Federal disability benefits

There are federal financial assistance programs available throughout Canada. Please keep in mind that not everyone is eligible for every program.

Topics in this section include:

Disability Tax Credit (DTC)

Please note: if the person receives other types of disability or insurance benefits (such as Canada Pension Plan disability benefits) they may not be eligible for the DTC. Please check the eligibility requirements.

In order to be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), a person will need to fill out a T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate.

To find out if they are eligible, view the requirements for the Disability Tax Credit on the Government of Canada website. Once the certificate and application are received by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it will go through a review process. They will be contacted if their application is approved or denied.

Please keep in mind that applying for a Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Certificate can take a long period of time. Keep a record of all documents and communications you have about the DTC.

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits

If the person was working before their injury, they may be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits. These benefits last for a maximum of 15 weeks (about three and a half months).  On EI sickness benefits, a person can receive 55% of their pre-tax earnings, to a maximum of $573 a week.

If the person is self-employed, or an independent contractor, they may be entitled to Employment Insurance if they registered for Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-Employed People, and meet certain conditions.

Prepare for your application for Employment Insurance (EI)
Applying for any type of financial assistance is always a lengthy process. After a brain injury, people often have memory issues and fatigue easily, especially after putting in some cognitive effort. Do not hesitate to offer to help with gathering the information and with the application process.

The more prepared you are before you start the Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits application, the smoother the process will be. Before you begin, gather all the necessary documents and information you will need to fill out the application.

Applying in person vs. applying online
A person can apply for EI at their local Service Canada office. The Service Canada offices are designed to be a one-stop shop for a variety of government services, including EI. If the local Service Canada Office is closed, they will not be able to apply for EI in person. Many services and resources are now online. While they may prefer to do it in person, they should be familiar with how to apply for EI online.

Many people who live with brain injury are sensitive to screens, particularly in the time period shortly after a brain injury. Being online can be difficult and possibly trigger symptoms of brain injury. If the person is sensitive to screens, prepare to do the application in short chunks of time. They can try 20 minute blocks, followed by short breaks away from the screen. If using screens is not possible, you may be able to complete the application for them.

The EI application does not need to be finished all at once, but there is a time limit of 72 hours (3 days). If you do not finish the application within the 72 hour period the information will be deleted and you will need to start over again.

Here is the online application for EI sickness benefits.

Submitting reports
If the person is getting Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, they will need to fill out a report every 2 weeks to receive their benefits. They can submit these reports using the EI Internet Reporting Service or by calling the EI Telephone Reporting Service at (1-800) 531-7555.

Canada Pension Plan disability benefit

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit is a more permanent solution for financial assistance after brain injury. It is available throughout Canada, except in Quebec. If they live in Québec, please visit the Government of Québec’s website page on pension plans.

The CPP disability benefit is a taxable benefit for people under the age of 65 who are unable to work because of their disability. To be eligible for the CPP disability benefit, they need to have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan AND have a disability which is considered ‘severe and prolonged’.

This means their brain injury must:

  • Prevent them from working. This includes full-time, part-time or seasonal work
  • Have symptoms which will last for a ‘prolonged period’ of time (the foreseeable future). Generally a disability is considered a condition which interferes with a person’s daily activities.

The effects of the brain injury and how they impact their ability to work will be evaluated by the medical experts who review their application. Because of this, it is important to provide medical documentation to show the impact their brain injury has had on their life.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) eligibility and contributions
To be eligible for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit, they need to have contributed to the CPP.

How much they could receive from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit
This is based on how much they have paid into CPP. For current monthly averages and maximum monthly payments, you can check the Government of Canada’s CPP disability benefit amount.
How to apply for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit
They can apply for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit online or through the mail. Please keep in mind that this is a long application. No matter how they choose to submit it, they should take frequent breaks, ask for help, and assemble all necessary documents and information before they start.

If you are helping with the application, the person will need to give written permission to Service Canada for you to act on their behalf.  To do this, they will need to fill out the Consent to Communicate Information to an Authorized Person.

