This column was originally written for Business First, a TC Media publication.

Rowan and Suzanne are the parents of a 6 year old son, named Jason.  When Jason was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Rowan and Suzanne are able to provide him with lots of love and care….. at least for now.  However, they do sometimes wonder what will happen to their son when they are no longer able to look after him.  As they themselves get older, they recognize that they simply won’t be able to do as much for Jason as they are doing now.  They would really like to set aside some money for his long term care.

Fortunately Suzanne heard about the Registered Disability Savings Plan.  The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was set up by the government of Canada to help parents and others provide for the long-term security of a disabled person.  This is done by providing matching Grants, and in some cases Bonds.

In 2012 Rowan and Suzanne contributed $1,500 towards Jason’s RDSP.  The government of Canada matched this contribution with a $3,500 grant.  That means that in one year, Jason’s RDSP grew by a full $5,000.

Rowan and Suzanne can continue to contribute towards their son’s RDSP until the end of the year that he turns 59.  The government will provide up to $70,000 in matching grants over the lifetime.

If Rowan and Suzanne had low income, Jason’s RDSP would be eligible to receive an additional $1,000 per year, even if they didn’t contribute anything towards the RDSP.  This is called the Canada Disability Savings Bond, and the maximum that can be received in Bonds is $20,000 over the lifetime.

The RDSP was introduced in 2008.  For some reason it was not as popular as it probably deserved to be, possibly due to the fact that it was new and a tad confusing.  Budget 2012 announced some new changes.  One of these changes allows you to open an RDSP account today and claim unused grants from prior years.  So if you only found out today that you were eligible, you may still be able to access grants missed in previous years.

Rowan and Suzanne are very pleased that they are able to set aside some money for Jason.  They are also happy that the government of Canada is chipping in with some assistance.  This shared responsibility is the type of government assistance that can truly make sense.

Extras:  If you are interested, head over to www.rdsp.com.  This website has a lot of great information and a really useful calculator.  Or go to www.servicecanada.gc.ca and do a search for RDSP.

Please note that the above example uses fictional names.  Any resemblance to any actual person or situation is strictly coincidence.

Filed under: Consumer Tax by David Boese No Comments »