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Bipolar and Being Denied the Disability Tax Credit

January 7, 2015 Natasha Tracy

I don’t really go around shouting the fact that I am disabled. I have an invisible disability so I suppose that affords me the luxury of not having people know. But, in fact, severe bipolar disorder is a disability. Ask anyone who lives with it. They will tell you how disabling it is. It’s horrendous. And, in Canada, we have a disability tax credit. It’s supposed to making working a little bit easier for people with a disability. Well, I have a disability and I was denied the disability tax credit.

Originally, when I opened the letter denying my disability tax credit I became fairly hysterical and my writing reflected said hysteria. I need this tax credit for tax season. And damn it, who are these government idiots to tell me that I, a person with bipolar, a person who has been under serious healthcare for 16 years, am not disabled enough to get it? What right do these people have to judge my life? I really wanted to find the signatory of the letter and possibly cause him bodily harm.

But I calmed down.

Being Disabled and Fighting the Government

The disability tax credit is afforded to those with a disability like bipolar. Here's what it feels like to have bipolar and be denied the disability tax credit.Getting a disability tax credit is easier than getting disability assistance, to be sure, but I strongly suspect there is a sweeping, unwritten policy to deny many of the applications anyway. It’s a way of saving money. And the government hopes that people with a disability will just walk away. Because people with a disability like bipolar have the least amount of energy and brain space to take on bureaucratic nonsense and many of us will have to choose not to fight simply for our own mental health. I know that. I know that denying me something that I would consider to be a right of being in the Canadian society isn’t a personal thing.

But it feels very personal.

Honestly, it was incredibly difficult for me to even admit to having a disability, let alone asking for help because of it, because I’m an extremely independent person and I don’t like getting help from other people. And now I feel slapped because of it. It hurts.

Yes, I Will Fight for the Disability Tax Credit

Like I said, I hate admitting that I’m disabled and I hate asking for help but I will, in fact, fight for this help that I have earned by being a taxpaying Canadian citizen my whole life. I will hate doing it. But I will do it anyway. Because the fact is I actually do need the help. I’ve written about it over and over: my bipolar brain is limited in its usefulness, I’m constantly fatigued and I just don’t have the same functional capacity as the “normals.” Sorry. I just don’t. And I have to be able to stop apologizing for it. I have to stop feeling like less of a person because of it. I have to stop being embarrassed about the word “disability.”

Because, look, if a person is paraplegic, no one expects him or her to run because of his or her disability. And that person has no less worth because of it. And that person would be afforded certain accommodations because we, as a society, recognize that person’s value.

And I have to put my own disability on par with any other. I have to stop beating myself up because I can’t run and accept accommodations because I do have value, even if I need a bit of help to fully realize it.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or Google+ or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2015, January 7). Bipolar and Being Denied the Disability Tax Credit, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2015/01/bipolar-being-denied-disability-tax-credit



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Michelle
January, 6 2019 at 11:39 pm

I'm wondering if you have since been approved? I was just denied myself, they literally listed restrictions they have on their webpage that my Doctor listed in his letter to them as being 'not enough to qualify'. It's a joke to say the least...I mean literally, I can't do the things most people do day to day to survive 'life' I don't pay bills, I don't grocery shop, I don't do banking..these things are literally used as examples on their page..I'm so confused...I'm definitely going to appeal this one, my Aunt who functions normally and works receives the credit, she has a physical issue, but it doesn't impair her enough so she can't work, I can't work and do not function normally, but because it's a mental illness I am denied? It's so utterly unfair...and often lawyers just take advantage of people like us who are vulnerable and take 20-30% of their money! I'm doing it on my own for sure..thanks for writing about this, it is comforting to know I'm not alone.

Bonita
March, 29 2018 at 7:38 pm

In your article you stated that a paraplegic would never be asked to run, but with mental illness, we are expected to unaffected by the limitations of an individuals degree of illness. But they do, you have to be highly functioning, and take abuse from the CRA like a champ. I was denied after years of receiving the DTC, out of the blue I was cut off, they sent a T2201, my doctor completed it, it was rejected and was asked to fill out a questionairre. His office doesn't keep paper files so it got tossed. I reapplied, misunderstanding that my Psycotherapist who is a social worker I see by-weekly, did a brilliant job of filling it in, he is after all my main caregiver. I live very rurally, we get a visit from a psychiatrist 2 times a year a the nearest town. CRA said "get the doctor to sign the photocopy" they have the original. So I'm looking at June 20 for the doctors appointment, which goes over their 90 day limitation. I asked for an extension, they didn't say yes or no, just ended the call. How much you want to bet they'll deny it again. It's a game I think. I've lost 20 lbs since this started, and now I can't seem to keep anything down, that's how stressed I am, so I said to myself "what the hell, may as well not eat and expedite the end of this BS" I have no support system outside of my social worker, so no one will care what happens to me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
March, 30 2018 at 8:01 am

