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I’ve been asked to let you know that PLAN is migrating the blog onto a redesigned http://www.rdsp.com at some point in the next couple of weeks.  Our technology experts are working hard to make this migration seamless but want to ask that if things are a bit “wonky” during this period, that you please be patient, they will work to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

Thanks for your patience.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is holding two discussion groups about communication materials the government is developing that will provide information about services for eligible Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) applicants.

They are seeking parents and legal guardians of someone who is eligible for the RDSP grant and/or bond to participate. In appreciation of their time and involvement, qualified participants will receive $135.00 cash at the end of the session.

The discussions will be conducted on Wednesday,  September 1st in the evening (one group at 6:00pm, and one at 8:00pm) at a downtown location.  The groups will last 2 hours.

Participation in this project is voluntary.  All information collected will be used for research purposes only and administered according to the Privacy Act.  The names of participants will not be provided to any third party.  There are no sales involved nor will you or the participants be contacted by any organization as a result of their participation.

To register, contact Fai Vapiwalla at 1-800-277-7530 or fai@rischristie.com.

By Matthew Quetton, CEO, PLAN

Truthfully, I am terrible with money; great at spending it, terrible at saving it. When I met with a financial planner for the first time last year I realized just how much I was behind the game. Failing to buy a house as a young couple, we were now virtually locked out of the market. Without the equity of a small condo behind us, and with two young children requiring the space of at least a small 3-bedroom, we were not able to afford even the smallest space that would be suitable for us. We did have some money saved in an RRSP, thank goodness, which we’d be able to apply to a down payment should things improve. But the fact that Leslie had not returned to work for the 7 years since Theo was born continued to pose a challenge to getting ahead financially. With Theo’s daily needs and array of specialists and appointments to manage, it just hadn’t been feasible for her to return to work. With the children continuing to grow, and our housing needs with them, the prospect of home ownership continued to recede, and our hopes for security with it. Fears for Theo’s future were deeply compounded by our financial uncertainty. We were facing a future decidedly different from the one we previously assumed we’d enjoy.

Caught in the midst of this vicious cycle, we were introduced to the RDSP for the first time. Here, at last, was something to give us hope. It certainly wouldn’t solve all our problems – or Theo’s – but was finally something that seemed to offer the prospect of breaking the downward spiral we’d fallen into. Perhaps something we could rally around, maybe even getting friends and family involved. It felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Signing up was easy. In fact, it made me immensly proud to march down to the bank with our tax returns, proof of Theo’s eligibility, and sign up for the world’s first savings vehicle for people with special needs. It was pretty cool really; we qualified for something special, something not every Canadian could participate in. The hard work we did to manage Theo’s care was being rewarded, the uncertainty of our future was being recognized and supported. I was almost starting to feel like my old self again!

It went even beyond us; opening Theo’s RDSP felt like we were participating in something great. I had been contributing at PLAN for a few months and had become aware of just how large a challenge the RDSP had been for PLAN to advocate for. It went way beyond just convincing the banks to open the accounts. Securing Ottawa’s support for the Grants and Bonds was a challenge with the Finance Department. Even tougher was the challenge with the Provinces to allow for the accumulation of savings inside the RDSP without affecting elligability for disability benefits. Now, for the first time ever, being disabled did not mean being in poverty.

It was the effects of this amazing achievement I was feeling when I boasted later to my father-in-law about opening Theo’s account. As a retired commercial loans officer, he knew I wasn’t kidding when I told him it was the best investment on the planet. Normally you’d have to be Warren Buffet to get the kinds of investment returns the RDSP delivers together with the Grants and Bonds. As well, the recent change allowing my father-in-law to roll the balance of his RRSP directly into Theo’s RDSP is a huge benefit creating a significant tax savings. So we’d done it. We had entered the world of financial respectability, and he proved it by sending some checks to deposit in Theo’s account. It was a subtle but powerful shift: ee were no longer the ‘unfortunate’ destined to grovel for handouts at the pleasure of the state. We were full financial citizens, benefiting from supports from the state to be sure, but able to hold our heads high, under our own steam and with the respect of our parents and peers. We’d always been proud of our ability to make our own way, so participating in the RDSP went a long way to restoring our sense of self.

