At True North Disability Services, we often hear the question, “Is ulcerative colitis a disability in Canada?” “Could my IBD really qualify for the Disability Tax Credit?” In this article, we’ll highlight everything you should know about ulcerative colitis and the disability resources available to you in Canada.
As of 2018, roughly 270,000 Canadians live with a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). By 2030 that figure is estimated to nearly double. Of those affected by IBD, 120,000 people are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the colon and rectum.
Living with ulcerative colitis can be challenging and unpredictable. Flares of symptoms, including frequent bowel movements, abdominal pain, and fatigue, can disrupt daily life and make it difficult to engage in normal activities.
The unpredictable nature of the disease, with periods of remission followed by symptom recurrence, can add additional stress and uncertainty to managing the condition.
For those who are living through a flare or a chronic state of inflammation, you may be wondering if this condition is severe enough to consider it a disability. Could ulcerative colitis qualify for any kind of disability support? That’s what we’ll be exploring below.
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract, specifically the colon, and rectum.
The symptoms of ulcerative colitis can vary in severity and location. Common symptoms include diarrhea (with blood or pus), rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal pain, urgency to defecate, inability to defecate despite urgency, weight loss, fatigue, fever, and delayed growth in children.
Ulcerative colitis can be classified into 4 different types based on the extent of inflammation:
1. Ulcerative proctitis is a type of ulcerative colitis characterized by inflammation that is limited to the rectum near the anus. Rectal bleeding is often the primary symptom of this condition.
2. Proctosigmoiditis involves inflammation of both the rectum and the sigmoid colon, which is the lower end of the colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, and difficulty passing stools despite the urge to do so (tenesmus).
3. Left-sided colitis refers to inflammation that extends from the rectum up through the sigmoid and descending portions of the colon. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain on the left side, and a sense of urgency to defecate.
4. Pancolitis affects the entire colon and presents with severe bouts of bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, fatigue, and significant weight loss.
Ulcerative colitis can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life.
The unpredictable nature of the disease, with its periods of remission and flare-ups, can derail daily routines and make it tough to plan for anything.
The symptoms like frequent bathroom trips, tummy pain, and fatigue can make it hard to work, socialize, or do things you enjoy. Plus, the constant need for a bathroom break can be embarrassing and restrict travel or attending events.
During a flare-up, trips to the bathroom can range broadly from several times a day to even more than 10 times a day. However, during periods of remission, when symptoms are less severe or absent, the frequency of bathroom trips can decrease significantly.
Dealing with ulcerative colitis can also take a toll on your mental health, leading to stress and anxiety.
Now, let's address the elephant in the room - Is ulcerative colitis a disability in Canada?
Yes, the Canadian Revenue Agency recognizes ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases as potentially disabling diseases.
But, simply having a diagnosis will not automatically qualify you for disability benefits. This is measured by how your health condition affects your everyday life.
The term "disability" refers to an impairment that limits the ability to perform important activities such as walking, standing, dressing, lifting, or focusing. These limitations can have varying degrees of impact on work and self-care abilities. Actually qualifying for support will depend on the limitations you experience.
When it comes to the Disability Tax Credit, Canadians can be approved in categories such as Walking, Feeding, Dressing, Speaking, Hearing, Elimination, Mental Functions Necessary for Everyday Life, Vision, and Life-Sustaining Therapy.
Individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including ulcerative colitis, may qualify for the DTC under the "Elimination" category.
Ulcerative colitis, with its chronic and often debilitating symptoms, can meet the criteria for eligibility. However, it's important to note that individuals with Crohn's disease may experience mild symptoms that, although uncomfortable, do not significantly hinder their daily activities.
To know if you qualify for the Disability Tax Credit or other disability programs, it's best to speak with an expert for free. You can reach the helpful representatives at True North Disability Services by clicking here.
The Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a tax credit aimed at reducing the taxable income of individuals living with disabilities. If you have been dealing with a disability for a while, you may be eligible for a retroactive tax credit that can apply for up to 10 years, provided you meet the requirements.
The potential refund from the Canada Revenue Agency can be as much as $40,000, depending on the duration of your disability.
At True North Disability Services, we take pride in helping thousands of individuals each year access the support they rightfully deserve.
To learn more, please visit our section on frequently asked questions about the Disability Tax Credit.