Hi Bonita,
I'm so sorry you're in that situation. I know so many people that are. There are companies that specialize in helping you get the DTC (they take a portion of it). You may or may not want to go that way but it can take care of some of the stress. I hope you're successful.
- Natasha Tracy

donna burrows
January, 24 2018 at 11:34 am

I have looked up bipolar disorder and tax credits. I have no idea how this article became what it is or isn't. By the time I got to the bottom I have forgotten what I was even there for. I still don't know anything about what I was looking for. I read it three times trying to figure out some sort of relevance to all of the comments that might have a central theme. I must be bipolar.

canucklady
December, 5 2016 at 3:59 pm

I have just been denied DTC. It is just too exhausting to fight it. PTSD, anxiety and DID.
Makes it so difficult all the time.

Michele
April, 1 2016 at 1:30 pm

Thanks to everyone for aharing your experiences. I've got bp2, celiac disease (both new diagnoses) and chronic pain. But reading the application criteria I can't see how I can qualify, even though my life is, and has always been very challenging. I've been off on medical leave twice now in the last 5 yrs, both x over a year (I'm still currently on leave). I have struggled to work full time over the last 2 decades. Also had a diff time in uni - stopped and started; dropped courses over and over again before finally getting my degree at the age of 27. It has always been a struggle. I've been considering applying for the DTC but after reading about everyone's experiences I may hold off in hopes the new government will change the policy. It's very discouraging, always trying to convince others that you are sick enough to be *deserving* of help. Makes it even harder to actually get and be well. Hugs to all.

Sethra
February, 26 2016 at 6:18 am

Even qualifying for the DTC can be impossible with certain conditions. I suffer from severe anxiety due to recurring physical issues, none of which put me above the magical functioning level % to qualify, since they aren't present every day. I lose 3-7 days every month to recurring physical issues, which causes my anxiety issues about once a week. This is enough to cost me job after job (and I'm trying to support myself and one other person) since I also can't work more than 25-30 hours a week outside of my home without causing severe fatigue leading to illness/infection, but not enough to qualify for any sort of support or tax credit. The system is definitely broken. Either employers need to be more understanding of people who can't "do 40 hours like a normal person" (yes, I've heard that directly from a boss to my face) or there needs to be a supplemental program for people whose disabilities cause intermittent daily activity loss.

debbie
February, 22 2016 at 7:17 am

I just want to add to those struggling with the forms. If you apply to DTC or CPPD and have never had follow-up with a doctor or have a history of being treated -it's like the condition is non-existent. There has to be medical pathology/reports to support your condition. As well, the criteria for CPPD and DTC are totally different. The DTC is a working persons' tax credit and can go back retro to 10 years. The CPPD is a benefit for those deemed "severe and prolonged" from any work. Not just your doctor saying either -there has to be proof. Also, depending on when you last qualified -the benefit stops a certain time after you stopped working -like insurance. So lets say you stopped working in 2004 and last qualified in 2006. Then in 2010 you were diagnosed with cancer. You do not meet the criteria based on when you last qualified. It's explanatory on the CRA website. So, check it out, do your homework and definitely appeal if you've been denied. But read the reasoning why you've been denied. Go from there.

Bruce bowen
January, 13 2016 at 1:08 pm

Bipolars like me don't know anything when they in the manic phase. We are out of touch with reality then.

Bruce Bowen
January, 8 2016 at 1:20 am

I am bipolar too. And I feel you.

