2023 Annual Report of the SSI Program

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H. Glossary
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Account.
An ABLE account is a type of tax-advantaged account that can be used to save funds for the qualified expenses of someone who became blind or disabled before age 26.1 This person is the account's “designated beneficiary.” An ABLE account can only be established through a program established by a State, State agency, or instrumentality thereof. The law generally limits the maximum total contribution to $17,000 per year, which the Internal Revenue Service periodically increases.2 The maximum balance in an ABLE account varies for each State program. An individual can be the designated beneficiary of only one ABLE account, and account contributions are excluded from the person’s income.3 The Social Security Administration (SSA) will exclude up to $100,000 of the balance in an ABLE account from consideration as a resource for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) purposes. Consequently, any account balance over the limit would count toward the beneficiary's SSI resource limit. If the designated beneficiary's resources exceed the SSI limit due to the excess account balance, SSA will suspend the SSI payment for that month, but the individual remains eligible for Medicaid.4 Additionally, SSA excludes any ABLE account distribution for a qualified disability expense that is not housing related from resources in the month it is used, or in a month the beneficiary intends to use the funds for such expenses. Upon the death of a designated beneficiary, any funds remaining in their ABLE account are used to repay the Medicaid benefits received in their life.
Administrative Expenses (or Costs).
Expenses SSA incurs in administering the SSI program. Such expenses are paid from the General Revenue Fund of the Treasury.
Affidavit of Support.
A contract under which a United States citizen or legal resident agrees to provide support to maintain (i.e., to sponsor) an immigrant as a condition of the immigrant’s admission into the United States.
Individuals aged 65 or older.
Old-Age Assistance (OAA), Aid to the Blind (AB), and Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled (APTD).
The former Federal-State programs of adult cash assistance under Titles I, X, and XVI respectively. The SSI program replaced these programs in the 50 States and the District of Columbia in 1974. The United States Department of Health and Human Services administers these programs in Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
Alien Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence.
A noncitizen lawfully accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States. Such individuals may obtain immigrant visas overseas from the Department of State or be adjusted to permanent resident status while living in the United States by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Appeal Rights Process.
Includes administrative appeals and judicial review. SSA follows an administrative review process in determining an individual's rights under the Act that typically consists of several steps: (1) reconsideration; (2) hearing; and (3) Appeals Council review. Individuals dissatisfied with the outcome of the administrative review process may request judicial review by filing a complaint in the U.S. District Court. Individuals must submit appeal requests within certain time periods. SSA introduced a modification of this process in 10 States for disability applications filed October 1, 1999 and later. Under this revised process, claimants appeal an initial disability denial by requesting an Administrative Law Judge hearing, thereby eliminating the reconsideration step. As of January 1, 2019, SSA began reinstating the reconsideration level of appeal in these States via a staged roll-out on January 1, 2019 and completed this process by March 31, 2020.
Assistance Based on Need.
Assistance provided by certain programs that use income as a factor of eligibility. The assistance must be funded wholly by a State, a political subdivision of a State, or a combination of such jurisdictions.
Values relating to future trends in certain key factors that affect the eligibility for SSI benefits and the level of such SSI payments. Demographic assumptions include fertility, mortality, net immigration, marriage, and divorce. Economic assumptions include unemployment rates, average earnings, inflation, interest rates, and productivity. Program-specific assumptions include rates of application for and new receipt of various SSI benefits and rates of termination of SSI benefits. The assumptions underlying the projections presented in this report are consistent with the intermediate assumptions of the 2023 Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trustees Report.
A noncitizen already in the United States or at a port of entry who is granted asylum in the United States. Asylum may be granted to an individual who is unable or unwilling to return to the person’s country of nationality or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution (or a well-founded fear of persecution) based on the noncitizen’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Attendant Care Services.
Services (including personal care assistance) paid for from Federal, State, or local funds and provided by a paid attendant required to assist with work-related or personal functions.
Automatic Cost-of-Living Increase.
The annual increase in the SSI Federal benefit rate (FBR), effective for January of the current year, which reflects the change in the cost of living. In general, the benefit increase equals the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) measured from the third quarter of the previous year to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase in the CPI-W, there is no cost-of-living benefit increase.
An administrative determination that an individual is eligible for an SSI benefit.
For purposes of the SSI program, the law considers an individual to be blind if the person has 20/200 or less vision in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens, has tunnel vision of 20 degrees or less, or met the October 1972 State definition of blindness and received benefits under the State’s former program of Aid to the Blind in December 1973.
Blind Work Expenses (BWE).
Any expenses incurred by a blind individual that are reasonably attributable to earning income. The BWE provision permits the exclusion of these expenses from the earned income of a blind individual. (See “Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)” for the related exclusions for disabled individuals.)
