There is an interesting article in the Toronto Star the other day about how the system that is supposed to help people with disabilities live creates a wall that forces them to stay on social services by punishing those who try to get ahead.
It’s long been a pet peeve of mine that various governments feel that if you financially support disabled people at sub-poverty levels they will somehow miraculously get well and go back to work so they can eat. All this to encourage a few that may able to work to get a job and get off support services.
Most right leaning political parties are so worried about a few hundred, or thousand, people who may be abusing the system and receiving disability benefits improperly that they don’t mind starving tens of thousands of legitimately disabled people.
There are many levels and types of disability. There are disabled people who will always be disabled who may have periods where they are able to work and support themselves. There are people with disabilities who are able to work part time to supplement their income. There are disabled people who are always able to work as long as they can find jobs that their disability won’t inhibit. And, there people with disabilities who never will be able to work.
The gist of the article is about when those who are able to do some work have their incomes clawed back and lose benefits such as prescription, dental, vision, equipment and other supports. This clawing back benefits is the biggest deterrent to disabled people finding work. If a disabled person with high medical expenses take a job that pays minimum wage for 40 hours a week it is likely they will be removed from disability support services totally. If they have $500 a month in medical expenses, they are worse off than being on benefits in spite of the fact that income portion of the benefits is likely much lower than the wages they would earn.
Revenue Canada provides a tax credit for permanently disabled people regardless of whether they work to help offset the added costs of living with a disability but it doesn’t add up to a lot. The credit is $8,000 but the amount you save on your taxes is based on what tax bracket you are in. The saving for someone in a 15% tax bracket is about $1,200 per year. The saving for someone in a 25% tax bracket is about $2,000 per year. So like every other tax credit, the more likely you are to be able to afford your disability expenses, the more money you will get towards them; the poorer you are, the lower the amount of money you will get from the tax credit.
Regardless of the ins and outs of the Canadian disability tax credit, it’s a benefit, once approved, that will last your lifetime (barring a health miracle) and is not tied directly to your income or your ability to earn income.
Anyway, the article recognises that disabled people have extraordinary expenses and challenges and promotes the idea that, regardless of their circumstances, disabled people deserve to get ongoing help to maintain a decent lifestyle and help with added expenses of living with a disability.