Can you apply for Canada’s dental plan? Eligibility rules get update

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Dentists Prepare for Dental Benefit
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Health Canada is shedding new light on eligibility for Canadians hoping to sign up for the federal dental plan.

The agency posted updated information online on Monday about who can and can’t access the benefits.

Eligible seniors will be able to access oral health-care treatment through the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) as early as May, with applications having been open since December for those 87 and above, and to additional age groups in the months since. As of this month, those 70 and older are eligible to apply, with those 65 to 69 able to sign up come May.

While Health Minister Mark Holland unveiled roll-out details on the plan in December, including who qualified, some Canadians were still left questioning if they could sign up.

To be eligible under the plan, Canadians must not already have access to dental insurance, have an annual adjusted family net income of under $90,000, be a Canadian resident for tax purposes, and have a filed tax return from the previous year. The adjusted net income, the government says, refers to a family’s net income plus any universal child care benefit (UCCB) and registered disability savings plan (RDSP) amounts repaid, minus any UCCB and RDSP income received.

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A news release that outlined details said those with dental benefits through provincial, territorial, and federal social programs and who meet these criteria will still be able to apply for the program.

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Insurance through other methods, however, could make Canadians ineligible but it depends on the circumstances.

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What makes you ineligible?

Those who have health insurance through their current employer or from a family member’s plan will not be able to access the CDCP, according to the criteria posted on Health Canada’s website that was updated Monday.

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This will also apply to Canadians that have dental coverage or insurance through a professional or student organization.

The website notes this is also the case even if an opt-out option is available or if no claim has ever been made under the plan.

Opting out of pension benefits — that include federal, provincial and territorial government employer pension plans — however, will allow some seniors to fall under eligibility requirements. Though pension benefits make most seniors ineligible, if you have opted out before Dec. 11, 2023, and can’t opt back in under pension rules, you can still apply for the CDCP.

Those who purchased private insurance, or have access to a family member’s coverage, may also need to look into ending that plan. Canadians with a private plan will be ineligible, but that would change if the coverage is no longer in effect.

Letters have been sent out to eligible Canadians 70 and older for them to apply to the CDCP, which provides a code so they can apply by phone. Health Canada says that those eligible to apply in May will be able to apply online.

The CDCP application process will expand further in June for adults with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate, as well children under 18.

Starting 2025, the government said all remaining eligible Canadians who qualify will be able to apply.

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According to a news release on Wednesday, more than one million seniors have been approved for the plan so far.

with files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield

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