Medical & Disability

What Qualifies As Medical Expenses When Filing Taxes?

Medical expenses may be one of the most under-utilized tax credits, says Hamilton, Ontario accountant Alan Rowell. The list of eligible expenses you can claim is extensive. Even the Canada Revenue Agency stresses that its own list isn’t exhaustive, so chances are your significant medical expenses qualify when filing your taxes.

To search for your medical expenses to see if they qualify or not, or require a prescription, check back regularly to the CRA Medical Expenses chart.

Batteries and repairs qualify as medical expenses along with your hearing aid purchase cost.

Batteries and repairs qualify as medical expenses along with your hearing aid purchase cost.


Common medical expenses

Many common medical costs are eligible as expenses if they’re and not covered under your provincial health plan, though some may need to be prescribed by your doctor. Often, these expenses are straight-forward and include:

  • Public or private hospital services
  • Doctor or physician expenses (this varies by province, please visit the CRA for details)
  • Prescription drugs and medications, not including over-the-counter products
  • Pre- and post-natal treatments and in vitro fertility treatments
  • Insulin, needles and syringes and infusion pumps to treat diabetes
  • Artificial limbs or eyes
  • Travel expenses to receive medical care outside your community.
  • Contact lenses, including equipment and materials for using contacts
  • Insurance premiums for medical care coverage
  • Laboratory fees
  • Medical aids, including wheelchairs, hearing aids and batteries, eyeglasses, contact lenses, crutches, braces, and guide dogs (and their care)

Receipts are required to claim these costs and should be attached to your tax return if you file a paper copy by mail. If you file electronically, save all your receipts together in case the CRA requests these at a later date.

Not-so-common expenses

There are some less obvious expenses that may improve life for someone living with a medical condition, and may qualify as a valid medical expense for tax purposes.  Keep in mind some might require a doctor’s prescription.  Such unusual expenses include:

  • Air conditioners or furnaces that improve life for a person with a chronic condition
  • Trained animals to help the blind, deaf, physically impaired, autistic or epileptic, including care and maintenance costs such as food and veterinarian
  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery that is reconstructive or medical in nature: Artificial teeth, nose reconstructive surgery
  • Cancer treatment outside Canada, performed by a licensed practitioner
  • Speech synthesizers, bliss boards or other devices that aid and improve a person’s ability to communicate
  • Costs for purchasing gluten-free foods for those with celiac disease
  • Acoustic Coupler
  • Birth control pills prescribed by a doctor
  • Drug addiction treatment, including in-patient treatment, meals, and lodging at a therapeutic center for drug addiction
  • Computer Peripherals, if designed to be used exclusively by a blind person in the operation of a computer ([prescription required)
  • Elastic hosiery to treat blood circulation problems
  • Eye surgery, such as Lasik or a similar procedure, when it is not for cosmetic purposes only
  • Furnace – the amount paid for an electric or sealed combustion furnace to replace a furnace that is neither of these because of a person’s respiratory ailment or immune system disorder – prescription required.
  • Guide dog or other animal used by a visually-impaired, hearing-impaired or otherwise physically disabled person
  • Hospital care
  • Household help for nursing care services only
  • Legal fees paid to authorize treatment for mental illness
  • Lifetime care advance payments
  • Lodging expenses while away from home to receive medical care in a hospital or medical facility
  • Long-term care insurance and long-term care expenses (there are limitations to what you can deduct)
  • Moving Expenses – reasonable moving expenses to move a person who has severe & prolonged mobility impairment to housing that is more accessible to the person (limit $2000)
  • Nursing care
  • Nursing home expenses, including the entire cost of medical care, plus meals and lodging if the main reason for being in the home is to obtain medical care
  • Orthopedic shoes, boots, & inserts
  • Oxygen and oxygen equipment
  • Rocking Bed for a person diagnosed with poliomyelitis
  • School Expenses –  for persons with an impairment in physical or mental functions – a medical practitioner must certify in writing that the equipment, facilities, or personnel specially provided by that school are required because of the person’s physical or mental impairment.
  • Sunglasses (prescription only)
  • Teletypewriters  (the cost and repair of special telephone equipment for a hearing-impaired person)
  • Television (the cost of equipment used to display the audio part of a TV program for hearing-impaired persons, prescription required)
  • Transplant of an organ (but not hair transplants)
  • Transportation costs for obtaining medical care
  • Whirlpool Bath Treatments – the amount paid to a medical practitioner only (a hot tub that is installed in your home, even if prescribed by a medical practitioner, is not eligible).
  • Wig for a patient who has lost his or her hair due to a disease

The family members you can claim

Medical expenses for the immediate family can be claimed by either you or your spouse.

This includes either partner’s children or stepchildren who are 18 years old or younger, and these expenses are listed on line 33099 of your tax return. When others who aren’t your children or stepchildren depend on you for support, you can claim medical expenses you paid on their behalf, and those are declared on line 33199.

Any of the extended family members for whom you claim medical expenses must have been Canadian residents for all or part of the year.

Visit this link for more information on how to claim the medical expenses.

References & Resources

  • Larry West, CPA; Toronto, Ontario

Photo Credits

  • Huntstock/DisabilityImages/Getty Images