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Many view the Canada Pension Plan as something for the "later years", what many don't realize is that part of the CPP is the disability benefit, and that big percentage of the claims are from individuals in their 30s and 40s as a result of an accident. That's why its important that you know and understand this valuable safety net program.

Akiva Medjuck of National Benefit Authority about Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability

If you are a disabled person in Canada, there are many resources available to you at both the provincial and the federal level. If you suddenly find yourself unable to work due to a long-term or permanent disability, you could be eligible to access the pension you have been paying into throughout your working life. If you have been employed, your CPP contributions have been deducted from your paycheques. If you are self-employed, your contribution is included in the taxes you pay – either way, it’s based on your income, so the longer you’ve been in the work force, the higher it’s going to be.

The basic federal disability benefit is $453.52, and is a fixed amount for all recipients. Your CPP contributions are what will make up the difference in what they will pay you. The total amount you will receive will be somewhere between the minimum of $841.95 and a maximum of $1212.90. If the disabled applicant has a dependent child, the child may be eligible to receive an additional monthly amount of $228.66.

Apply for the CPP disability benefit as soon as you know that a disability is of issue. The date your application is received will be the date your benefits are prorated to, so it is definitely advantageous to apply as soon as possible. The requirements state that you must be under sixty-five years of age, and you must meet the definition of a ‘severe and prolonged’ or terminal medical condition. Conditions that would apply under these circumstances are:

  • Late stage cancers
  • Cancer that has a terminal prognosis
  • Severe head injuries
  • Any mental or physical disabilities that prevent you from working in any significant capacity

In defining ‘prolonged’, at least for the purposes of this program, it will be determined that the disability is expected to last indefinitely, or for an extended period of not less than one year, or is likely to result in the eventual death of the applicant. Your doctor must complete the medical portion of the application, which will be assessed by the program’s adjudicators, who will consider several factors when reviewing your condition. These factors include:

  • The nature of your medical condition as well as the severity
  • The impact of your condition on your ability to work
  • The impact of treatment on your ability to work
  • Your long-term prognosis
  • Age, work history, education and other personal details that may be a factor
  • Your income, productivity and your overall work performance

The adjudicators are qualified health care professionals, including nurses who have extensive knowledge in CPP legislation, and are supported by physicians and specialists who provide expert advice on complex medical issues. Some other things to note about the CPP Disability benefit program:

  • You may still be eligible to receive benefits even if you are already receiving disability benefits from another source, insurance or otherwise. The amount may be adjusted for this reason, but it does not disqualify you
  • You must be under the age of 65 and not yet receiving your Canada Pension benefits, or have been receiving them for less than fifteen months.
  • You meet the contribution requirements

For further information on how to apply for the CPP Disability Benefit, visit the service Canada website.

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Disability Tax Credit

For those who live with disabilities every day, the Canadian Disability Tax Credit is something to consider. Available to disabled persons as well as supporting family members and full time caregivers, it can be very helpful in offsetting the often-prohibitive costs of daily care. Rather than a regular monthly payment, such as would be received through OSDB or the Canada Pension Plan, this credit is applied against income tax, and when first approved for can be received as a lump sum payment that covers up to ten years retroactively.

The credit amounts to approximately $1165 per year, with an additional supplement of $680 for those under the age of eighteen. It differs from other provincial and federal tax credits commonly filed with a return in that it must be applied for prior to filing, and cannot be claimed until it has been approved by the CRA. Statistically, almost ninety percent of eligible applications are approved, and most candidates will receive their decision within eight weeks.

Offered to those whose disabilities are expected to last or has lasted twelve months or more, the Disability Tax Credit applies to those with physical and/or mental disabilities that have resulted in a marked and severe loss of the ability to perform normal, daily functions such as walking and talking, or for those with severe visual or hearing impairment.

Disabilities that fall into this category could include the following

  • chronic pain disorders
  • paraplegia
  • quadriplegic paralysis
  • hearing loss
  • debilitating mental disorders
  • etc…

In short any condition that gets in the way of performing simple daily tasks such as dressing or feeding oneself, taking medications or using the toilet may qualify. The degree of impairment is considered as well, and is defined as either markedly restricted or significantly restricted. In the case of ‘marked’ restriction, it is assumed that an inordinate amount of time is required to perform basic daily living activities at least ninety percent of the time, or that the disabled person cannot perform these tasks on their own. ‘Significant’ restriction implies that the applicant may not quite meet the definition of ‘marked restriction’ but is still substantially restricted most of the time.

