(a) General. When we figure your earnings in deciding if you have done substantial gainful activity, we will subtract the reasonable costs to you of certain items and services which, because of your impairment(s), you need and use to enable you to work. The costs are deductible even though you also need or use the items and services to carry out daily living functions unrelated to your work. Paragraph (b) of this section explains the conditions for deducting work expenses. Paragraph (c) of this section describes the expenses we will deduct. Paragraph (d) of this section explains when expenses may be deducted. Paragraph (e) of this section describes how expenses may be allocated. Paragraph (f) of this section explains the limitations on deducting expenses. Paragraph (g) of this section explains our verification procedures.
(3) You pay the cost of the item or service. No deduction will be allowed to the extent that payment has been or will be made by another source. No deduction will be allowed to the extent that you have been, could be, or will be reimbursed for such cost by any other source (such as through a private insurance plan, Medicare or Medicaid, or other plan or agency). For example, if you purchase crutches for $80 but you were, could be, or will be reimbursed $64 by some agency, plan, or program, we will deduct only $16;
(c) What expenses may be deducted—(1) Payments for attendant care services. (i) If because of your impairment(s) you need assistance in traveling to and from work, or while at work you need assistance with personal functions (e.g., eating, toileting) or with work-related functions (e.g., reading, communicating), the payments you make for those services may be deducted.
(ii) If because of your impairment(s) you need assistance with personal functions (e.g., dressing, administering medications) at home in preparation for going to and assistance in returning from work, the payments you make for those services may be deducted.
(iii)(A) We will deduct payments you make to a family member for attendant care services only if such person, in order to perform the services, suffers an economic loss by terminating his or her employment or by reducing the number of hours he or she worked.
(B) We consider a family member to be anyone who is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, whether or not that person lives with you.
(iv) If only part of your payment to a person is for services that come under the provisions of paragraph (c)(1) of this section, we will only deduct that part of the payment which is attributable to those services. For example, an attendant gets you ready for work and helps you in returning from work, which takes about 2 hours a day. The rest of his or her 8 hour day is spent cleaning your house and doing your laundry, etc. We would only deduct one-fourth of the attendant's daily wages as an impairment-related work expense.
(2) Payments for medical devices. If your impairment(s) requires that you utilize medical devices in order to work, the payments you make for those devices may be deducted. As used in this subparagraph, medical devices include durable medical equipment which can withstand repeated use, is customarily used for medical purposes, and is generally not useful to a person in the absence of an illness or injury. Examples of durable medical equipment are wheelchairs, hemodialysis equipment, canes, crutches, inhalators and pacemakers.
(3) Payments for prosthetic devices. If your impairment(s) requires that you utilize a prosthetic device in order to work, the payments you make for that device may be deducted. A prosthetic device is that which replaces an internal body organ or external body part. Examples of prosthetic devices are artificial replacements of arms, legs and other parts of the body.
(4) Payments for equipment. (i) Work-related equipment. If your impairment(s) requires that you utilize special equipment in order to do your job, the payments you make for that equipment may be deducted. Examples of work-related equipment are one-hand typewriters, vision aids, sensory aids for the blind, telecommunication devices for the deaf and tools specifically designed to accommodate a person's impairment(s).
(ii) Residential modifications. If your impairment(s) requires that you make modifications to your residence, the location of your place of work will determine if the cost of these modifications will be deducted. If you are employed away from home, only the cost of changes made outside of your home to permit you to get to your means of transportation (e.g., the installation of an exterior ramp for a wheelchair confined person or special exterior railings or pathways for someone who requires crutches) will be deducted. Costs relating to modifications of the inside of your home will not be deducted. If you work at home, the costs of modifying the inside of your home in order to create a working space to accommodate your impairment(s) will be deducted to the extent that the changes pertain specifically to the space in which you work. Examples of such changes are the enlargement of a doorway leading into the workspace or modification of the workspace to accommodate problems in dexterity. However, if you are self-employed at home, any cost deducted as a business expense cannot be deducted as an impairment-related work expense.
