Disability Financial Planning –
Ontario Health | Dec 8, 2020
A stroke can affect your ability to earn a living. It can also bring on new expenses. Figuring out what support is available might take some time.
That’s why it is a good idea to get started on taking care of your finances sooner rather than later. While you are recovering from your stroke, family and friends, as well as workplace contacts, can look into what benefits you qualify for.
It may also be a good time to think about the choices you would make if you became very seriously ill. Advance planning is a way of helping your loved ones by making your choices formally known.
Get help understanding your disability policy – the do’s and don’ts.
John, Stroke Survivor
Paid employment leave:
If you were employed at the time of your stroke, contact your human resources department to find out what benefits are available to you. These may include:
- Sick leave
- Short-term disability
- Long-term disability
Ask these questions:
- How long will the benefit last?
- What do I need to do to apply?
- What are the eligibility criteria?
- What is the amount of my benefit?
- What deductions will be taken off?
- Is the benefit taxable or non-taxable?
Provincial/territorial disability programs
Each province/territory has its own way to support people with a disability. This might involve income benefits, tax credits or deductions, job retraining, or programs that help adapt homes and purchase equipment to increase independence.
Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefit
If you have paid into the Canada Pension Plan, you may qualify for a disability pension. Look into this benefit as soon as it becomes apparent that you might not be able to return to work.
Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits
These benefits are for people who are unable to work because of sickness. They are available once your employer benefits are exhausted. For example, if you have used all of the sick leave and vacation available to you, you may qualify for EI sickness benefits for a limited time.
Apply as soon as you decide that you will not be able to work in the short term. EI will ask for the following information:
- Amount of EI payments
- Proof of inability to work from your doctor
- Your employment record for the last 52 weeks
To find out about programs in your province:
- Go to servicecanada.gc.ca
- Click “Employment Insurance”
- or call Service Canada at 1-800-622-6232
Some people have disability insurance through a private plan or through their mortgage insurance or credit card insurance. Check your records carefully to see whether you have any insurance coverage that you can claim.
The following tax credits and deductions are available nationally. In addition, check to see if your province also has opportunities to save on taxes.
Disability tax credit
This non-refundable tax credit reduces your taxes. You will need a proof-of-disability certificate completed by a qualified professional such as a doctor. This must be approved by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) before you can receive the credit. To learn more go to cra-arc.gc.ca or call 1-800-959-8281.
You or your spouse can claim medical care expenses that are not covered by health plans. There is a limit to the amount you can claim. Keep all medical receipts and claim them at tax time.
Expenses related to medical care that may be tax deductible include:
- Dental costs
- Transportation expenses
- Costs of rehabilitation therapy
- Alternative or complementary treatments
- Preventive, diagnostic and other treatments
- Premiums paid to a private health insurance plan
- Expenses for adapting your home to your disability
- Medical devices and equipment such as wheelchairs or orthotics
- Payments to medical practitioners, testing facilities and hospitals
To learn more go to cra-arc.gc.ca/medical/ or call 1-800-959-8281.
Your healthcare team may recommend the purchase of equipment or additional therapy sessions. There may be programs available to help with these costs.
Extended health benefits
You may have extended health benefits through your employer or your own personal extended healthcare plan. Be sure to ask:
- What benefits are available and what are the funding criteria?
- What are the funding limits?
- Will it cover costs of equipment? If so what equipment and how much?
- Will it cover costs of therapy? What kind (for example, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, speech therapy)?
Some provinces/territories have programs that pay for assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs and canes. Find out what is available in your province/territory. To learn more:
- Check your province or territory’s website
- Ask members of your healthcare team
Where to get support:
- Your bank
- The social worker on your team.
- Your financial planner or accountant
- The human resource contact with your employer
- Community organizations with volunteer tax preparers
Planning is crucial, don’t procrastinate. Have the conversations with your family.
Millie, Stroke Survivor
Having a stroke raises difficult life issues. You may feel that it is time to do some advance planning. Advance planning means setting out how you would like your personal care and finances managed, should you be unable to communicate your wishes in the future. It requires that you talk with family and friends, as well as your healthcare team, your financial advisor and a legal professional.
Each province/territory uses different terms and has different legal requirements for advance planning. There are many resources available to help you and your family through this process.
There are three things that you can put in place in case you have another stroke or a condition that is more disabling or life limiting:
- Select a representative or substitute decision maker for health care and financial decisions.
- Create a plan for your health and personal care should you be unable to communicate your wishes (a living will).
- Make a will for the distribution of your estate if you die. This is called estate planning.
1. Select a representative or substitute decision maker
This is a person you trust (or it could be more than one person) whom you ask to act on your behalf, should you be unable to communicate or make decisions about your health care and finances.
It is up to you to decide who you could ask to carry out this responsibility. Choose someone who will honour and respect your wishes.
You can ask the same person to make all decisions, or you may ask different people to carry out different decisions. For example, you might ask one person to carry out your wishes about your healthcare and a different person to handle your finances.
Once you decide who will represent you, it is important to communicate your wishes clearly with that person and make sure you are understood.
Once you decide who will represent you, it is crucial to share your wishes until you feel you are understood.
2. Create a living will for your personal care
Advance care planning is a process of reflection and communication. It is a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future healthcare preferences in the event that you are not able to communicate with them. This might start as a conversation, but you should put your wishes in writing. Here are some helpful steps.
- Think about what is right for you. Ask yourself: what are my values and beliefs? What do I know about end-of-life care? What is important to me?
- Learn more about the medical procedures that might be offered near the end of life. Some might improve your quality of life. Others might only prolong life. Different people have different thoughts about these procedures. Decide what you think.
- Talk about your wishes with your representative, family members and friends who are important to you.
- Write down your wishes or make a recording or video. There are also forms available in most provinces and territories. Each of your substitute decision makers should have a copy. Share your written wishes with your healthcare team, your family and close friends.
- Review your plan regularly to make sure it reflects your wishes, especially if something in your life changes. Communicate any changes to your representative.
3. Plan your estate
Estate planning means writing down how you would like to transfer your property, money and other assets at the end of your life. This usually takes the form of a legal document such as a will. You may need the help of a lawyer to finalize it.
Where to get support:
- Search for “advance care planning” on your provincial/territorial government’s website
- Consult a lawyer, bank professional and doctor for advice in the various areas
Checklist for your personal documents
Use this checklist to help you collect and organize important records, documents and instructions that you and your representative may need:
- Legal will
- Birth certificate
- Life insurance policy
- Health insurance policy
- Safe deposit box location
- Social Insurance Number
- Real estate or rental papers
- Car insurance and registration
- Advance care plan or living will
- Bank account information and passwords
- Name and contact information for your substitute decision makers
As a financial advisor at Desjardins I look forward to meeting you and understanding your goals and needs.
As a professional in the field of insurance and investments, my understanding of people's goals and aspirations has created a lasting bond over two decades. The key to their success has been my passion for excellence.