Rising inflation is causing young families (particularly Millennials and Gen-Z parents with young children) to rethink how they are spending their money, and it’s causing them to make some hard choices about financial cuts to parts of their budgets. The health of your family should never be one of those cuts! Oftentimes, small business owners don’t have health benefits or insurance options like their corporate counterparts and if you or those on your team have young families, navigating the healthcare system can be difficult with today’s economic challenges.
Luckily, in 2023 the Government of Canada launched the “Canada Dental Benefit”, a dental grant program to help families like yours with children’s dental expenses. However, dentists typically have very long wait times for appointments and this is a limited-time program. We’ve done the research on everything you need to know about the dental grant program so that you can act fast on this helpful new opportunity!
What is the Canada Dental Benefit?
The Canada Dental Benefit is a temporary assistance program that’s been set up by the Government of Canada to help your family in financing your children’s dental expenses. As of right now, there are only two periods of eligibility. The first period covers October 1, 2022, until June 30, 2023, and the second period covers July 1, 2023, until June 30, 2024. In order to have an eligible request, your child must receive dental services during one of the two periods of eligibility.
During these periods, the parent or guardian can receive a maximum of two payments per eligible child. As a parent, you will be provided with up-front and tax-free funds that will be put towards covering your kid’s dental costs.
Who Can Apply?
In order to be eligible to apply for the Canada Dental Benefit, you must have children under the age of 12 and have an annual family income of less than $90,000. The amount you receive per child will vary depending on your annual family income. On top of this, you’ll want to check to make sure you are receiving the Canada Child Benefit as of December 1, 2022.
It is also important to note that in order to be eligible to apply, you don’t have any additional private dental care coverage and your dental care costs are not covered by another level or body of government. You must also have out-of-pocket dental expenses that need to be paid or completed, and you would’ve had to properly file your income taxes and benefit returns in the 2021 tax season.
How to Apply (Steps you Need to Take)
After making sure you are eligible to apply, it’s a pretty straightforward process. The first step you need to take is to make sure that you have your ‘My Account’ or ‘Service Canada’ account set up with the government as this is the portal through which you’ll apply.
You’ll want to have direct deposit set up with your bank. This will ensure that the money gets deposited directly into your bank account and gets to you as quickly as possible. Getting a check in the mail often takes far longer than using direct deposit so, if you are wanting the money fast, this method is the way to go!
After you’ve completed these first two steps, you’ll be able to go onto the Government of Canada website where you will find the “Get Ready to Apply” checklist which provides more detail on the program and application process and will lead you directly to where you will apply for the dental benefit. This checklist is also a useful tool for double-checking to make sure you have everything completed before you apply.
If a week has gone by and you haven’t seen much progress in your application- don’t stress out too much! The Canadian government has said that it usually takes 5-10 business days to process your request and send out your funding.
Will you need to Repay the Money?
With applying for grants, benefits, or funding from the government, there is always that question in the back of your mind, “will I need to pay this money back?” The short answer for this particular benefit is no, however, there are some exceptions to this and there are circumstances where you may have to repay the money.
One of these circumstances would be if a parent or guardian applied for the money during one of the eligible periods, but did not end up having dental care expenses for their child(ren) at that time. In this case, they would be required to pay back the full amount and reapply for the next eligible period if they desire.
It is also good to note that the law has set up a process that allows for your eligibility to be checked. This means that your employer may be contacted to make sure you’re not lying about your employment status, insurance coverage, salary, etc. With this process, there could be penalties for submitting a fraudulent claim.
You should keep any dental receipts for services that you paid for using any of the benefit money for 6 years in case the government ever needs to check your eligibility.
It’s good to be prepared and have as much information on hand as possible before applying for any sort of benefit or grant, but sometimes researching the steps for application or figuring out if you are eligible can be confusing! We hope this summary makes it easier for you to navigate the process and decide if applying for the benefit is right for you and your family!
Are you a small business owner and wondering if your earnings allow you to qualify for the Canadian Dental Benefit or other grants? Not sure what receiving benefit money means for your tax return? At UpSide Accounting, we are here to help you figure that all out. If you need help understanding your eligibility or navigating your taxes this season and would like to explore working with us, contact us here. We are here to help!