I love free money, especially when it is the government’s money.

That is why I was surprised to discover that I was unaware of a program that could possibly provide up to $90,000 in free money to eligible candidates.

Now I have been fortunate enough not to have to use this program, which most likely explains why I had not heard about it, but there are a few people I am aware of whose family members are eligible, yet have never taken advantage of it.

They never even knew about it. That is why I wanted to get the word out about the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

This plan was developed by the federal government to provide extra support for disabled people and their families who might wish to ramp up their savings to pay for the extra costs associated with disabilities as well as provide extra security down the road for a dependent child.

The RDSP is similar to an RRSP in that it creates an account where your investments can grow tax free.

What is great about the DPSP is that it is a matching plan. This means that, depending on your family income, the government will match your contributions, providing up to $3 for every $1 you contribute into the plan.

If you have very low income, the government will provide funds even if you don’t contribute anything. Qualification for this plan is pretty straight forward. You must be living in Canada, have a Social Insurance Number and qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.

Whoever is applying for the RDSP, must have filed their last two years of income taxes.

If you are not taking advantage of the Disability Tax Credit and are unsure whether or not you would qualify, the qualifying criteria are: having a mental or physical disability that will last one or more years, blindness, limitations in activities that people do regularly such as speaking, hearing, walking, toileting, eating, getting dressed, banking, finding your way around or dealing with emergencies.

If you or your loved one satisfy any of these criteria, it would be worthwhile to talk to your financial adviser or accountant about setting up one of these plans.

As I mentioned earlier, if you qualify for the RDSP but don’t have the funds to contribute into the plan, and your family income is below $25,356, the government will issue you a $1,000 Canadian Disability Savings Bond each year. The maximum bond amount is $20,000, but that is nothing to sneeze at.

One thing I should mention is that there is a maximum age for contributing to this plan and that is 49. This makes sense because if it were unlimited it would be unsustainable as every senior in a retirement facility would most likely qualify. If you are heading toward age 49 and haven’t participated yet, it is not too late. The government will provide grants on any unused entitlements for the proceeding 10 years as far back as 2008 when the plans were established. So if you start the plan this year, you can receive retroactive grants and bonds for the past six years.

I can only imagine how difficult life could be living with a disability or caring for someone with a disability. My hope for this article is that those of you who are eligible can begin benefiting from this program as soon as possible. If you have not heard about this program, talk to your financial adviser or accountant so that they can guide you through the process.


Julie Shea is a mortgage agent and money coach at The Personal Mortgage Group.