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Arthritis and the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease). Other forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and arthritis-related autoimmune diseases.

In Canada, Arthritis is a top cause of disability. Click here to read a CBC news report on arthritis.

The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is joint pain. Pain may come and go, or be constant. It may affect one or more joints. The pain from arthritis is due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, or muscle strains against stiff painful joint.   Arthritis can lead to restrictions in joint or back movements.  Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the Canada. 

Can You Get a Disability Tax Credit due to Arthritis?

If you have arthritis and have severe limitations in either walking, dressing, or feeding yourself on a daily basis you will probably qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.  The severe limitations must have lasted, or be expected to last for 12 months or more and must be 90 percent of the time.  Only those individuals who are extremely restricted (taking 3 or more times longer than the average person) in their activities may qualify for the tax credit.

Specifically What is the Medical Criteria to Get a DTC due to Arthritis?

The medical criteria for the Disability Tax Credit is not directly determined by the specific medical diagnosis, or even the amount of pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue that one might have. Instead, the government looks at how severe your ability to perform one or more of the activities of daily living are affected by your health impairment. 

There are many of these daily activities that are looked at when approving a DTC but specifically for Arthritis, three of them stand out as the areas that an arthritic impairment would most normally qualify.  These activities of daily living are walking, dressing or feeding oneself. 

In order to qualify you must be severely impaired in how long it takes you to perform these activities, which means that it must take you 3 times longer to perform the activity than somebody who does not have your impairment.  Also, it must be prevalent more than 90% of the time in at least one of these activities (or more than 50% of the time in at least each of two or more of these activities of daily living.)  Examples of Severe Limitations in each of these daily activities are as follows:


  • You must always rely on a wheelchair or a scooter when outside of the home, even for a short distance.
  • Even with a cane or a walker, you are unable to walk down 100 meters (110 yards, or past 6 or 7 houses on your street) before needing to stop to rest because of painful joints, fatigue, problems with balance or shortness of breath. Or, even if you can walk that distance, it takes you at least 3 times longer to walk the 100 meters than a person who does not have your impairment.


  • It takes you more than 3 times longer than a person who does not have your impairment to put on your clothes because of pain or restricted movement in your joints or back.
  • You need someone else’s daily assistance to dress you.


  • You are unable to use a knife to cut you food.
  • You take more than 3 times longer to feed yourself because of joint pain, restricted joint movements, poor coordination or tremors.

You would likely not qualify for the disability tax credit if:

  • You can walk past 6 or 7 houses down the block in less than 4 minutes.
  • Despite joint or back pain, you can still walk at a reasonable pace.
  • You are just a little slow, walking a few steps behind everyone else.
  • You can walk around the block without stopping at a reasonable pace.
  • You only have problems with stairs, and not walking on a flat surface.
  • Your joint problems improve intermittently during the year (not present more than 90% of the time).
  • Your medications improve your symptoms and activities significantly.
  • Your walking is significantly improved when you use a cane or a walker.
If you think that this may apply to you and would like to find out if you qualify, click here or call us Toll Free at 1-888-999-2221 and we would be happy to answer any of your questions.