Kay
January, 2 2016 at 2:06 pm

To all of you posting here: I commend you.
I have jumped through all of the mental illness hoops, and let me tell you, the DTC process is the most strenuous one of all. I applaud all of you for even attempting to fill out the damn application with a mental illness....ha what a joke.
I have BP, BPD, PTSD, ADHD combined type, and a visual processing disorder. Denied of course. LOL I'm actually laughing right now reading what I just wrote.
Can you even believe that? Really?
I can only assume that the majority of successful mentally ill applicants have submitted fraudulent information. What exactly does it look like to be mentally ill and receive the DTC? Do you have to be blind and psycho? do you have to be so sad that you can't even think about filling out the forms because your starving because you can't feed yourself and have no help or job?
The whole cumulative effects category is where we usually fall and if you don't say that it takes you 5 hours to get ready in the morning because your panic attacks last that long and that you can't hold a job because of it then they won't approve you.
I'm actually ashamed that this is the case. That this is the system in Canada.
I feel for all of you that try so damn hard every day and can't catch a beak. It's not your fault that you have the illness. So why does the government make us feel even worse about it? They say one thing and do another. Why do they even offer it if it's clearly not fair.
ugh! it pisses me off.

Amanda fink
November, 21 2015 at 1:37 am

I tried I tried hard I thought I would be one of the functioning ones for sure because when I was diagnose it was a huge depression thought it would be treated because I would not be an itiot and not tame my meds . Than I found reality when stress happened i went down more and more keep planning to go back to normal but I could not do it . I can't do it . I finally had to face to myself that this illness is bigger than me and it is going to take full time management and I'm never going to be able to work without calling in anymore . So it's time to take disability , I finally believe I'm disabled and I know I won't get disability it's very hard to get but they say Canada had help for people with disabilities nobody has to suffer . What the outside world don't get is that this is suffering . This is terrible suffering they just don't feel that emty agony inside , the fear of not knowing when it's going to happen again how humiliated you will hit this time what's the next low . What's the next high and will it be too bad or will I be able to seclude myself enough that nobodie notices or
At least it looks like I'm making improvements . Yet I'm still aware that the know I will always try to say I'm getting better and I'm not . I can see it but I can't stop it . In canceling appointment not reliable no more and I used to be perfect at that stuff . I can't focus of the thinking in my head would to stop I would be so board I would not know what to do with myself . As much as the thinking cause me grief and the waves and how much I hate this illness to the depths of my soal , there is a comfort in it . Sometime I love my alone time in my room I honestly love reaserching all night . People say I have no hobbies but I love to learn and in a hypo manic state is like a tropical vacation to a normal person . At the time before consequence comes in when I'm manic and doing horrible things the release feels good . See now I go to respond to one question and it turns into how I feel as a bi poler . My extremes are so extreme in like in my own world and they expect me to function in the real world . Man I wish I could

nick
July, 31 2015 at 8:10 am

Natasha you are right and doctors are not helping, my wife is in the same position as you. Doctor because of stress, fatigue, her severe bipolar type 1 have restricted to her working a max of 2 days, 3 is pushing it and a max of 6h per day. Which employer would hire under those condition so you are stuck lying until an episode breaks out. Then if you look at the government form no doctor can say it critically refrain you from normal daily activities like walking or talking, so immediately you are refused. Going from working 5 days to almost nothing is financially difficult and by getting no help from doctor or government is even harder. The disability form are made only for clearly visible or life threatening illness. No understanding for mental illness as been made other than if your are completely inadequate to even take care of yourself for basic necessities.

r
July, 5 2015 at 7:13 am

My co-worker doesn't have bipolar disorder (that I know of) like I do but she is a high functioning employee with a number of physical illnesses, diabetes being one of them. She gets a large kick back i.e. for medication, and other freebies, etc from the government every year for her physical issues. It seems so unfair that those with a mental illness have to fight so hard for any benefit at all from the government
There needs to be more public outcry, protests and campaiging from the people most affected with mental illness but unfortunately many are too ill to do so. I also suspect few people would be willing to publicly identify themselves as one suffering with a mental illness because of the stigma that is involved. Sadly I think the government counts on all of this... I also believe a large portion of the general public would be on the government's side since so much ignorance still abounds about this illness. Many people still believe it is a human failing or weakness that somehow we can overcome on our own... It's no surprise to me that so many homeless people also suffer with a mental illness. They don't have any power and most of those in power know it and just don't seem care. What we need is more advocates to help us fight this battle if we ever hope to gain any ground on this issue.
Sorry to be such a downer.... these are just a few of my cynical thoughts and feelings

Dave
July, 4 2015 at 3:24 pm

Hey that's a great topic I'm going through exactly the same thing but in another country so the support I got has different names etc. but the principles are the same.
It feels like they have basically told me my illness has disappeared, it's not even a disability.
It sucks because it's a step backwards to all the research, medications, progress, over many years who have worked so hard worldwide to fine tune can be dismissed because of the "opinion" of any particular government because of money.
There is enough money to fix the worlds problems more than 10 times over - but it is mostly wasted on war.

Katherine T.
April, 30 2015 at 9:38 am

Thank you Natasha for your post, "Bipolar and Being Denied the Disability Tax Credit".
I just received my 'Notice of Determination' and was denied eligibility. I was astonished because seven days earlier I qualified for ODSP.
I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14, but after admitting myself to the hospital (for the 4th time) a month after my 19th birthday, I was formally diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar, severe anxiety and panic disorder and ADHD. Once I was put on medication and reevaluated I was diagnosed with Type II Bipolar as opposed to rapid cycling.
It has been 10 years since I started 'appropriate therapy and medication'. I am currently taking Clonazepam, Seroquel, Lamictal, Wellbutrin (each night) and Vyvanse (2x daily). As you can imagine, the monthly cost of pharmaceutical medication without any coverage is upwards of 500$/month. The main point is that, I have spent the past 14 years trying to optimize my ability to function in society.
I started my post secondary journey enrolled in University, but I withdrew after I started treatment. It's been almost ten years and I am now proudly graduating from a two-year Culinary Management Nutrition diploma program. It took me four years to complete my program and I had to withdraw because of a relapse, but I still returned and finished my final year with straight As, 4.0 GPA, and on the Dean's List of Recognition.
Presence of difficulties in areas such as 'academic skills' (eg. mathematics or languages) is not considered marked restriction in performing the mental functions for everyday life (self care, health and safety and simple transactions).
I did not take 10 years to complete post-secondary because of a presence of difficulties in areas such as 'academic skills'. It took me 10 years because I had to withdraw from school twice despite being on appropriate medication and therapy. I had to take 2 - 3 years off school at a time just so I could address my relapse, readjust my medication, monitor for 2-3 weeks, suffer from the side effects, readjust again, monitor for 2-3 weeks. That's apparently the "hardest" part, yet I still have to fight the battle to find myself again, achieve this state of temporary wellness, and gather the strength to reteach myself everything I had already learned before I even think about trying to return to school (at a reduced course load).
By definition, an "inordinate amount of time" means that it takes you three times longer to perform these functions than it would an average person of the same age, who does not have an impairment. So a four year undergrad should take me 12 years and a two-year diploma should take me 6 years before it is even considered an inordinate amount of time. I know that this example is out of context, because it is irrelevant how long I take to finish school. The fact that I am able to go to school shows that I can perform on my own the activities related to self-care, health and safety, and SIMPLE transactions.
I have always felt that government assistance programs for people with disabilities discriminate those who are diagnosed with Bipolar. We aren't considered eligible because we can achieve a state of wellness. The issue I have is that this state of wellness is never permanent or promised, there is no "cure". Every doctor/psychiatrist I have worked with has told me explicitly that I would have to take medication for the "rest of my life" unless something new comes along.
So my frustration lies with the means in which they, "the government" determines who is/isn't eligible. If my psychiatrist (who is payed through provincial health insurance) tells me that I need to be on medication permanently is it not the responsibility of that said province to make sure that I can afford to take this 'life-sustaining' therapy. Further more, should it not be the responsibility of the provincial government to help support those who are capable of achieving wellness?
The answer is NO. Instead of supporting our wellness, they discourage it. I have to be at the mercy of my illness before I can be considered for help. When I get the help and I spend years trying to achieve this temporary state of wellness I am no longer eligible for assistance. When I relapse (as it is nature of being diagnosed with an "incurable" illness) I am no longer receiving support or help. I have to reapply and go through the same process of trying to prove that I suffer from a permanent disability, because it is my fault that I have failed and need help again. Talk about stigma and shame.
I applied for the Disability Tax Credit so that I could start an RDSP. I am 28 years old and as I have tried to work but due to the nature of my disability I have never held a job longer than 5 months. An RDSP provides me with the opportunity to save for the future. Not only that, it encourages me to save for the future. Because the reality is, my ability to save now and for the future is going to take more than an "inordinate amount of time" than it would an average person of the same age, who does not have an impairment.
- It took me 10 years to complete a 2 year diploma, resulting in a combined $48,000 worth of debt (Education LOC and OSAP Loans)
- I can't make more than 200$/month or my income support is deducted.
- When I no longer qualify for income support I lose the extended health benefits that pay for my medication ($6000/yr).
One of these issues alone is enough to cause severe stress and anxiety in someone without an impairment.
Yet here I am along with the many others with Bipolar who fight for our wellness.
When did life become a luxury as opposed to a human right?

