make this easy for you.  We have governments, school districts and bureaucrats who continually create more paperwork and barriers for you, the parent on the front line.

No my child doesn't look

What has changed?

We now have a website!!!  The AFU now has an online portal.  Yippee!

What hasn’t changed?

The money.  We had one minor increase in BC autism funding in 2010. Meanwhile the government is content to ignore inflation and minimum wage increases each year, leaving our children with a smaller piece of the pie. The good people at AutismBC did some research and found the $6,000 funding from 2002 would now need to be $8,017 to address inflation.  The $20,000 funding from 2002 needs to be $29,400 (rather than the current $22,000) to keep pace with inflation.

It doesn’t seem to matter which party is in power in Victoria.  They feel our pain and show their outrage while in opposition and then do nothing when they are in power.

Has anything good happened?

The heartless Harper government gave us the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) which is seriously the best thing that has ever happened for your child’s financial future. If you don’t have one, please check it out at the earliest possible opportunity. If you don’t have anything in your bank account, don’t worry as the government wants to give you free money.

Meanwhile, the caring Trudeau government is sitting on a policy resolution passed two years ago by their own party members to include science based treatment under Medicare. The resolution can be read here.  Please contact your Federal Member of Parliament and ask why this resolution is being ignored.

What is happening at ASDfunding.com?

The site has gone through 2 major redesigns, an online comment section has been added and the site is now friendly for handheld devices. Meanwhile I continue to receive many emails from parents telling me about their experiences.  I can’t begin to tell you how much this is appreciated as I use all the information to refine the website and keep it relevant for parents new to the world of autism.

Thank you for your continued support.  May the next ten years show more progress than the past decade.

Milburn

Finally! Online Access to the AFU

Families have been complaining for years that they did not have timely access to their child’s autism funding.  Some unscrupulous therapists have taken advantage of this fact to extract more funding than the families intended.

The Autism Funding Unit (AFU) has now joined the 21st century. Finally, families can:

  • View and manage their child’s funding
  • View and edit approved authorizations and
  • Submit forms online

The procedure to sign up is only slightly painful.

  • First, you need to sign up for a Basic BCeID 
  • Ensure the parent signing up has signing authority for the autism funding
  • Next, sign up for My Family Services
  • After the AFU gives their approval, you will be able to log into My Family Services.

On the My Family Services dashboard, you will be able to access and manage your child’s autism funding.

The Canada Caregiver Amount

The Family Caregiver Amount has now been incorporated into the Canada Caregiver Amount. It is a good move on the part of the feds as it was an admittedly confusing credit. The different names led people to wonder if they should claim more than one caregiver credit.

The Canada Caregiver Amount is for people who have a spouse or common-law partner, or a dependant with an impairment in physical or mental functions. They now share a common name but you will claim the credit on different lines in your tax return:

For your spouse or common-law partner, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 in the calculation of line 303. You could also claim an amount up to a maximum of $6,883 on line 304.

For an eligible dependant 18 years of age or older, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 in the calculation of line 305. You could also claim an amount up to a maximum of $6,883 on line 304.

For an eligible dependant under 18 years of age at the end of the year, you may be entitled to claim an amount of $2,150 on line 367 or in the calculation of line 305.

If you have more than one child with an impairment in mental or physical functions, you may claim $2,150 for each of them.

Note that unlike other credits discussed on this site, you do not necessarily need an approved T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate to claim this.

You must have a signed statement from a medical doctor showing when the impairment began and what the duration of the impairment is expected to be. For children under 18 years of age, the statement should also show that the child, because of an impairment in physical or mental functions, is dependent on others for an indefinite duration. This dependence means they need much more assistance for their personal needs and care compared to children of the same age. For your convenience, there is a sample letter on my Files page, which you can complete before the doctor’s appointment and present to him/her for a signature.

A doctor’s letter is not required if the child has an approved Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate from the CRA for the specified period.

 

BC Home Renovation Credit

Last year I wrote about the Federal Home Accessibility Tax Credit and neglected to mention that BC also has a Home Renovation Tax Credit.

The BC Home Renovation Tax Credit originally was for seniors, but as of 2016 it was extended to families with a member who qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit. Eligible renovations include work done after Feb 16, 2016 to:

  • improve access to the home or land,
  • improve mobility and functions within the home or land, or
  • reduce the risk of harm within the home or land.

The credit is worth 10% of the renovation cost to a maximum value of $1,000 for $10,000 worth of renovation costs.

Can you claim this in addition to the federal Home Accessibility Tax Credit?

Yup! Just to be clear, you may claim the same receipts for:

  • The federal Home Accessibility Tax Credit ($10,000 x 15%)
  • The BC Home Renovation Credit ($10,000 x 10%) and
  • A medical expense tax credit (with both federal and provincial components), although this is only for mobility issues

Can we claim this credit for 2016 if we have already filed our return?

Yup! Use the form T1-ADJ which is a simple one page form to claim this credit.

How do I claim this?

Visit Home Renovation Tax Credit for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities for more information.

T2201 Guide Version 4 Released

Form T2201 is the linchpin for The Disability Tax Credit (DTC). I cannot begin to describe how important this form is to our families.  Unfortunately some new political realities are making it more difficult for families to apply.

A successful filing of the form T2201 will set your family up to apply for:

  • The Disability Tax Credit
  • The Child Disability Benefit
  • The Home Buyers Amount
  • Additional qualifying medical expenses
  • Home Accessibility Tax Credit and
  • Most importantly, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

It appears that the rejection rate is on the rise.  We have all seen the news stories of families being rejected for the DTC, even if they have previously qualified. At first I thought this was simply a few families who did not fully complete their forms, but it looks like it going well beyond that.

Does This Mean You Shouldn’t Apply?

No!

It does mean that you need to be even more careful about how the form is completed and how your case is presented.

As one of my favorite bloggers (Big Canjun Man at the Canadian Personal Finance Blog) likes to point out; “If you don’t apply, you will never get the Disability Tax Credit”.

The updated T2201 Guide is available for download here. There is some additional guidance how far back the disability can be back dated as well as how to deal with the changing political climate. I strongly recommend that you read the document completely before sending it to the government.  It is so much easier to deal with issues now rather than following a rejection.

Navigating services for your child with Autism is like juggling shape-shifting porcupines.  It's not easy, and you encounter a lot of pricks.

 

%d bloggers like this: