SSR 80-22: SECTION 1612 (42 U.S.C. 1382a) SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME -- DEFINITION OF INCOME -- GIFT OF AN AIRLINE TICKET
20 CFR 416.1102(a)
- In May of 1978, the claimant traveled to Venezuela using a round trip airline ticket received from her daughter-in-law to visit the claimant's family. Subsequently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) determined that the claimant had received excess income and, thus, had been overpaid $311.00, which was the cost of the ticket, during the second quarter of 1978. The daughter-in-law had used her own credit card to charge the airline ticket. If the claimant had returned the ticket to the airline she would have received only a credit to her daughter-in-law's credit card account. Held, the cost of the airline ticket was not income to the claimant under 20 CFR 416.1102(a) because the claimant could not have converted it to cash to use for her basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Consequently, the claimant was not overpaid SSI benefits during the second quarter of 1978 and, therefore, need not refund any money to SSA.
The general issue in this case is whether the claimant received excess income which must be counted toward reducing her SSI benefits. The specific issue is whether the cost of the airline ticket to Venezuela the claimant received can be considered income, as that term is defined in the law and regulations.
The claimant was dissatisfied with SSA's determination that she must refund an overpayment of $311.00 in SSI benefits, paid during the second quarter of 1978, representing the cost of an airline ticket to and from Venezuela. The claimant received the ticket from her daughter-in-law in May, 1978 to visit her family. The daughter-in-law charged the ticket to her own credit card to be paid in small monthly installments. If the claimant had not used the ticked, she could not have received its cash equivalent, only a credit on the credit card account of her daughter-in-law. Even if the claimant had technically been able to covert the ticket to cash, the file indicates that the daughter-in-law would have asked for the money back since her gift was for the limited purpose of providing the claimant with transportation to Venezuela.
Regulation 416.1102(a) of Social Security Regulations No. 16 defines Income as follows:
- Meaning of Income. The term "income" for purposes of title XVI means the receipt by an individual of any property or service which he can apply, either directly or by sale or conversion, to meeting his basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
The case turns on the definition of income. It seems clear that the claimant could not have applied the airline ticket either directly or by sale or conversion to meeting her basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter. If she had not used the ticket, she would have received nothing. Therefore, the airline ticket was not income. Consequently, the claimant was not overpaid in SSI benefits and need not refund any money to SSA.