Shot of a senior woman in a wheelchair being cared for a nurse

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has launched a new digital process for applying for the disability tax credit (DTC) that the agency says will simplify and speed the application process.

“This new digital form can help save time by ensuring it’s complete with all of the required information,” the CRA indicated in a release Tuesday. The CRA said it aims to process DTC applications and mail a notice of determination within eight weeks of receiving them.

However, Shane Nercessian, managing partner of True North Disability Services Ltd. in Vancouver, said he’s skeptical the CRA’s digital form will adequately address delays created when medical practitioners make mistakes completing their portion of DTC applications.

“We often will go back to physicians three or four times to explain errors they have made, and more importantly, explain why those errors need to be corrected for their patient to have a successful outcome,” Nercessian said in an email. His firm assists clients making DTC applications.

In a comment posted on LinkedIn, Wayne MacLeod, a co-founder of Benefits2, a web-based platform that helps Canadians make DTC applications, called the CRA’s new digital form “a huge improvement by CRA to do what I can only assume to be their best at increasing access to the credit.”

With the CRA’s new digital form, applicants can complete Part A online through the CRA’s My Account platform, with the applicants’ portion of the form pre-populated with information the CRA has on file, eliminating the need for them to complete a hard copy of the DTC application form to provide to their medical practitioner.

Once Part A of the digital form is completed, the applicant receives a reference number to give to their medical practitioner who will use it to complete Part B.

Using the applicant’s reference number, medical practitioners can complete Part B through a digital application, with the app guiding the practitioner through the process of filling out the form. Once completed, the form is automatically submitted to the CRA. To be considered valid, Part B of the digital application must be certified and submitted by the medical practitioner.

For DTC applicants who don’t have digital access, or prefer not to submit an application online, an application process by phone is available, either with the support of a telephone agent or an automated voice service, the CRA said.

The traditional hard copy application form and process will also continue to be available.

The CRA said if an applicant has already submitted an application by mail or online through My Account, they should not resubmit using the new digital form.

The DTC is a non-refundable tax credit that helps people with a disability or supporting family members reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. In addition, approval for the DTC is required to access a variety of other important disability benefits and programs, such as the Child Disability Benefit and the RDSP.

Individuals may be eligible for the DTC if they have a severe and prolonged impairment in one or more categories.