tonya
April, 25 2015 at 1:40 pm

I have read all of your posts and wanted to say I feal all of your pain extend my heartfelt sympathy for all of our painful journeys.
I am 43 years old have a 2.5 year old, and have been suffering from depression anxiety probably add and bi polar 2 for over twenty years. I was pysically abused from the age of 2 to 17 by my mother and sexually abused at the age of 4-5, 8-9 and 13. I have endured major physical trama for most of my childhood and did a bio feedback scan that stated that I also suffer from ptsd.
I have just recently started some mood stablizers and I trying to get medication for add. My uestions are would I be eliglbe or the dtc as it has effected my life in so many negative ways. I have not really worked only a few jobs here and there. I have seen a phyc and he said i had dysthemia possible mood disorder, slight add. I think my dr would help me if I asked her about the dtc appilication, however I do not want to bring up an issue that would not be fruitful. My husband takes care of everything as he just wants me to get better.
Sorry for the overshare..lol ust wanted so input if I would be a good candidate for the Dtc.
Thank-you all

Carl Hardy
March, 13 2015 at 2:14 am

thanks for sharing this post,, good ones,,

Mike Jacques
February, 25 2015 at 11:17 am

Am I not asking for money that I have paid in since I have contributed over so many years??? I am a functioning Bipolar II but have struggled since the age of 20, now 48. I went through the exercise of applying for this tax credit and it sent me into an episode FFS! It was ridiculous. My doctor was also reluctant to help out and the consultant that cost me 200 was trying to coach the doctor in how to respond on the document to ensure acceptance or further review. I felt kind of dirty at the end of it like I was trying to rip someone off.

Lillian
February, 8 2015 at 12:09 pm

I am now homeless !!!!

Lillian
February, 8 2015 at 12:08 pm

I too have been denied the Disability TaX BENEFIT, in which it states that those with certain illnesses would qualify. So believing the NBA I applied on my own. My dr. did put the diagnosis, but also put it did not effect me 90percent of the time, because I am an intellegent person who attempts to work part-time to suppliment the bit I get from government. As a single person, who did not think a room-mate would be a good idea, since I sometimes get energy in the middle of the night to clean, or re-organize the clutter I have created because of another injury causing me to not be able to lift anything over about 10 pounds. When I was denied, it was one month before my 50th birthday while the reason I had applied, was to get the disability savings account, so I was denied that too. The qualification for DTC is a requirement to get that, which would have got me thru a very difficult time recovering from my injury. It would have given me some security for future that I would have a savings account to dip into if needed in future. DENIED help !!!! It was very hard to accept this diagnosis, and now they denied the severity.... I have been hospitalized SIX times. When is the system going to stop failing us. I am exhausted and can't deal with the paperwork most of the time. Dr. keeps a record of tests I go thru monitoring my thyroid condition also, so if tiredness doesn't come from that ...... than why ???? I try to eat healthy, keep active, do volunteer work, and help those I know who are less fortunate than myself. In fact, putting them first is often why I haven't more time to improve my situation by learning a career I can do with my ability. Instead of being kept on disability !!!! System is a scam. It tries to keep people down. Why not help those who don't like to focus on the negative aspects of the world and trying to improve my community as a whole.

jorge mei kelly
January, 13 2015 at 10:19 pm

Invisible illness/disability is often no less debilitating than many visible illness/disabilities and often ultimately results in huge reductions in income earning potential. Typically those with such illnesses are living in, or barely above poverty and from their low wages (or disability incomes) must also pay astronomical additional medical and pharmaceutical expenses for heath-related things (ie prescriptions, chiropractic, naturpathic, holistic medicine/therapies, massage therapy, travel to and from other communities for doctor and specialist appointments etc) that are over and above and not covered by BC un/medical or private disability insurance programs. Thereby these persons have more than "earned "his/her right to this modest tax deduction which is supposed to help offset those additional medical expenses to some degree.
It is a further dehumanising, marginalizing and oppressive form of systemic abuse to deny persons struggling with invisible illness/disabilities, this legitimate opportunity to find some tiny comfort in a reduced taxation for something for which they are already held hostage in so many painful, uncomfortable and debilitating ways. If a doctor is willing to sign a form stating a person is disabled, who is the government to deny their right to programs set out to help them? In fact, how dare they?!

