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Stuttering and disability savings plans

piggybank iconIf you receive the disability tax credit you can apply for a government assisted savings plan.

For the longest time, I had a very real struggle. I knew and accepted that I stuttered. It was okay with me because it was a part of me, but not all of me. However, there was always something that nagged me. I hated being treated as different. All I wanted was to be seen as normal. I really disliked the word “stutterer”, even though that is what I am.

I remember in school not wanting to have speech therapy during school hours, because it would mean I was different. I remember in university and college being eligible for bursaries because I had a disability, and not wanting to apply because I thought I would be seen as inferior. I felt embarrassed that people would know I was not like them, than I was different, that I was broken.

Stuttering as a disability

Then, a few years ago, as I was completing my master’s thesis, my supervising professor, Rod began questioning me about why I was so hesitant about being a “stutterer”. His words really shook me and I began to realize that I was a “stutterer” and that it was ok to be one. It was also okay that I apply for grants and benefits that people with disabilities may be entitled to. Last year, I decided I needed to do something. For a long time, I was avoiding looking at my finances head on. I wanted to be a better steward of my finances. So what I did was I got myself a financial planner, who helped me all year long and continues to do so at no charge. They helped me understand the fine print of various bills and told me about different financial items that would be of benefit to me.

Disability savings

One of the items that was of a lot of interest to me was Registered Disability Savings Program (RDSP). I had heard people talk about but did not know much about it and did not think it was for me.

RDSP’s provide government assisted savings is two parts: the Canada Disability Savings Grant, and the Canada Disability Savings Bond. The disability savings grant rewards an eligible recipient with over 2 times their original contribution each year (for example a $1500 annual contribution = $3500 grant). The disability savings bond is available to qualifying individuals based on their earned income - up to $1000 annually without any contribution. The only requirement to open an RDSP is you must first qualify for the Disability Tax Credit and the best part is that it does not affect other benefits, such as Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

After I decided to apply for an RDSP and make contributions each month, I was given $1500 backdated for doing so. That was amazing and something I was not expecting. The backdated amount is based on your income in each year since the bond was set up in 2008.

This year, I decided to add a new career to my portfolio – Financial Planner – and I am currently working towards this. I wanted to share with you all this information as I believe it is valuable to those who identify themselves as having a disability.

How to Get Started

  1. Apply for the Disability Tax Credit
  2. Open an RDSP (with the help of a financial planner)
  3. Determine how best to invest contributions
  4. Set up a regular automatic contribution
  5. Catch up on backdated grants and bonds

 

Further information on RDSPs

Q: Do RDSP and the Grant/Bond affect taxable income?

A: Contributions do not reduce your taxable income (no tax refund). Any withdrawals from the fund are counted as taxable income, but they do not affect other federal government benefits or programs.

Wishing you a financially sound year.

Carolina Ayala is a member of the CSA and is well known world-wide in the stuttering community. You may contact her via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow her on twitter @istutr

 

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