The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was introduced by the federal government to assist people eligible for the disability tax credit to build an asset for the future. After tax savings in an RDSP are matched by up to $3 per $1 through the Disability Savings Grant. For those on a low income, the government provides $1000/year for 20 years. Go to www.rdsp.com for detailed information.

The RDSP has encouraged individuals and families to save for the future, opened the door for contributions from anyone in the community, provided generous matching grants and bonds, and placed the control of the RDSP into the hands of individuals and those that love them.

The BC government set the national best practice by exempting the RDSP from BC Disability Assistance payments, both as income and asset.

Over the past three years, PLAN has been tracking the implementation of the Registered Disability Savings Plan across the country and measuring the impact. To further this objective, PLAN undertook a scan of the impact of the RDSP on services and benefits accessed by people with disabilities in British Columbia.  This scan examined the provincial (and federal) programs and services being utilized by British Columbians with disabilities to evaluate the full range of implications of the RDSP.

Throughout the lifetime of an individual with a disability, a majority will access a variety of different services and programs administered by the federal government and the Government of British Columbia. As PLAN conducted the scan, it became apparent that there were certain areas that consistently required separate and unique asset and income tests in order to receive access to the program and/or service.  Even though someone may be receiving disability income assistance from the province or federal governments, Housing, Child Care, Education, Legal Aid, and Long Term Care programs require an independent income and asset assessment.

Currently, having an RDSP may place other disability benefits at risk, even though the RDSP is a long term savings vehicle. People with disabilities should not have to choose between current stability and future security.

Exempt the RDSP from the network of supports and services provided to people with disabilities.

Over the past year, we were encouraged to see some of these exemptions implemented:

  • BC Housing has exempted the RDSP as an asset when:
    • determining total assets for eligibility purposes; or
    • used in total assets when applying an imputed rate of return on assets for tenants in subsidized housing.
  • Student Aid has exempted the RDSP as an asset for calculating student loans for part-time students. Income is partially exempted at $50/ month of study. Full-time studies have not yet exempted the RDSP in calculating student loans.

Exemptions are still required for full time student aid, child care subsidies, long term care centers, legal aid, BC family bonus program and home care. Many people with disabilities will be in need of one or more of these program areas over their lifetime.

Full RDSP exemption across all disability-related supports 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 long-term benefit to individuals and families, and not a potential present liability
  • Encourage individuals and families to use the RDSP to help plan for the future