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Social Security Glossary of Terms

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Social Security Glossary of Terms

Current Effective Date:


Revision History:

Revised 08/05; 12/06


Excerpts from the ssa.gov website

Blind Work Expenses (SSI)

If you are blind, we do not count any earned income that you use to meet expenses in earning that income when we decide your Supplementary Security Income (SSI) eligibility and payment amount: Red Book.

Break-Even Point (SSI)

The dollar amount of total income that will (after applicable deductions are applied) reduce the SSI payment to zero in a given set of case facts. Your break-even point depends on your earned and unearned income, living arrangements, applicable income exclusions, and state supplement, if any.

Continuing Disability Review (SSDI and SSI)

Our process of obtaining complete current information about your condition to decide if your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or SSI benefits should continue.

Continuation of Medicare Coverage (SSDI)

You can receive at least 93 consecutive months of hospital and supplemental medical insurance after the Trial Work period (TWP). This provision allows health insurance to continue when you go to work and are engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

Countable Income (SSI)

The amount of money left after we have subtracted all available deductions from your total income. We use this amount to decide your SSI eligibility and payment amounts.

Deeming (SSI)

Our process of considering some of the income and resources of your parent, spouse, or sponsor (if you are an alien) to be your income and resources when you are applying for or receiving SSI benefits.

Expedited Reinstatement

Qualified individuals may request reinstatement of benefits, within 5 years of benefits having stopped, without having to file a new application. Up to 6 months of provisional benefits are available while we make a decision on the request.

Extended Period of Eligibility (SSDI)

During the 36 consecutive months following the TWP, if you qualify, we may restart your SSDI benefits without a new application, disability determination, or waiting period.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (SSDI and SSI)

We deduct the cost of items and services that you need to work because of your impairment; for example, attendant care services and medical devices, when we decide if you are engaging in SGA. It does not matter if you also need the items for normal daily activities. We can usually deduct the cost of these same items from earned income to figure your SSI payment.

SSI income

SSI income is:

    • Earned income-money received from wages, including from a sheltered workshop or work activity center, Self-Employment (self-employment) earnings, and some royalties, honoraria; and

    • Unearned income -- money received from all other sources; for example, gifts, interest, Social Security, veteran's benefits, pensions. Unearned income also includes "in-kind income" (free food, clothing, or shelter) and "deemed income" (some of the income of a spouse, parent, or sponsor of an alien).

Medicaid (SSI) (Medi-Cal in California, AHCCS in Arizona)

Medical coverage provided to a person by the state title XIX program.

Medicaid Protection for Individuals with Disabilities Who Work

A state may provide Medicaid coverage for individuals with disabilities who: have earnings that are too high to qualify under current rules; or are at least 16, but less than 65 years of age; and meet state resource and income limits. A state may also provide Medicaid coverage to these individuals when they lose coverage due to medical improvement, but still have a medically determinable severe impairment.

Medical Improvement Expected (SSDI and SSI)

When we decide you have a disabling impairment, and we also decide that the disabling impairment(s) may improve, we document that your case will need a future review.

Medicare (SSDI)

Two-part health insurance program for eligible disabled individuals and individuals age 65 or older:

    • Hospital Insurance under Medicare (Part A); and

    • Supplementary Medical Insurance under Medicare (Part B).

Medicare for Individuals With Disabilities Who Work (SSDI)

Some individuals with disabilities who have returned to work can buy continued Medicare coverage when their premium-free Medicare ends due to work activity. States are required to help pay the hospital insurance premiums for some working individuals with disabilities.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) (SSI)

Under an approved PASS, you may set aside income and/or resources over a reasonable time period which will enable you to reach a work goal to become financially self-supporting. You then can use the income and resources that you set aside to obtain occupational training or education, purchase occupational equipment, establish a business, etc. We do not count the income and resources that you set aside under a PASS when we decide SSI eligibility and payment amount.

Property Essential To Self-Support (SSI)

We do not count some or all of certain property necessary for self-support when we apply the SSI resources test.

Resources (SSI)

Resources are anything you own; for example, a bank account, stocks, business assets, real property, or personal property that you can use for your support and maintenance. We do not count all your resources when we decide your SSI eligibility.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SSDI and SSI)

We evaluate the work activity of individuals claiming or receiving disability benefits under SSDI, and/or claiming benefits because of a disability (other than blindness) under SSI. Under both programs, we use earnings guidelines to evaluate your work activity to decide whether the work activity is Substantial Gainful Activity and whether we may consider you disabled under the law. While this is only one of the tests used to decide if you are disabled, it is a critical first step in the disability evaluation. SGA


Social Security Disability Insurance authorized under title II of the Social Security Act.


Supplemental Security Income program authorized under title XVI of the Social Security Act.

Subsidy and Special Conditions (SSDI and SSI)

Supports you receive on the job that may result in more pay than the actual value of the work you perform. We use only the actual value of the work you perform when we make an SGA decision.

Trial Work Period (SSDI)

The trial work period is an incentive for the personal rehabilitation efforts of SSDI beneficiaries who work. The TWP lets you test your ability to work or run a business for at least 9 months and receive full SSDI benefits if your impairment does not improve.

Un-incurred Business Expenses

Support contributed to your self-employment effort by someone else. If you are self-employed, we deduct un-incurred business expenses from earnings when we make an SGA decision.

Unsuccessful Work Attempt

An effort to do substantial work (in employment or self-employment) which you stopped or reduced to below the SGA level after a short time (6 months or less). This change must have resulted because of your impairment, or removal of special conditions related to your impairment that was essential to the further performance of your work. We do not count earnings during an unsuccessful work attempt when we make an SGA decision.

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