(iii) Nonmedical appliances and equipment. Expenses for appliances and equipment which you do not ordinarily use for medical purposes are generally not deductible. Examples of these items are portable room heaters, air conditioners, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and electric air cleaners. However, expenses for such items may be deductible when unusual circumstances clearly establish an impairment-related and medically verified need for such an item because it is essential for the control of your disabling condition, thus enabling you to work. To be considered essential, the item must be of such a nature that if it were not available to you there would be an immediate adverse impact on your ability to function in your work activity. In this situation, the expense is deductible whether the item is used at home or in the working place. An example would be the need for an electric air cleaner by an individual with severe respiratory disease who cannot function in a non-purified air environment. An item such as an exercycle is not deductible if used for general physical fitness. If it is prescribed and used as necessary treatment of your impairment and necessary to enable you to work, we will deduct payments you make toward its cost.
(5) Payments for drugs and medical services. (i) If you must use drugs or medical services (including diagnostic procedures) to control your impairment(s) the payments you make for them may be deducted. The drugs or services must be prescribed (or utilized) to reduce or eliminate symptoms of your impairment(s) or to slow down its progression. The diagnostic procedures must be performed to ascertain how the impairment(s) is progressing or to determine what type of treatment should be provided for the impairment(s).
(ii) Examples of deductible drugs and medical services are anticonvulsant drugs to control epilepsy or anticonvulsant blood level monitoring; antidepressant medication for mental disorders; medication used to allay the side effects of certain treatments; radiation treatment or chemotherapy for cancer patients; corrective surgery for spinal disorders; electroencephalograms and brain scans related to a disabling epileptic condition; tests to determine the efficacy of medication on a diabetic condition; and immunosuppressive medications that kidney transplant patients regularly take to protect against graft rejection.
(iii) We will only deduct the costs of drugs or services that are directly related to your impairment(s). Examples of non-deductible items are routine annual physical examinations, optician services (unrelated to a disabling visual impairment) and dental examinations.
(6) Payments for similar items and services—(i) General. If you are required to utilize items and services not specified in paragraphs (c) (1) through (5) of this section but which are directly related to your impairment(s) and which you need to work, their costs are deductible. Examples of such items and services are medical supplies and services not discussed above, the purchase and maintenance of a dog guide which you need to work, and transportation.
(ii) Medical supplies and services not described above. We will deduct payments you make for expendable medical supplies, such as incontinence pads, catheters, bandages, elastic stockings, face masks, irrigating kits, and disposable sheets and bags. We will also deduct payments you make for physical therapy which you require because of your impairment(s) and which you need in order to work.
(iii) Payments for transportation costs. We will deduct transportation costs in these situations:
(A) Your impairment(s) requires that in order to get to work you need a vehicle that has structural or operational modifications. The modifications must be critical to your operation or use of the vehicle and directly related to your impairment(s). We will deduct the costs of the modifications, but not the cost of the vehicle. We will also deduct a mileage allowance for the trip to and from work. The allowance will be based on data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration relating to vehicle operating costs.
(B) Your impairment(s) requires you to use driver assistance, taxicabs or other hired vehicles in order to work. We will deduct amounts paid to the driver and, if your own vehicle is used, we will also deduct a mileage allowance, as provided in paragraph (c)(6)(iii)(A) of this section, for the trip to and from work.
(C) Your impairment(s) prevents your taking available public transportation to and from work and you must drive your (unmodified) vehicle to work. If we can verify through your physician or other sources that the need to drive is caused by your impairment(s) (and not due to the unavailability of public transportation), we will deduct a mileage allowance, as provided in paragraph (c)(6)(iii)(A) of this section, for the trip to and from work.
(7) Payments for installing, maintaining, and repairing deductible items. If the device, equipment, appliance, etc., that you utilize qualifies as a deductible item as described in paragraphs (c) (2), (3), (4) and (6) of this section, the costs directly related to installing, maintaining and repairing these items are also deductible. (The costs which are associated with modifications to a vehicle are deductible. Except for a mileage allowance, as provided for in paragraph (c)(6)(iii) of this section, the costs which are associated with the vehicle itself are not deductible.)