Tanya
January, 9 2015 at 9:56 am

I am Bipolar and am on ODSP. How do I apply for the disability tax credit?

Paul Winkler
January, 8 2015 at 5:04 pm

Hi Natasha
I agree with most of what you and Mark wrote. In my view, the important change needed to make the Disability Tax Credit helpful for *disabled* people is for the government to change the criteria. They should be based on the kind of test required by the Canada Pension Plan Disability programme, or by the provincial disability programmes.
I have had bipolar disorder for at least 40 years. It really began to affect my ability to work when I was unable to get psychiatric help after trying for 12 years. What pushed me over the edge was the stress of a long daily commute, plus running a business on the side, plus the stress of my "main" job which was at the Canada Revenue Agency. From about 2002 i have been unable to work *at all* due to my bipolar. I qualified for CPP disability right away, with no difficulty.
Mark is correct that the current legislation is very narrowly interpreted by CRA. Very simply, to qualify, you must show that you are incapable of doing normal daily activities without human assistance.
The policies applied by CRA are governed by the actual legislation. Policy specialists at National Headquarters then provide their interpretation of that legislation, which (owing to the agency's internal culture) is as slanted toward denial as possible whilst still complying with the letter of the law.
But, tax court judges also have an important role to play here. They too are bound by the tax laws. Because of that, they often make decisions that appear to fly in the face of common sense, but are in fact grounded in the legislation itself. CRA is also, somewhat bound by the tax court decisions, many of which deny the tax credit. And CRA is completely bound by judicial decisions that are issued by the higher courts. Just as other judges are then bound by those previous decisions. That's how our legal system works, based on the principles of English common law.
It's not fair to blame the issue on "barely trained monkeys looking for specific keywords". CRA staff are, in fact, intensely schooled in the almost 3,000 pages of the Income Tax Act, the interpretations by the federal and supreme courts, and further interpretations by senior policy analysts. Obviously, Canadian tax laws are too complex to be handled by other than specialists; but those specialists are not "barely trained."
But what it all boils down to, for me personally, is this:
I am ineligible for the credit because (despite being unable to hold down a job, visit a noisy bar or house party, go to some shopping malls, endure stress longer than a short while, participate in some family and social occasions, argue with others, watch distressing news on TV, or even volunteer much of my energy and time to the community or clubs I belong to), I can dress myself, go to the toilet without help, prepare meals (at least, *some* meals!), drive a car short distances, do what most people my age can physically do, hear people talking, and see reasonably well with corrective lenses.
Until and unless federal politicians are willing to open up the Disability Tax Credit to *all* disabled Canadians, it will remain, in my opinion, a joke.
But that's just my own story. Don't let it stop you pursuing your course of action, because with tax matters, you just never know!

Sarah
January, 8 2015 at 3:22 pm

Here in Australia we have a creature called the "dole bludger". (Dole = unemployment benefit, bludger = "one who does nothing"). The dole bludger features prominently on the political landscape as an entity who takes tax payers money and lives a life of luxury. This concept makes the average Australian angry, and so is a good leverage for getting votes. The politician promises they will make these bludgers work for their dole.
Of course this has nothing to do with the reality of people who seek help from the government. Unemployment rates change with the economic situation, and not with political stunts.
Now Centrelink, which coordinates all government supports including the disability pension, passes on this stigma to all of its customers, including those of us seeking financial help because of bipolar disorder. There is such a thing as the disability pension for people with severe mental illness. Getting it is more difficult than you might think. If you are "high functioning" like me. First I must get on the generic unemployment benefit, "Newstart", and fail every process aimed at getting me into work.
Now when you are on Newstart, the stigma follows you. The government process designed to 'get you back to work' consists of an approach very similar to the 'moral therapy' used before the 1950s with mental patients.
I was going along well in this process, until I had a relapse. I cancelled my mandatory appointment with the apparent approval of Centrelink. However they cancelled my payments anyway. How does it feel, to be punished by your own government, the government you worked tirelessly for, for having an illness. And because I was ill, it was a very difficult thing to process. I tried to contact them about it, but was treated like dirt and so I developed an anxious aversion. I was literally crying and shaking every time I tried to sort out the situation.
And so my condition got worse. And because my condition got worse, I was hospitalised. The social worker at the hospital sorted things out with her contacts in Centrelink. And ever since I have had to get someone else to work with Centrelink on my behalf. Right now my husband makes his weekly wage so I am not eligible for any benefits or pharmaceutical reductions.
And our government wonders why it's so difficult to integrate the mentally ill.

