Personal Finance » Tax

How Does the Disability Tax Credit Work?

Living with a severe disability can create significant financial challenges. The ability to earn income can be impacted, and medical expenses can really add up. Even if they are able to work, people struggling with a prolonged physical or mental impairment may have to take extended leaves from work to receive medical treatment.

One of the ways the government helps Canadians living with a prolonged disability is by offering financial assistance in the form of tax credits and other benefits. This article looks at one such credit: the Disability Tax Credit.

What is the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)?

The Disability Tax Credit is a non-refundable tax credit designed to reduce the tax burden on Canadians living with disabilities (or the family members who support them.)

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, to be eligible for the DTC, a medical practitioner must determine and certify that you have a “severe and prolonged impairment in one of the categories (listed below), significant limitations in two or more categories, or receive therapy to support a vital function.”

Eligible categories for disability

  • Walking
  • Mental functions
  • Dressing
  • Feeding
  • Eliminating (bowel or bladder functions)
  • Hearing
  • Speaking
  • Vision
  • Life-sustaining therapy

For example, a severe or prolonged walking impairment must meet the following three criteria:

  1. You cannot walk on your own, or it takes you 3X as long as a person of a similar age who isn’t impaired (regardless of whether you are using therapy, medication, or a mobility device.)
  2. Your impairment is present at least 90% of the time.
  3. Your impairment is expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months (or has already lasted that long).

This is referred to as a marked restriction.

The CRA will rely on the information provided to them by your medical practitioner to determine whether you qualify.

As mentioned, if you don’t qualify for one impairment, you may experience a cumulative effect from two or more significant limitations and qualify for the DTC.

A significant limitation is defined as follows:

Two or more limitations, when combined together, would have the following effect:

The equivalent of being unable to perform an activity or taking 3X longer than someone of similar age without impairment, and; the combined limitation is present all or almost all of the time (90%), even when therapy, medication, and devices are used.

How to qualify for the Disability Tax Credit

Qualifying for the Disability Tax Credit is a two-step process. When you apply for the credit, your medical practitioner must attest to the severity of your disability. Here is a list of medical practitioners along with the disability they are able to certify.

  • Medical doctor and Nurse Practitioner – All impairments
  • Optometrist – Vision
  • Audiologist – Hearing
  • Occupational therapist – Walking, feeding, dressing
  • Physiotherapist – Walking
  • Psychologist – Mental functions
  • Speech-language pathologist – Speaking

Once approved, you need to claim the DTC when you file your taxes in order to receive the credit.

How is the Disability Tax Credit Calculated?

You can claim the base disability amount if you are 18 years of age or older. For the 2022 tax year, the federal base amount is $8,870.

If you are 17 or younger, you can also claim the supplement for children with disabilities. For the 2022 tax year, the supplement amount is $5,174, for a total of $14,044.

Note that you can also claim a provincial DTC credit, but the amount varies for every province. You’ll want to check the updated claim amount for the province where you live before claiming it on your income tax return.

How to claim the Disability Tax Credit

If you are the person with the impairment, you must enter the disability amount on line 31600 of your income tax return.

Transferring the DTC

If you don’t need to claim the full amount to reduce your taxes to zero, you can transfer the unused amount to a spouse or common-law partner or a supporting family member, such as an adult child. (Because the DTC is a non-refundable tax credit, you can’t receive a refund if the credit exceeds your taxes owed.)

Claim for a spouse or common-law partner: A spouse or common-law partner of the person with the impairment can enter the credit amount on line 32600 of their income tax return. (Amounts transferred from your spouse or common-law partner).

Claim for a supporting family member: Supporting family members of the person with the impairment can claim the disability credit amount on line 31800 of their return. (Disability amount transferred from a dependant).

How much can I claim?

You can claim the base disability amount if you are 18 years of age or older. For the 2022 tax year, the base amount is $8,870.

If you are 17 or younger, you can also claim the supplement for children with disabilities. For the 2022 tax year, the supplement amount is $5,174, for a total of $14,044.

What medical conditions qualify?

To receive a disability tax credit certificate, your application must be supported by a medical practitioner and approved by the government. That said, here is a list of some impairments that may qualify for the DTC. The list is not exclusive.

  • Blindness
  • Eating Difficulties
  • Schizophrenia
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Sclerosis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Seizure Disorder
  • Colitis
  • Hearing Disorder
  • Stroke
  • Addictions
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Amyotrophic Lateral 
  • Depression
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Autism
  • Diabetes
  • Psychosis

How long does it take to apply?

The timeframe can vary, but plan for it to take up to six months or longer for your DTC application to be approved. If the CRA requires additional information from your medical practitioner, it can take longer than six months.

Can I claim the DTC for past years?

Yes, you can. If you were eligible to claim the DTC but didn’t, you can go back up to 10 years to make a claim. The amounts you can claim will equal the base amount for the given year. For example, the disability amount for 2018 was $8,235, and for 2015, it was $7,899.

Canadian Disability Tax Credit: Final thoughts

If you, your spouse, or your eligible dependant have not applied for the Disability Tax Credit, speak to your doctor or medical practitioner to find out if you may qualify. In addition to the DTC, you may be able to open a Registered Disability Savings Plan or claim eligible medical expenses.

The cost of living with a disability can be significant, so any opportunity to reduce your tax burden is one you should take advantage of. Also, remember that you can claim the DTC for previous tax years if you haven’t already done so.


  1. Wes

    Dear Tom!
    I applied for this credit 20 years ago. I am 69 years old and hearing ability is 0% on one ear and 60% for another one. I sent full paper work to Revenue Canada sign by doctors and audiologist. For years they try to save my “good” ear for progressive worsening. No success from 90 % went down to 60%. Revenue sent me a letter saying I am not qualify for that credit and this is final and permanent decision. End of the story. One clerk undermine specialists diagnose. Reasons I am writing this R. Canada rules are not black and white and is always person factor who make decision.

  2. John R. McAdam

    I am 65, still working $70,000/year and was diagnosed with arthritis 3 years ago. Have had both hips replaced and hopefully will be fine soon. Still using a cane but heavily relied on it or crutches for about 2.5 years. Would I be eligible in your opinion for 2022 and 2023?

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