If they have any questions about the CPP application, processing times, or benefits, you can contact someone at the Canada Pension Plan program.

Canada Pension Plan post-retirement disability benefits
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) post-retirement disability benefit is similar to the CPP disability benefit. It is for people who acquire a disability under the age of 65 who have been receiving CPP payments for more than 15 months, and as such are not eligible for the regular disability benefit.

Benefits for children and youth under 25
If you have children either under the age of 18 or under the age of 25 and attending secondary education full-time, they may be entitled to monthly payments from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

Disability benefits for veterans

If the person has served in the Canadian military, they may be entitled to disability benefits for veterans. The veteran disability benefit is a tax-free, financial payment to support well-being . The benefits the person may be entitled to are dependent on a variety of factors, including whether their condition is the result of their service, its severity and impact on their life, and how long they served in the military.

Veterans Affairs Canada has an online benefits navigator which asks questions about their situation and guides them to the benefits they may be entitled to receive.

➔    Use the Veterans Canada benefits navigator

Eligibility requirements for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits
Veterans Affair Canada (VAC) offers many services, including disability benefits.

If they qualify for a disability benefit, they will receive either the Pain and Suffering Compensation or a Disability pension.

How to apply for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits
A person can apply for the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits online through the MyVAC account, or in person/by mail at any VAC office, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Transition Centre or Service Canada office. The application process will take some time. Make sure to take breaks as needed and ask for help from caregivers, friends or a family member.

Get help with the application

The staff at any Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) office or Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Transition Centre can assist with the application. Service Officers with The Royal Canadian Legion or The War Amps of Canada can also assist with the application, including helping get all of the information needed to support the application. Their assistance is free of charge .

Review of the application

Once the application is submitted, you can use this wait time tool to get an approximate estimate of how long it will take to review an application similar to the one of your friend or family member.

Case management for veterans
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) offers case management services to veterans transitioning back to civilian life. This can be an incredibly challenging transition, especially if they are also coping with a brain injury. Case management can be helpful for coping with navigating disability services, financial uncertainty, housing issues, stress, and social isolation .

If they are in the transition process, their transition interviewer may suggest case management. If they have already been discharged but think case management would be beneficial, they can contact the VAC. There is no application process. They will build a close relationship with their case manager as they identify goals, assist with planning services such as rehabilitation and doctors’ appointments, and frequently check progress .

Related programs and information for veterans
Additional pain and suffering compensation
This program is for individuals with severe and permanent disabilities related to their service. It is granted based on an assessment.

Attendance allowance
If the brain injury requires the person to have a caregiver on a daily basis, they may be eligible for the attendance allowance, which helps cover the costs of caregiving. The amount they receive is based on the level of care they need .

Clothing allowance
If the person needs custom-made clothing as a direct result of their injury (such as wearing a brace, splint or prosthetic), they may be eligible for a monthly clothing allowance.

Critical Injury Benefit
The Critical Injury Benefit is a program for sudden, single incidents (such as motor vehicle collisions/accidents and gunshots wounds) that lead to immediate, severe and traumatic injuries or illnesses . The program provides a tax-free sum to address the immediate impacts of the injury.

Exceptional Incapacity Allowance
This program is for people that are severely impacted by their disability, both in life and in finances. This allowance is awarded based on an assessment.

Financial advice program
If they have received a lump-sum from VAC, they can receive up to an additional $500 to get advice from a financial professional on how to manage the lump-sum.

Long-term care assistance
If the person has been admitted to a long-term care facility and have a brain injury acquired through military service, they may be eligible for financial assistance.

Rehabilitation services
If the brain injury was acquired in relation to the person’s military service, they may be eligible for rehabilitation services through Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Treatment benefit
If the person qualifies for a disability benefit, they will be eligible for the VAC treatment benefit. The treatment benefit is a program that provides them with a VAC healthcare card which provides coverage for healthcare services such as hospitals, appointments with specialists (i.e. rehabilitation professionals, medical specialists and mental health providers), medical equipment, prosthetics and prescriptions .

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