The application form contains a self-assessment quiz that can help determine which category the applicant falls into, and should be completed by anyone who is considering applying for benefits under this program. But one thing you should keep in mind, even if you feel that you might not qualify, you should consider approaching one of the companies from the Association of Canadian Disability Benefit Professionals, National Benefit Authority the Company I founded, is the original founding member of this Association.

The application is in two parts, and it is necessary for a qualified physician to complete and sign the medical portion. Though the process may seem daunting, it is well worth the effort for those suffering with long-term issues. In fact, it is a requirement for certain other disability benefits, including the RDSP (registered disability savings plans), Canada Disability Savings Grants and Disability Bonds.

Those who receive ODSP or disability payments through the Canada Pension Plan, Quebec Pension Plan or WSIB (workman’s compensation) are not necessarily entitled to receive a Disability Tax Credit, as these programs all have differing criteria, such as the individuals ability or inability to work. The application is available as a printable PDF download or a form-fillable PDF which can be completed on line, and is also available in braille, large print and even MP3 audio for the visually impaired. Access the Disability Tax Credit application anytime by visiting the CRA website.

Consider Applying yourself, but if you feel the need to have a helping hand of a professional you are always welcome to use our free consultation service by National Benefit Authority.

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5 important points to consider when purchasing life insurance

The decision to purchase life insurance could be the single most important choice you make with regard to your financial security. The peace of mind that comes from knowing that your needs will be taken care of throughout the duration of your life is priceless, and being able to leave something behind for your loved ones assures that they will be cared for in your absence. Of even greater importance is making sure you are purchasing the right type of insurance, and that your policy covers your needs. Here are some important points to consider:

  1. Why are you purchasing life insurance? Most are hoping to assure the financial security of loved ones, or looking for coverage to fulfill debt obligation and costs associated with final arrangements and estate costs. Additionally, life insurance is often required when negotiating a mortgage, or as part of a business partnership agreement. All of these factors will contribute to how your policy is structured.
  2. How much life insurance coverage do you need? Know how much is enough to provide for your family in case the unthinkable occurs. Tax considerations, outstanding debt, mortgages, estate costs, and the level of income you want to leave to your loved ones should all be taken into account. Your financial advisor can help you to break down and identify your needs over the long term.
  3. How much can you afford? Life insurance requires that you renew on an annual basis, and is generally paid monthly. Average budget for life insurance ranges from five to ten percent of ones annual income, but depending on what type of coverage is chosen, premiums can change dramatically, especially at the end of term. Plan to have a little financial cushion to allow for premium changes over time.
  4. What type of life insurance is right for you? Term or permanent life insurance are the two main types. The purpose of term life insurance is for support in the short-term, and premiums increase as you age. Permanent life insurance provides lifetime coverage and can include additional benefits. The premiums for permanent coverage do not increase over time, and so may be more affordable in the long run. There are also hybrid plans that combine aspects of both term and permanent life insurance.
  5. Need more flexibility? Insurance riders serve to customize your policy, providing coverage that is specific to your individual needs. Riders can provide the insured with a Plan B to assure peace of mind in case of unforeseen events. Examples of common riders are waiver of premium, which covers your payments in the event you are unable to work due to a critical injury, or guaranteed insurability, which allows the insured to purchase additional insurance at a later date, without being obliged to undergo further medical. Other riders include critical illness, accidental death, child protection, return of premium, and accelerated death.

There is no cookie-cutter answer to what the ‘right policy’ is, as needs differ greatly from person to person, and it is never too soon to consider getting started. Prepare for the unexpected, and give yourself some peace of mind, knowing that you and your loved ones are taken care of in any event. Consult your financial advisor today to discuss your options.

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An RESP stands for a Registered Education Savings Plan, it is an account that is designated towards helping families and friends save for a child’s post-secondary education.

