disability-homeowner

One of the biggest investments your client’s made is his or her home. While most advisors know clients can claim mobility-related renovations as medical expenses for tax purposes, there are other provincial programs and incentives available.

Residential Access Modification Program (RAMP)

An Alberta-based program, RAMP provides grants for lower-income residents who want to make modifications to their homes to improve mobility.

How much is available:

Up to $7,500 annually, with a maximum of $15,000 within a 10-year period.

Eligibility:

  1. Alberta residents of any age who use a wheelchair or a four-wheel walker for mobility, including Aboriginal people on- or off-reserve. The applicant’s gross income can’t surpass $36,900 for a single person or $46,500 for a couple, plus $9,600 for each child under age 21 living at home and attending school full-time. Income can be increased by an additional $7,131 if the application is for a dependent child under age 18 who lives at home full time.
  2. Applicants must meet property value thresholds for houses purchased within 24 months of the application date. For example, the 2014 maximum value in Calgary was $510,000; in Lethbridge, it was $300,000; for all rural areas, it was $276,000. (See http://bit.ly/1JC4Qty for current guidelines.)
  3. People with the following progressive neuro-degenerative diseases can also apply: multiple sclerosis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), muscular dystrophy, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), non-recovering stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, spina bifida and/or spinal cord injuries.
  4. More than one wheelchair user per household may apply for the grant. However, the applications must be for separate modifications on the same property.
  5. The modifications must be for the applicant’s primary place of residence, located in Alberta. Modifications are intended to help applicants access their homes, or to move easily within them. Modifications should be permanent; temporary structures will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must reside in the residence after renovations are complete.

Advisor commitment:

Moderate.

You’ll have to help the client gather financial details, which form part of the eligibility criteria. The client may also require assistance completing supplemental documentation.

Where to apply:

Send completed application forms to:

Alberta Human Services
Disability Services Division – RAMP
12th floor, Milner Building
10040-104 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5J 0Z2

Online application packages are also available at humanservices.alberta.ca/ramp.

Additional details:

Once approval has been received, homeowners have 90 days to complete the project (unless the project cannot be completed due to weather conditions). They must also submit detailed invoices from contractors and suppliers (signed and dated by the homeowner) to indicate that the project has been completed. Pictures must accompany the submission and can be emailed or mailed.

Projects that have already been completed may be submitted for grant consideration within 90 days after the completion date, following the same eligibility criteria.

Heating and Cooling Incentive Program

This program is a financial incentive that encourages Ontario homeowners to upgrade their heating and cooling systems to more energy-efficient models that save on energy costs.

How much is available:

  • $250 for Ontario residents who exchange an older furnace for a high efficiency furnace. The new furnace must have an Electronically Commutated Motor.
  • $250 for Ontario residents who exchange an older central air conditioning unit for an Energy Star-rated unit.
  • $400 for Ontario residents who exchange an older central air conditioning unit for a CEE Tier 2 unit, which has a higher energy efficiency rating.

Eligibility:

Applicant must be an Ontario resident.

Advisor commitment:

Minimal.

Hydro One runs the program, and most participation will come from the client. In order to qualify, homeowners must hire a participating contractor to purchase and install an eligible system. The contractor must:

  • be on the list of approved HVAC companies; and
  • complete and submit an online incentive form for the customer.

Hydro One will then send the customer a confirmation for approval. Once confirmation is received, the consumer receives a cheque in four to eight weeks. Consumers can track their claim progress online. They’ll need their claim number (Incentive ID) and postal code.

Where to apply:

More details about the program can be found on Hydro One’s website.

Lisa MacColl is an Ontario-based financial writer.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge

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