Russell Ellis
January, 8 2015 at 10:31 am

I think people in mental health also do a bad job explaining mental health problems people have. For example I am Bipolar, have been sense the Vietnam war and I am fine most often, but until I got on the right pill's I was an unbelievable beast, and over the years, they found Zoloph was the pill for me, but miss taking it one time and I went back to being that beast, and would also not think of taking my next pills on on and on. Now at 69 I have dementia as well and we had an emergence, so my wife had to leave for a couple of days and I forgot to take my pill's for the night before and the next morning and was extremely messed up. But that's an extreme for this day and age, and with someone with dementia. But every few years I get a new psychologist that I can't explain what I was like back then and now don't even know except for the rumors I here from time to time, so like me they just think that's just a bunch of bull, no one could be that nuts, but I was, and when the look at my past records they understand, I was!! So how can anyone know how dangerous I can be if I miss my pill's just one time, if they didn't know what I was like before I took them. Know one who hasn't been there can never understand that and most today don't see us like they did in the past. They didn't even have treatments for us after the war for delayed stress or anything, just bust chairs to fight frustrations, so we don't even yet today know if more veterans were child physical, mental, verbal, or sexual abusers, or wife beaters because of the wars the fought because no one studied it, so how many were mentally ill and punished for being criminals. Even in this day and age we are in the model T stage in mental health studies and so far to go and we will never start going forward until we end contaminating our research by special interests groups or laws that keep people for talking about illegal things they did in the past. So I feel and understand your frustration, because this area even in today's modern age is so sanitized that no one can learn who the real victims are nor how dangerous they can really become, but we are not the only ones at risk of what we can do, but so is society, if things get to far out of hand, and funding get cuts we will be back to a time when we in MN cut so much funding that we emptied all our mental health hospitals and put them all back on the streets. Of course it didn't take long to open them back up, because of the problems it caused. The point is, that we hide history like this from the public and years later we wonder why no one told us when it had happened before.

Wendy R
January, 8 2015 at 7:03 am

Does the United States (the State of Georgia in particular) have this tax credit or something like it at all?

Mark Roseman
January, 7 2015 at 1:23 pm

Have helped multiple people apply for both the DTC and CPP Disability (which is designed to provide an income for people unable to work at all). Everything you said is bang on.
Initial applications are refused almost all the time. From the reasons given, I have to assume that the people reviewing the first round are barely trained monkeys looking for specific keywords and rejecting the application if the keyword is found.
When you appeal, it actually gets looked at by someone who you'd consider doing the job of actually "reviewing" your application.
Your experience of the emotional hurdles faced is common too. Just contemplating having a disability is a huge leap for everyone, and ten times worse for people with "invisible" illnesses (a lot of the people I've helped have applied for mental health, inflammatory bowel diseases, or both). Getting through the steps to complete the application is another big hurdle. And getting past the initial reaction with any self-worth left intact is practically a miracle.
You definitely need a supportive doctor for that part of the form, and to help by writing a letter as part of the appeal advocating for you. Lots of doctors don't believe people with most mental illnesses should be eligible for these kind of benefits, so they outright refuse (and tell their patients that, who 'trust' their expert doctor and don't apply) or do a half-ass job so there's no way it'll get approved.
The sticking points are generally that the evaluation criteria are applied very strictly, so need to be read closely and things phrased in exactly the right way. If it's disability in certain specific areas (typically to do with ADLs), you need to explain how the disability affects that exact specific area, not something closely related, more general, or even using a different word, etc.
The other thing is the level of disability (typically "90% of the time" with the DTC) needs to be proven. This is a much harder one with episodic illnesses like bipolar. We've found that leveraging the unpredictability of the illness so that you would never be able to commit to any kind of work schedule at a conventional employer has worked. Even for this, wording is important, as applications have been rejected that say "severity varies over time..." (which they'll take to optimistically mean good months and bad, and some level of advance warning), but got accepted once it was explained as the severity varying dramatically on a daily or weekly basis, but usually bad enough to interfere with working. Again, this is a tough one for bipolar unless you're an incredibly rapid cycler.
So yes, these programs are hugely pitted against the people who generally need them most, the actual process to get approved is opaque, and there are few places to go to get real help.

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