The Rule: the RDSP may count as income or asset in eligibility tests for programs, services &/or benefits.
In most provinces across Canada the income earned from an RDSP will not affect eligibility to benefits. This means people can receive any amount from their RDSP and use it for any purpose they’d like and it WON’T affect their disability benefits. Still, there are other important provincial programs which use income/asset testing as part of the screening process. In BC, if an individual wants to access Child Care, Low-Income Housing, Long-Term Care and/or Education Aid, they’re required to undergo separate financial assessments for each program. Each assessment has its unique regulations and restrictions. Even though a person is technically eligible for any of these programs they still require independent income and asset assessments and that could mean the RDSP counts as income or asset. We would like this to change.
The policy in a box:
- People can have an RDSP and still get provincial disability benefits
- In BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavuut, people can withdraw as much as they want without affecting disability benefits
- However, across Provinces it’s unclear whether the RDSP will affect eligibility to other important provincial social programs (i.e. Child Care, Low Income Housing, Long-Term Care and Education Aid)
- Example: In BC, Student Assistance has exempted the asset and income of an RDSP for part-time students; the income of full-time students’ RDSP is partially exempt with no mention of an asset exemption
Why it matters:
Most people acknowledge the importance of future safety and well-being, yet the conflicting regulations make this close to impossible. For example, when parents establish their RDSP for their young child they cannot be expected to know whether their child will need Legal Aid Services 30, or 40 years from now. Yet this policy expects them to be able to see into the future. So what would exempting the RDSP from programs such as Housing, Childcare and Education income and asset tests do? Changing this would:
- Ensure people’s ability to access basic supports that form a key part of their social and financial security
- Ensure that the RDSP remains a benefit to individuals and families, and not a potential liability
- Encourage individuals and families to use the RDSP to help plan for the future
So, what do you think?
PLAN would like to approach our government with this exemption and clarify the rules surrounding income and asset eligibility tests. But we need your voice! We’d like to hear your experience and thoughts about the RDSP and income testing, along with your ideas for solutions. Do you agree with us? What else can we add?