TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 30, 2014) - According to a report issued today by the BMO Wealth Institute, a financial plan can play a pivotal role in easing financial stress for the 3.8 million Canadians who have a disability and for those caring for them. The report also noted that, as the population ages, the percentage of Canadians who will become disabled will rise. Currently 42.5 per cent of Canadians over the age of 75 identify themselves as having some form of disability, with hearing loss, mobility issues and memory loss being among the most prevalent.*
"In our aging society and with the prevalence of disability on the rise as we age, a disability can lead to significant challenges for individuals and their families," said Chris Buttigieg, Senior Manager, Wealth Planning Strategy, BMO Financial Group. "Therefore, it's important that Canadians understand how disability can affect one's personal and financial situation. Planning for the possibility of a disability should be a consideration in any financial plan to help safeguard individuals and their families from the unexpected."
Mr. Buttigieg noted that few Canadians have factored in the financial repercussions that can arise from having a disability or caring for a family member who becomes disabled. The combination of reduced income and increased spending to cope with a disability can derail a financial plan. For example, a plan on track to last until at least the age of 90 could see all savings exhausted by the age of 77.
The report stressed that both individuals living with a disability and those caring for them need to manage their financial well-being. Having a well-constructed financial plan that properly utilizes a variety of tools can work to provide the most financial benefit. The report contained results from a study commissioned by the BMO Wealth Institute that identified the top tools used to improve the financial situation of those dealing with disabilities:
- Wills (35 per cent)
- Powers of attorney (32 per cent)
- Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) (32 per cent)
- Investment accounts (27 per cent)
- Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) (five per cent)
The report also recommended that individuals with disabilities should consider opening an RDSP. In order to be eligible for an RDSP, individuals must first qualify for the Disability Tax Credit - a non-refundable tax credit that provides tax relief for individuals who have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions. Anyone can contribute to an RDSP, so it gives people who want to help a way to do so. Money invested in an RDSP can lessen the financial burden on those who live with disabilities and help ensure that their finances grow at an accelerated pace. The RDSP is exempt from most provincial disability and income assistance benefits and people with disabilities can choose what to do with the money once it is withdrawn.
BMO Investments Inc. recently partnered with Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), a not-for-profit organization committed to ensuring the safety, security and well-being of those living with disabilities. The partnership will focus on educating individuals and their families about the RDSP. It will also assist those with disabilities to set up RDSPs in order to help with their financial future.
Disability in the Workplace
The BMO Wealth Institute study also found that Canadians believe employers have an important responsibility to accommodate people with disabilities. Respondents stated the following as the top improvements needed by employers to assist disabled workers:
- Greater accessibility to company premises (63 per cent)
- More supportive policies and practices in the workplace, such as people care days and flexible work arrangements (63 per cent)
- Improved accommodations in the workplace (58 per cent)
- Consumer friendly interactive devices, such as self serve checkouts and direct payment devices (56 per cent)
- Career development and training (55 per cent)
- Executive sponsorship and support in hiring disabled persons (53 per cent)
"The longer an individual is disabled, the more pronounced the impact is on their ability to work and earn an income," said Mr. Buttigieg. "While improvements have already begun in workplaces, it is crucial that employers continue to support employees requiring time, resources and flexible work arrangements to help them, or their caregivers, get the care and support that they need."
To view a copy of the full report, please visit: www.bmo.com/wealthinstitute.
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*Statistics Canada, 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability
About the BMO Wealth Institute
The BMO Wealth Institute provides insights and strategies around wealth planning and financial decisions. The Institute's team of professionals have deep expertise around all aspects of wealth planning including retirement, estate, tax and insurance.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services organization based in North America. The bank offers a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers. BMO Financial Group had total assets of $593 billion and more than 45,500 employees at January 31, 2014.