Planning for future financial needs is a normal part of most people’s life cycle. There are many suitable options available, depending on one’s goals and objectives, values, resources and, as we shall see here, the people one would like to benefit.
For example, now that students are back in school, families with children in elementary or high school are thinking about their futures. Some are funding Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) to take advantage of the government grants that help to reduce the financial burden of a postsecondary education. Other families with children already in postsecondary programs have made arrangements to make withdrawals from their RESPs.
Another major focus for most families is saving for retirement. In this sphere, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), the season for which is just around the corner, can help us to save on a tax-deferred basis, reward us with a tax refund for our contributions and are the usual vehicle for those savings. However, as of 2009, another program, the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) has been in use. We do not get a tax refund for our contributions, but we never have to pay tax on our withdrawals. The TFSA, in combination with the RRSP, can also help to reduce the amount we have to save from our current earnings in order to receive the same retirement income.
All of the above programs have obvious benefits and are focussed on average, healthy people, but what about our loved ones who are not able to function in the mainstream? A disabled dependent presents extra concern for his or her family with respect to provision of financial support in the future when family income is lower due to retirement, death or accident, for example.
Since 2008, there has been an innovative new program in place called the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). There are very few providers of RDSPs, and they are not as widely advertised as the RRSP and TFSA programs. However, the grants that are available are very impressive: for a contribution of $1500 annually, there is a Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) of up to $3500. For low-income families, an additional Canada Disability Savings Bond (CDSB) of up to $1000 is also available. If the disabled dependent has reached the calendar year in which he or she will turn 19 years of age, then the income test is based on his or her income and no longer the family’s income.
The maximum lifetime CDSG total is $70,000 and the maximum lifetime CDSB total is $20,000. 20 years of contributions of $1500 per year will, therefore, result in a total value of $120,000 without factoring in any investment growth or income. The money can be invested in a variety of mutual funds, with the stipulation that the CDSB money must be retained in a money market fund. Contributions can also be backdated to the inception year of 2008, so you can catch up on the grants for the past 4 years.
Under this program, the definition of a disabled person is anyone who is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit under the Canada Revenue Agency’s guidelines. This is a very broad definition and covers many more disability situations than those one might consider as such.
As with any such program, there are lots of rules and regulations, but the advantages of the program far outweigh the restrictions.
I am happy to discuss this program in more detail at any time to help you provide for the future for your loved ones.
Gary Robertson, CFP has been a Financial Advisor for the past 13 years, helping families to achieve their financial goals in various areas, including Retirement Planning, Education Planning, Estate Planning and Risk Management (insurance). Gary has been a Certified Financial Planner since 2004, and works with clients to formulate comprehensive financial plans that form roadmaps to success. Gary is married with two adult children and his office is in North York, Ontario.