Education - Formulas on a blackboard.

Mistake #1 – An RESP is too risky of an investment for me

An RESP is not an investment, it is merely an account designated by the government as a plan to provide financial assistance to children attending post-secondary education. An RESP has several features which include additional contributions made by the government and tax efficient withdrawals.

Mistake #2 – There is no flexibility when it comes to making payments and choosing an investment

If you want full flexibility in controlling how much can be put into the account, and changing your level of payments over the years, you should stay away from “Group” RESPs and opt for a “Family” or “Individual” RESP. Family or Individual RESPs allow the contributor to control how often, and how much money is put into the RESP account. They also allow for a wide variety of investment types to be held in the account such as mutual funds, stocks or interest paying investments.

Mistake #3 – There’s a chance my child won’t pursue post-secondary education, I don’t want to lose all the money I put in.

Through an Individual or Family RESP Plan, you have the option of withdrawing the money contributed by you. Any money put in by the government will have to be returned back to the government. Contributors can choose to roll over the full amount remaining in the account to their RRSP without any penalty. If contributors wish to withdraw the money as cash, they will be subject to income tax on all withdrawals.

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RDSP Grants & Bonds

The steady increase in the number of the accounts opened in the seven years after the introduction of the Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP) in 2008, shows the potentials that these plans possess in making a difference for Canadians facing grave financial obstacles. As at the end of March 2014, over 78,000 accounts had been opened by Canadians out of an estimated 550,000 eligible Canadians. The current number of accounts represents only 14% of those eligible.

It’s usually a surprise to disabled people when they find they can get thousands of dollars even when they don’t make any form of contributions to their own plans, one recurring comment that all advocates hear is that “there must be a catch.”

What is an RDSP?

RDSP are assisted savings plans created particularly to give financial security to those with disability. It is similar to RESP, Registered Education Savings Plan, in that until withdrawal of funds, the growth inside the plan is allowed to grow sheltered from tax. Federal grants and savings bonds further boost contributions providing on a yearly basis, depending on income, up to $4,500 per year, up to a lifetime limit of $90,000.

Who is eligible?

Disabled adults can set up plans for themselves while parents or guardians of disabled children can set up plans for them, the applicants must meet 3 basic conditions to be eligible for an RSDP account. Applicant must be a Canadian resident with a social insurance number (SIN), eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC), ensuring that plans only get set up for those with a severe and ongoing physical or mental impairment and under the age of 60 as at the time of making the contributions. Only one RDSP account can be setup per person.

How do they work?

Once the RSDP account is set up for a beneficiary, provided the plan holder gives a written consent, anyone can make contributions to the plan. The rules allow the plan holder to strategically plan contributions in order to optimize matching government bonds and grants.

The government provides grant up to $3,500 yearly depending on how much is contributed and family income. A bond of up to $1,000 is added yearly for lower-income Canadians with RDSP, by the federal government. This money has to remain in the plan for a minimum of 10 years.

There’s a lifetime contribution limit of $200,000 aside bonds and grants, though, there are no annual limits on the amount that can be put into the plan. Dec 31 is the deadline for contribution each year. A tax-free rollover of company pension plan money, RRSP or RRIF to an RDSP can be arranged by parents or grandparents of a disabled child or grandchild when parent or grandparent dies.

What are the criteria for grants and bonds?

Assuming that the maximum $90,000 of federal grants and bonds are received in those 20 years and the plan is in place for another 10 years (to avoid any repayment issue) an RDSP could grow to be over $300,000, assuming a modest return of 5 per cent per year over the 30 years.

In one year, an RDSP can receive a total of $3,500 in CDSGs (Canada Disability Savings Grants) and over a lifetime of the RDSP’s beneficiary, a maximum total of $70,000. For an $87,123 net income family in 2013, the grant is equivalent to the first $1,000 contributed to a $1,000 a year maximum. The grant is sweetened for below $87,123 net income families. Ottawa contributes $1500 on the first $500 contributed while they add in $2000 on the next $1,000 so that a contribution of just $1,500 results in a yearly maximum grant of $3,500.