(d) When expenses may be deducted—(1) Effective date. To be deductible an expense must be incurred after November 30, 1980. An expense may be considered incurred after that date if it is paid thereafter even though pursuant to a contract or other arrangement entered into before December 1, 1980.
(2) Payments for services. A payment you make for services may be deducted if the services are received while you are working and the payment is made in a month you are working. We consider you to be working even though you must leave work temporarily to receive the services.
(3) Payments for items. A payment you make toward the cost of a deductible item (regardless of when it is acquired) may be deducted if payment is made in a month you are working. See paragraph (e)(4) of this section when purchases are made in anticipation of work.
(e) How expenses are allocated—(1) Recurring expenses. You may pay for services on a regular periodic basis, or you may purchase an item on credit and pay for it in regular periodic installments or you may rent an item. If so, each payment you make for the services and each payment you make toward the purchase or rental (including interest) is deductible in the month it is made.
Example: B starts work in October 1981 at which time she purchases a medical device at a cost of $4,800 plus interest charges of $720. Her monthly payments begin in October. She earns and receives $400 a month. The term of the installment contract is 48 months. No downpayment is made. The monthly allowable deduction for the item would be $115 ($5520 divided by 48) for each month of work during the 48 months.
(2) Nonrecurring expenses. Part or all of your expenses may not be recurring. For example, you may make a one-time payment in full for an item or service or make a downpayment. If you are working when you make the payment we will either deduct the entire amount in the month you pay it or allocate the amount over a 12 consecutive month period beginning with the month of payment, whichever you select.
Example: A begins working in October 1981 and earns $525 a month. In the same month he purchases and pays for a deductible item at a cost of $250. In this situation we could allow a $250 deduction for October 1981, reducing A's earnings below the SGA level for that month. If A's earnings had been $15 above the SGA earnings amount, A probably would select the option of projecting the $250 payment over the 12-month period, October 1981-September 1982, giving A an allowable deduction of $20.83 a month for each month of work during that period. This deduction would reduce A's earnings below the SGA level for 12 months.
(3) Allocating downpayments. If you make a downpayment we will, if you choose, make a separate calculation for the downpayment in order to provide for uniform monthly deductions. In these situations we will determine the total payment that you will make over a 12 consecutive month period beginning with the month of the downpayment and allocate that amount over the 12 months. Beginning with the 13th month, the regular monthly payment will be deductible. This allocation process will be for a shorter period if your regular monthly payments will extend over a period of less than 12 months.
Example 1. C starts working in October 1981, at which time he purchases special equipment at a cost of $4,800, paying $1,200 down. The balance of $3,600, plus interest of $540, is to be repaid in 36 installments of $115 a month beginning November 1981. C earns $500 a month. He chooses to have the downpayment allocated. In this situation we would allow a deduction of $205.42 a month for each month of work during the period October 1981 through September 1982. After September 1982, the deduction amount would be the regular monthly payment of $115 for each month of work during the remaining installment period. Explanation: Downpayment in 10/81 $1,200 Monthly payments 11/81 through 09/82 1,265 12) 2,465 = $205.42
Example 2. D, while working, buys a deductible item in July 1981, paying $1,450 down. However, his first monthly payment of $125 is not due until September 1981. D chooses to have the downpayment allocated. In this situation we would allow a deduction of $225 a month for each month of work during the period July 1981 through June 1982. After June 1982, the deduction amount would be the regular monthly payment of $125 for each month of work. Explanation: Downpayment in 07/81 $1,450 Monthly payments 09/81 through 06/82 1,250 12) 2,700 = $225
