A New Brunswick man with diabetes is calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to make it easier for people with the disease to qualify for the disability tax credit after his claim was denied.
Kevin Dunphy says he was told his claim was rejected because “I don’t consume 14 hours a week taking care of my diabetes.”
Dunphy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes more than 35 years ago and tests his blood sugar levels and administers insulin at least four times every day to manage his disease.
However, when he applied for the federal disability tax credit, the CRA did not consider the time he spends preparing health meals, exercising and managing his stress as “life-sustaining therapy.”
According to Diabetes Canada, most disability tax credit claims made by Canadians with diabetes have been denied by the CRA in the last six months.
“About 80 to 90 per cent of adults with diabetes applying for this tax credit right now are being rejected and that is only happening since May, so it is a real concern,” said Kim Hanson, the director of federal affairs for Diabetes Canada.
Hanson says the the reasons for the recent spike in denials are still unclear but she believes some life choices being made by people with diabetes, such as time spent counting carbohydrates, are not being taken into consideration by Revenue Canada.
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“There are activities that are critical to administering the life-sustaining therapy that Type 1 diabetics needs to stay alive that are not allowable under the 14-hour requirement,” she said.
Hanson says it could be at least part of the reason that more Canadians with diabetes are being denied the on average $1,500 tax credit.
She says the rejections could be an added financial burden for people in New Brunswick, who have among the highest rates of diabetes in the country.
“There are significant costs associated with managing their disease, up to $15,000 a year depending on the therapies a person is engaged in,” Hanson said.
Dunphy says his claim was denied two years ago, so he’s already missed out on about $3,000 in tax credits.
He believes that time spent counting carbohydrates and exercise should be counted as “life-sustaining therapy” under the 14-hour time requirement.
“The economy cannot sustain an unhealthy population, so if we can do something through our tax benefits to provide a tool for those families to increase their income that they can apply to food healthy and exercise, that is a benefit,” he said.