We did encounter some problems later on, however. I was notified by the bank that in fact they did not have the correct paperwork to secure the government contributions. My return trip to the bank illustrated to me just how complicated the RDSP was to manage, both for the bank and the government. The Financial Planner I met with was even more confused by the paperwork than I was, and had to make several phone calls to finally determine what was required. We got things sorted out but as an entrepreneur, it got me wondering about what the RDSP was like as a product for the bank. I happened to know some folks at Bank of Montreal and at RBC through my work at UBC so I asked them: Was the RDSP good for them? ‘Yes’, and ‘No’, they told me. ‘Yes’ in the long run, since the bank benefits from the funds on deposit. But ‘No’ in the short run. Turns out it actually costs the bank money to open an RDSP. The application is complicated and clients have a lot of questions about the grants, bonds, and withdrawal rules.

Makes sense: All that time I spent with the planner fixing our paperwork, was time she couldn’t spend with another client. Ultimately the bank is thrilled to have additional funds on deposit and knows additional business can come their way; I might open another account along with the RDSP. But I realized how much I needed to support the banks in rolling out this groundbreaking product, that, for the time being at least, was going to cost them money, but create in incredible foundation for the well-being of potentially tens of thousands of disabled Canadians.

Admittedly there are some changes still required to improve the RDSP: in Provinces without the benefit of BC’s Representation Agreement it can be tricky to administer the fund without Guardianship, the withdrawal rules deny older fund holders from the benefits of the Bond and Grant, and there’s other ways it can still be improved. But the more I learn about PLAN and other friends and champions of the RDSP, the more confident I am that their efforts will continue to improve it. Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day after all.

So while it might not be perfect – yet – the RDSP is a breakthrough for families of people with special needs. It allows us to participate credibly with our peers, moving us out of a state of legislated poverty. It helps restore our hope and dignity as we manage the daily challenges of raising a child with special needs. And it certainly makes me a little less terrible with money, which is good for Theo.

People continue to ask us about transfering their RDSP to another financial institution.  We provided an update in January and promised to post the “transfer form” when it became available. 

The transfer form was completed in May – one of our trusty bloggers dug it up for us  – THANKS!!  We’ve attached them – English and French –  for the rest of you.

HRSDC-RDSP Transfer Form(2010-04-001)English     

HRSDC-RDSP Transfer Form (2010-04-001)French

Here’s what’s posted on HRSDC’s site:

“You can transfer an existing Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) to a different participating Financial Organization by completing the necessary documents. Because a beneficiary cannot have more than one RDSP, a transfer request must be completed to move a plan from one financial organization to another. The transfer must be for the full amount existing in the plan. Partial amounts cannot be transferred. The holder of the plan must initiate the transfer and have the required form completed by both financial organizations.”

Let us know if you continue to have difficulties instigating transfers, run into transfer fees or other barriers.

PLAN’s new  Step by Step Guide (to becoming eligible, opening and managing your Registered Disability Savings Plan) is available now for free download. Just click on the following link:  Step-by-Step Guide

With support from the Investor Education Fund, the guide has been written and designed in plain language for people with disabilities and their families.  It will walk you through all the steps necessary for becoming eligible, opening and managing an RDSP.

Feel free to use it and pass it on to others who might utilize it.  Our goal is to make information about the RDSP more accessible so that more people can use the RDSP to improve their financial security.

And….let us know what you think!  Post your comments and suggestions…there will always be another iteration.

Hopefully you don’t go to sleep at night wondering how to explain payments from RDSPs. We do!!!

It would be easy to take the attitude – “It’s complicated.  I’ll learn it when I need to.”  At PLAN, we don’t think that’s good enough.  It’s an investment.  It’s an insurance policy.  It’s the future.  We want to know that it will work so we can go to sleep at night with peace of mind – that it will work for our family members. 

In planning for the future over many years, families tell us that peace of mind comes with knowledge and action.

Here’s a summary of our latest, greatest explanation of payments.  (The full detailed document is attached at the bottom of the post)

Summary Table

Payment Type Federal Government Contributions exceed Private Contributions (at the beginning of the year) Private Contributions exceed Federal Government Contributions (at the beginning of the year)
LDAP requests when beneficiary is under age 60 – permitted- maximum of LDAPs combined with other payments must be limited by formula – permitted- LDAPs limited by formula
LDAP requests when beneficiary is age 60 or over – required- maximum of LDAPs combined with other payments must equal amount determined by the formula – required- formula determines the maximum LDAP payment
Flexible DAP requests when beneficiary is under age 60 – permitted- maximum of Flexible DAPs combined with other payments must be limited by formula – permitted- no limit on amount
Flexible DAP requests when beneficiary is age 60 or over – permitted- maximum of these payments combined with other payments must equal amount determined by the formula – permitted- no limit on amount
Beneficiary-requested DAPs – permitted between the ages of 27 and 59-  maximum of these payments combined with other payments must be limited by formula – not permitted
Terminal-iIllness DAPs – permitted whenever a physician provides a certificate that the beneficiary will not live longer than 5 years- no limit on amount – permitted whenever a physician provides a certificate that the beneficiary will not live longer than 5 years- no limit on amount

Payments – Detail – May 2010

We are continuing to find that many people still haven’t heard about the RDSP, aren’t aware of the benefits (EVEN IF THEY CAN’T CONTRIBUTE!), or don’t know how it works or how to set one up.