The RDSP gets a $1,000 bond yearly, for families with incomes up to $25,365, whether or not the RDSP holder got any contributions that year in Canada Disability Savings Bond. The grant disappears proportionately for incomes between $25,365 and $43,561until it totally disappears at incomes over $43,561. For bond payments, the lifetime limits is $20,000. Thresholds are inflation-adjusted yearly.

It’s the child’s parents’ or guardians’ net income that is the key figure for RDSP beneficiaries under 18 years while for plan holders 18 or older, the key figure is their own family income, whether or not they are currently living with their parents. A 10-year carry forward of unused bond and grant entitlement is allowed by Ottawa for anyone just opening a plan.

The bottom line is that every disabled adult should apply for the disability tax credit, file tax returns set up an RDSP and apply for bonds and grants, whether they have any income or not. The money can really add up. Here’s one example: A low-income family contributes $1,500 a year for 20 years to an RDSP for a total contribution of $30,000. Assuming that the maximum $90,000 of federal grants and bonds are received in those 20 years and the plan is in place for another 10 years (to avoid any repayment issue) an RDSP could grow to be over $300,000, assuming a modest return of 5 per cent per year over the 30 years.

How are funds withdrawn from an RDSP?

Grants and bonds may have to be repaid if they were not in the plan for at least 10 years. The rule for repayment is that: for every $1 withdrawn, $3 of the bonds or grants paid in the previous 10 years must be paid back. Payments of disability assistance may be made from an RDSP any time.

Do RDSP withdrawals affect other benefits?

The part of the RDSP withdrawal that originates from contributions is not taxable while the part that originates from bonds, grants and growth is taxable.

The good news here is that the beneficiary’s entitlement to any federal income-tested benefit is not reduced by payments, like the guaranteed income supplement, the federal sales tax credit and the child tax benefit. In addition, a lot of territories and provinces declare a total or partial exemption of RDSP income and assets from provincial income tested support programs.

Want to find out more info about this great program, contact me and i will gladly provide you with any additional info you require, and / or assist you in opening RDSP account for yourself or your disabled child.

Don’t go to the bank, speak to the The RDSP Expert.


All information provided was taken from Employment and Social Development Canada website, which is a reliable source and is believed to be accurate, however we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Certain conditions apply please contact your financial advisor for personalized financial advice.

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Lianne Castelino speaks to Cynthia Caskey, CFA, Vice-President, Portfolio Manager & Sales Manager, TD Waterhouse Private Investment Advice to get some tips on options parents should consider before filing their taxes in order to maximize their tax return and refund for their children.

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The benefits of an RESP, considering specific deductions at source, and more, Ms. Caskey breaks it down in simple terms, offering advice for both parents and grandparents and how they can make the best use of their tax refund for their children and grandchildren, rather than simply ‘spending or splurging’.

Lianne Castelino interview with Cynthia Caskey, CFA
Vice-President, Portofolio Manager & Sales Manager
TD Waterhouse Private Investment Advice

Cynthia Caskey Bio


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Seeking credit limits one’s potential for greatness.  There I said it.  Now let us discuss.

Over the years, I have been often awestruck at the lengths people will go to — to seek, solicit, garner, confirm, take and get credit for things they have done.

There is not a soul on the planet who does not appreciate recognition or a reward for a job well done, however, there should be credit limits.  Positive reinforcement is a wonderful thing, but let’s not get carried away.

As a television journalist, I have seen and heard things over time that usually make me think or say aloud — ‘Let’s be realistic now.  He or she is not saving lives here.”  This of course referring to someone who thinks they have done something phenomenally brilliant and need to have their ego stroked to the enth degree for something that is truthfully just ‘part of the job’ or ‘a basic function of being an awake and alert human’.

I’ve worked with on-air people over time who would slide into a depression or get downright upset if they were not recognized at the grocery store or anywhere else for that matter.  This attitude stemming from a

Parents, in my opinion, are the farmers holding on to these powerful seeds.  Depending on how they are sown, credit craziness can and often does ensue. wicked blend of ego and insecurity.  Again, though, the desire for credit or recognition is what often fuels them, rather than the desire to ‘do the right thing’.