(4) Payments made in anticipation of work. A payment toward the cost of a deductible item that you made in any of the 11 months preceding the month you started working will be taken into account in determining your impairment-related work expenses. When an item is paid for in full during the 11 months preceding the month you started working the payment will be allocated over the 12-consecutive month period beginning with the month of the payment. However, the only portion of the payment which may be deductible is the portion allocated to the month work begins and the following months. For example, if an item is purchased 3 months before the month work began and is paid for with a one-time payment of $600, the deductible amount would be $450 ($600 divided by 12, multiplied by 9). Installment payments (including a downpayment) that you made for a particular item during the 11 months preceding the month you started working will be totaled and considered to have been made in the month of your first payment for that item within this 11 month period. The sum of these payments will be allocated over the 12-consecutive month period beginning with the month of your first payment (but never earlier than 11 months before the month work began). However, the only portion of the total which may be deductible is the portion allocated to the month work begins and the following months. For example, if an item is purchased 3 months before the month work began and is paid for in 3 monthly installments of $200 each, the total payment of $600 will be considered to have been made in the month of the first payment, that is, 3 months before the month work began. The deductible amount would be $450 ($600 divided by 12, multiplied by 9). The amount, as determined by these formulas, will then be considered to have been paid in the first month of work. We will deduct either this entire amount in the first month of work or allocate it over a 12-consecutive month period beginning with the first month of work, whichever you select. In the above examples, the individual would have the choice of having the entire $450 deducted in the first month of work or of having $37.50 a month ($450 divided by 12) deducted for each month that he works over a 12-consecutive month period, beginning with the first month of work. To be deductible the payments must be for durable items such as medical devices, prostheses, work-related equipment, residential modifications, nonmedical appliances and vehicle modifications. Payments for services and expendable items such as drugs, oxygen, diagnostic procedures, medical supplies and vehicle operating costs are not deductible for purposes of this paragraph.
(f) Limits on deductions. (1) We will deduct the actual amounts you pay towards your impairment-related work expenses unless the amounts are unreasonable. With respect to durable medical equipment, prosthetic devices, medical services, and similar medically-related items and services, we will apply the prevailing charges under Medicare (part B of title XVIII, Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled) to the extent that this information is readily available. Where the Medicare guides are used, we will consider the amount that you pay to be reasonable if it is no more than the prevailing charge for the same item or service under the Medicare guidelines. If the amount you actually pay is more than the prevailing charge for the same item under the Medicare guidelines, we will deduct from your earnings the amount you paid to the extent you establish that the amount is consistent with the standard or normal charge for the same or similar item or service in your community. For items and services that are not listed in the Medicare guidelines, and for items and services that are listed in the Medicare guidelines but for which such guides cannot be used because the information is not readily available, we will consider the amount you pay to be reasonable if it does not exceed the standard or normal charge for the same or similar item(s) or service(s) in your community.
(2) Impairment-related work expenses are not deducted in computing your earnings for purposes of determining whether your work was “services” as described in § 404.1592(b).
(3) The decision as to whether you performed substantial gainful activity in a case involving impairment-related work expenses for items or services necessary for you to work generally will be based upon your “earnings” and not on the value of “services” you rendered. (See §§ 404.1574(b)(6) (i) and (ii), and 404.1575(a)). This is not necessarily so, however, if you are in a position to control or manipulate your earnings.
(5) No deduction will be allowed to the extent that any other source has paid or will pay for an item or service. No deduction will be allowed to the extent that you have been, could be, or will be, reimbursed for payments you made. (See paragraph (b)(3) of this section.)
(6) The provisions described in the foregoing paragraphs of this section are effective with respect to expenses incurred on and after December 1, 1980, although expenses incurred after November 1980 as a result of contractual or other arrangements entered into before December 1980, are deductible. For months before December 1980 we will deduct impairment-related work expenses from your earnings only to the extent they exceeded the normal work-related expenses you would have had if you did not have your impairment(s). We will not deduct expenses, however, for those things which you needed even when you were not working.
(g) Verification. We will verify your need for items or services for which deductions are claimed, and the amount of the charges for those items or services. You will also be asked to provide proof that you paid for the items or services.
[48 FR 21936, May 16, 1983]