“I keep telling every family and individual I know – YOU JUST HAVE TO DO THIS!”
Sylvie Zebroff is the parent of James Martin, who is 24 years old and lives at home in Kelowna. Sylvie says James has classic autism: he is low-verbal, has a significant intellectual disability, visual and sensory processing challenges and anaphylactic allergies. He also has a great heart and is social and friendly with a lively personality.
How did you hear about the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), and when did you decide to start using one?
I heard rumblings about it when it was first announced, but I didn’t understand what an RDSP really was until I picked up a pamphlet at a family conference I was attending in 2010.
In your review, what are the best features of the RDSP?
With the matching Government Disability Savings Grant and the Canada Disability Savings Bond, it is the best return on a savings plan EVER! Really! Every dollar can be matched with up to $3 dollars from government, for the first $500 you contribute. And apparently you can even get a $150 grant to start up the savings plan, if you don’t have any money to start with. I keep telling every family and individual I know – YOU JUST HAVE TO DO THIS!
What impact do you think the RDSP will have on your son when he is eligible to begin receiving benefits from it? What does that mean to you as a parent concerned about the financial future?
The impact is that he will have some of his own financial security when he is older. This is HUGE for us, as parents. Long after we are gone, we know that he will have some resources to make some choices or have some options to do things in life he would not otherwise have. I worry that, because of the complexity of his needs, James’s world and quality of life could easily shrink as he gets older. Having some financial resources just for him that become available when he is older, helps so much with that.
Would you recommend it to others, and why?
In my work life, and in my personal life, I meet and mix with family members and persons with developmental disabilities all the time. And, really, I mention it to almost everyone I meet. In fact, I probably sound like a salesman for the RDSP because I believe in it so much! It is an absolute win-win for people.
Do you have any tips for others about the process of getting one? What were the lessons you learned from applying?
I do have some tips. I waited longer than I should have at the beginning, because I didn’t really understand it. It can seem complicated and confusing, but keep going. It gets way easier! And once it is set up and going, and the paper work is in place, it is super easy to keep going and growing, in the years ahead. You can get family and friends to contribute too, if they want to, and all that time and compound interest, PLUS matching government dollars, can really add up. I am amazed at how fast James’s RDSP is growing. He is only 24 now, so there is lots of time to develop a real nest egg. Maybe he can be an apartment owner someday. Maybe he will go on a trip, or two.
Ask your financial institution if they have anyone who really KNOWS about RDSPs. There should be at least one person at your branch who can help.
Finally, check out the PLAN website (www.rdsp.com) – it is fast and easy and has some great tools available. It is definitely worth the short-term paperwork pain for life-time gain.