SSR 79-17: Section 1612(a)(2)(E) and (b)(6) (42 U.S.C. 1382a(a)(2)(E) and (b)(6))—Supplemental Security Income—Unearned Income—Gift from Church
20 CFR 416.1136(b) and 416.1145(b)(2)
The claimant received $236.00 from her church's emergency fund which was not in compensation for services rendered. Also, the church was not under any legal obligation to pay the money to the claimant. The claimant contended that the money should not be counted as income for Supplemental Security Income purposes since Congress did not intend such aid to be included. Held, the money received from the church constitutes a gift and as such is countable income to the claimant in accordance with sections 1612(a)(2)(E) and 1612(b) of the Social Security Act.
The general issue is whether the claimant meets the income and resources requirements for supplemental security income benefits. The specific issue is whether $236.00 the claimant received from a church emergency fund is excluded under the Social Security Act (Act) or is counted as unearned income for the second quarter of 1977.
The Social Security Administration has determined that the claimant was not entitled to supplemental security income benefits for the second quarter of 1977 because she did not meet the income requirements of the Social Security Act. At issue in this case is whether $236.00 she received from her church is excluded income or is counted as unearned income in the second quarter of 1977. The claimant contends that the $236.00 she received from the church should be considered as excluded income because Congress did not intend such aid to be included as income. Section 1612(a)(2)(E) of the Act provides that unearned income means all income other than earned income, including gifts, support or otherwise. Section 1612(b) of the Act contains a list of exclusions, but none apply to the instant case. (Section 1612(b)(6) of the Act exempts only assistance furnished by a State or a political subdivision of a State.) The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare has promulgated regulations to carry out the provisions of the Act. According to section 416.1136 of Regulations No. 16, unearned income includes all cash gifts that are not compensation for services or in fulfillment of a legal obligation on the part of the donor. Furthermore, section 416.1145(b)(2) excludes only assistance by a State agency or a political subdivision. Based on the explicit statutory provisions and the implementing regulations noted above, it is readily apparent that Congress did not intend that charitable gifts should be excluded from income.
In the instant case, the church aid constitutes a gift within the meaning of the Act and Regulations. According to section 416.1136(b), a gift is anything given to an individual which was not compensation for services and which did not result from a legal obligation on the donor's part. There is no evidence that the church was under a legal obligation to pay the claimant the money or that the payment was compensation for services rendered. Further- more, this aid clearly was not assistance paid by a State or political subdivision. Therefore, the $236.00 received from the church must be counted as unearned income for the second quarter of 1977. Counting the $236.00 as unearned income causes the claimant to fail to meet the income requirement for supplemental security income benefits during the quarter in issue. Accordingly, it is found that the claimant did not meet the income and resources requirements for supplemental security income benefits during the second quarter of 1977.