If you are disabled you can start a small business with up to $23,400 from the Canadian government without losing your CP Disability
If that sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. The Federal government has an easy-to-access program that helps the disabled get back to work with self-employment.
The Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities provides income assistance for 52 to 78 weeks at $300 per week. The assistance is paid by direct deposit every two weeks.
The program is a small adaptation of the Small Business Opportunity Fund SBOF which is meant to help people get off Employment Insurance by starting self-employment.
The SBOF Disabilities requires your commitment of 25 hours a week.
Usually the program ends at 52 weeks; however, if you can demonstrate your disability will make the business start up longer the assistance lasts for 78 weeks or $23,400.
The program is taxable income but will not reduce your Canada Pension Disability until the business you start generates net income above $4.600. That helps you to get started in a small business without having your income drop.
Legitimate business expenses can be used to reduce any taxable income. Those would include things like a advertising, office supplies, home office, vehicle, computer and internet expenses.
While the official rate of unemployment among the disabled is about 15%, the real rate is higher than 30% since many persons with a disability have given up. There are also those severely disabled for whom employment of any kind is not possible. See Disabled unemployment may exceed 15% in Canada
How to Apply
The application process is slightly fragmented but here’s the quick course:
1. Apply first to your local Service Canada office. That can be the hardest part since Service Canada is downsizing and things are changing on the fly. Persevere.
2. Find your local intake organization. On PEI, the PEI Council of the Disabled is one of the intake contractors. Career Development Services is another. They will want a resume and some other brief information about your self-employment idea and the nature of your disability.
3. Work with the Provincial business development officer who helps you with a real business plan that takes the idea and says essentially “will this idea make a profit.”
The application and approval process can take 1 to 2 months so be patient. Fill out the forms and give the nice people from the government what they need to help you.
The business development officer contracts with consultants who train you on topics like making a business plan, marketing, income tax, accounting, and legal issues.
Starting a business is not a cakewalk so be prepared to learn even if you were self-employed before.
Self-employment, although somewhat complex, isn’t that hard. Lots of people start businesses.
When I could not find someone who would employ me in Halifax at a decent salary 32 years ago I started my own little business. I supported a family of 7 all these years. It proved to be the best thing that could happen on the income side.
What works with SBOF Disabilities
- After initial paperwork, the program runs like a breeze.
- It allows you to create a business idea that adapts to your disability.
- You can get all the advice and assistance you want.
- They don’t hassle you with more reports than necessary.
- It extends out to 78 weeks when you need it and ask.
- You don’t lose your CP Disability benefit
- You can deduct expenses to keep the taxable portion low
What Does not work with SBOF Disabilities
- There is no help with equipment costs.
- If your idea is a computer based home business, you will have to purchase the computer from the $300 per week. That’s a pretty big shortfall so your business idea has to be labour not capital intensive.
- I say this but the rules change so ask “Can you help me with this expense?” They can only say no.
- Self-employment is not for everyone and at the end of the grant you may not have a viable business.
However, nothing ventured nothing gained. Most small businesses started without a disability fail so go for it.
The best way to start is read everything online and start calling people and asking questions.
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