With a number of partners in BC, Alberta and Ontario we are putting on even more  seminars, telephone seminars and, in Ontario, webinars.  If you want to check what’s available in your region, check the following links:

Ontario

– In person: http://www.communitylivingontario.ca/families-individuals/funding-services/rdsp/rdsp-sessions-schedule

– Webinars: http://plantoronto.ca/RDSPwebinars/

BC and Alberta

– In person: http://forthefuture.ca/

– Telephone seminars: http://www.plan.ca/sections/seminars.html?utm_source=forthefuture.ca&utm_medium=websitelink&utm_campaign=rdspforthefuture

Feel free to pass this on to friends, forward the links and post to websites and blogs.

If you would like easy to understand information on the new Registered Disability Savings Plan please visit www.rdsp.com.

The Government of Canda recently began its first wave of advertising around the Registered Disability Savings Plan.  The advertising campaign has been started to raise awareness of the plan, including the Canada Disability Savings Grant ($3,500 matching contributions) and the Canada Disability Savings Bond ($1,000, no contributions).

The advertising campaign will be run through national radio and print media, and is available at www.disabilitysavings.gc.ca

It includes:

2 radio advertisements: Betty’s Parent (listen here) and Sean (listen here), and;

A print advertisement: Helping People with Disabilities Save for the Future (click here).

From what we have heard, the uptake of RDSPs has been pretty good, and a lot of money has been distributed in Grants and Bonds already.  This should probably raise the awareness of the RDSP further, and will hopefully continue the momentum created by the launch of the RDSP in December of 2008.

Starting this morning, RBC began offering RDSPs to Canadians from across the country.  If you would like to view more information on RBC’s launch of the RDSP you can visit www.rbc.com/rdsp, or the french equivalent  www.rbc.com/reei.

RBC will be offering the RDSP through their RBC Advisors who you can set up an appointment with by calling 1-800-463-3863.

Remember, if you want to benefit from the 2008 Grant and Bond, make sure to set up your RDSP and contribute before March 2, 2009.  On December 23rd, 2008, the Federal Government announced that they would provide an extension to receive the 2008 Grant and Bond due to the shortened timeframe and limited number of financial institutions offering the plan.

Here is the application form from RBC if you want to take a look.  You will need to fill part of this out with the RBC Advisor.

rdsp-application__writable-pdf-3

We will keep updating the blog as soon as other financial institutions come on board!

We at PLAN would like to wish you and your families all the best for 2009. 

Looking back… 2008 was year of many accoplishments for us.  We are pleased that our many years of work have paid off:

– the RDSP is now available to people with disabilities and families across Canada

– most provinces have made the RDSP an exempt asset for the purposed of determining eligibility for disability benefits

– most provinces have exempted income that people will receive from their RDSPs so that they will not be penalized when they receive payments from their plans

– the federal goverment has extended the dead line for 2008 contributions to March 2, 2009.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have assisted us in 2008.  Without your support we would not have been successful.

Looking forward… our goal is to make sure that the 500,000 families who have relatives that qualify for the RDSP have good information.  Families’ aspirations for a good life for their loved ones is our ultimate goal: nothing less will do.

We know that this is a bold vision but we think it is worth it.  We also know that success will depend on our collaborative efforts.  Here are a couple ways that you can help:

1. Spread the word about www.rdsp.com

We are on target for over 100,000 visits to this blog in 2009 – but we need to reach 500,ooo people.  So we need your assistance.  As you make your 2009 resolutions, we ask that one of them be to spread the word.  If you have access to a website or blog, link it to www.rdsp.com.  If you have family or friends who are working to secure a good life for a loved one with a disability, send them the link.

2.  Make a charitable donation to PLAN

Time has run out for 2008 charitable contributions but its the perfect time to begin to plan for 2009.   As a small, family-lead organization, PLAN’s effectiveness depends on our many friends and allies who support our work. 

If you want more information about us, visit our website at www.plan.ca.  If you decide to support our work, you can do so online at our PLAN donations page.

See you in 2009!

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