During the course of my recent interview with international best-selling author, mother, grandmother, speaker and noted parenting expert Barbara Coloroso, she said something that really struck me.  “Stroke the deed, not the kid.”  I had never heard it put so succinctly before.  I thought to myself, ‘need to write a blog about that.’  And here we are.

Giving a child a reward for making their bed, as an example, is a behaviour that a parent should question.  Ask yourself why does Johnny need a gift for something that is a basic responsibility.

Stroke the deed, not the kid.

By validating the kid, not the deed, you end up (in my opinion) creating teeny tiny monsters who end up growing into bigger monsters — some of whom you may be working or worse, some of whom may be your boss.  Over time, and it will likely happen quickly, a child will carry out tasks only to be rewarded, or worse, they will only focus on those tasks where he/she thinks a reward awaits.

Adults who are credit-hungry and credit-seekers are usually the worst leaders, but of course, don’ know it cause they are too darn busy fuelling up on getting credit.  For many, the desire to get recognition again and again, thwarts true greatness and limits their potential — because they are too focused on ‘getting their ego stroked’.

I have dealt with legions of adults who fall into this category.  I can spot them a mile away.  They are most exhausting.  At the end of the day though, I tend to feel sorry for them because, contrary to the perception, their self-esteem clearly lingers in the gutter — if they need to be recognized and rewarded for every little thing.  Save a life, and then we can talk.

I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Canada’s Warren Buffet — Dr. Prem Watsa speak during my sisters’ Executive MBA graduation ceremony last April. Mr. Watsa is a billionaire, but you would never know it.  He is a huge philanthropsit, but you would never know it.  The humility this man carries himself with is simply astounding and so rare these days.  He spent a large portion of his address to the students talking on just this point — the power of humility, resulting from the desire to give for the sake of giving and expecting nothing in return.  A powerful lesson for a parent to teach a child, indeed.

Stroke the deed, not the kid.

It PAYS dividends.

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If you go into any child’s room today you will find it hoarded with toys. Parents buy
their children too many toys for a number of reasons:

  1. Guilt, as parents feel guilty for not spending time or giving needed attention to their children.
  2. Advertisers take advantage of parental guilt as a source for sales.
  3. Competitiveness and keeping up with the Joneses. Parents will buy any toy for their children
    because “all other kids have it. How can I not buy it for my kid? He might feel
    isolated of the other kids”.
  4. Perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Some parents think they can have it all, and that
    they can give everything to their children.

Psychologists believe that too many toys does not allow for the full development of children’s imagination.  They prohibit the full exploration of a
toy, and causes children to be superficial.

But before parents control buying toys for their kids, they need to control their own consumption. Think, how many things you
buy that you do not need? How many shirts you have? Pairs of shoes? Cars?
Parents are caught in a vicious circle of work-buy-work-buy encouraged by
advertisements that transfers any want to a need. In industrial countries like
USA and Canada, the government encourages this cycle for more income and sales

Parents find it extremely hard to stop their
consumer habits, not only because media set new values and create needs, but
also because of a psychological need to impress others with symbols of higher
social class.

Consumerism and material possessions divert the individual from the true meaning of
happiness and the value of relationships, and keeps people further from
achieving self actualization. Brand names do not have a value in themselves,
but they are social signals that some people use to identify themselves and
find like-minded people. Many parents use their children as status symbols by
dressing them in brand clothing and enrolling them in ‘classy’ activities like
music and foreign languages. Adult children of such parents grow up feeling
entitled to what they have and do not develop readiness for hard work.

Consumer mentality makes us feel insecure with low self worth, even the most affluent of
us.  The more we have, the more we
need. We find that excessive seeking-wealth nations suffer of higher rates of
mental disorders. They deal with artificial needs and place high value on
money, possessions, looks and fame instead of connecting and sustaining meaningful

To avoid the trap of consumerism we need to know who we are, what we value and
what creative activities fulfill us, and value relationships.

Dr. Maha Broum, author of ‘Parenting under Stress’ works as a parent/student guidance counselor in Mississauga, Ontario,

Visit the book’s website at:;
follow its page on Facebook: under stress; follow us on
Twitter: Parenting Stress.

Watch WhereParentsTalk video interview with Dr. Maha Broum