A new research paper finds that a federal government tax credit for people with disabilities isn’t reaching six out of 10 people who qualify, because they don’t have enough income for the credit to offer any benefit.

The Disability Tax Credit reduces taxes by up to about $1,200 per year -- but only for those who would otherwise pay taxes.

It was designed to help individuals who have burdensome expenses related to their disabilities, which can include things like requiring kidney dialysis, dementia, car accident injuries, mental disorders and physical disabilities.

But people like Ian Young, who suffered seven strokes that have restricted his mobility and made it difficult to work, can’t get any of the funds -- and he thinks that’s unfair.

“I would like to be able to afford equipment for myself to increase my independence,” said Young, who is a member of the Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities.

“In a prominent thriving country like Canada, I expect to see more of taking care of each other,” he added.

Carmela Hutchinson from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities agrees. “Right now it's tremendously challenging for people with disabilities at every level --- financially, socially and physically,” she said.

Researchers Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens recently calculated that 301,458 of the 499,302 adult Canadians who qualify for the credit cannot receive any benefit from it because they don’t have enough income.

Simpson said the research is proof that the tax credit is not helping the “most vulnerable among persons with disabilities – the low-income families.”

Simply changing the credit from a non-refundable credit to a refundable credit would make a big difference, Simpson said. It would mean a majority disabled people from low-income families would receive the credit, getting on average about $511. That would cost the federal treasury $72 million, the researchers estimate.

Simpson and Stevens also calculated that if Ottawa opted to make the tax credit refundable and tripled its value, “then virtually every family with a disabled person below the low income cut-off would benefit.” That would cost a lot more, however: about $516 million, they say.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said that review of tax credits is underway.

With a report from CTV’s Omar Sachedina