Burial Funds.
A comprehensive term that for SSI purposes includes revocable burial contracts, trusts, and other burial arrangements (including amounts paid on installment sales contracts for burial spaces), cash, accounts, or other financial instruments with a definite cash value clearly designated for the individual’s burial expenses.
An individual who is neither married nor the head of household and who is: (1) under age 18; or (2) under the age of 22 and a student regularly attending a school, college or university, or a course of vocational or technical training designed to prepare the person for gainful employment. A child 18 or older is subject to the adult definition of disability and is not subject to parental deeming.
Comparable Severity.
The phrase in the Act that defined disability for children prior to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193). Under prior law, an individual under age 18 would have been considered disabled if the person had an impairment of comparable severity to one that would disable an adult.
Consumer Price Index (CPI).
An official measure of inflation in consumer prices. In this report, all references to the CPI relate to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI‑W). The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, publishes historical values for the CPI-W.
CPI-Indexed Dollars.
Dollar amounts adjusted by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to the value of the dollar in a particular year.
Continuing Disability Review (CDR).
A periodic review of an individual’s impairment(s) to determine whether the person is still disabled within the meaning of the law for purposes of eligibility for SSI and OASDI benefits.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA).
See “Automatic Cost-of-Living Increase.”
Countable Income.
An individual’s income less all applicable exclusions. This amount is an important factor in SSI eligibility and payment amount determinations.
Countable Resources.
The amount of resources after all exclusions. This amount is an important factor in an individual’s or couple’s SSI eligibility determination. A resource may be cash or other liquid assets or any real or personal property that an individual (or their spouse) owns and could convert to cash to be used for support and maintenance. Title XVI stipulates what items are to be excluded from resources.
Current Dollars.
Amounts expressed in nominal dollars with no adjustment for inflationary changes in the value of the dollar over time.
Current-Payment Status.
Status of an SSI recipient when we pay a benefit to that person for a given month. SSI benefits for a month are usually payable on the first day of that month.
Dedicated Account.
An account in a financial institution established for a disabled or blind child to contain retroactive SSI payments that exceed six times the FBR plus State supplementation (certain smaller retroactive payments may be placed in the account once it is established). Representative payees may only use dedicated account funds for the following allowable expenses:
provided that the expense benefits the child and, in the case of the last five items, is related to the child’s impairment. A representative payee must repay money from a dedicated account that is knowingly spent on items or services that are not allowable. We exclude these accounts from resources and the interest earned is excluded from income.
The process by which we consider the income and resources of an ineligible individual to be available to a recipient when determining eligibility or payment amount. Deeming generally applies in the following situations:
Demographic Assumptions.
See “Assumptions.”
Direct Express® Debit Card.
Direct Express® is a low-cost prepaid debit card program sponsored by the Department of the Treasury that is available to OASDI and SSI beneficiaries through Comerica Bank. Beneficiaries can access their OASDI and SSI benefits by making purchases, paying bills, and getting cash at thousands of Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) and retail locations using the Direct Express® debit card.
For individuals aged 18 or older, the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. An individual under age 18 must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that results in marked and severe functional limitations and that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
Disability Determination Services (DDS).
Federally funded State agencies that make disability determinations for SSA.
Disaster Assistance.
Assistance from Federal programs and agencies, joint Federal and State programs, State or local government programs, and private organizations (e.g., the Red Cross) provided to victims of a Presidentially declared disaster.
Disposal of Resources for Less Than Fair Market Value.
Transferring resources, either liquid, real, or personal property, for less than the resources are worth.
Earned Income.
For SSI purposes, we consider wages, net earnings from self-employment, remuneration for work in a sheltered workshop, royalties on published work, and honoraria for services rendered to be earned income. The distinction between earned and unearned income is significant because we apply more generous exclusions to earned income.
Earned Income Exclusion.
The first $65 of a recipient’s monthly earnings and one-half of the earnings in excess of $65 are excluded in computing an SSI benefit.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
A special tax credit that reduces the Federal tax liability of certain low-income working taxpayers. This tax credit may or may not result in a payment to the taxpayer.
Economic Assumptions.
See “Assumptions.”
Effective Date of Application.
An application for SSI benefits is effective on the first day of the month following the date on which the application is filed, or on which the individual first becomes eligible, whichever is later.
Electronic Transfer Account (ETA).
A low-cost account, available at participating financial institutions, for recipients of certain Federal payments. Once a recipient opens an ETA, the recipient’s Federal payment will be directly deposited into that account.
Eligible Couple.
Two persons married and living together in the same household or living together as married, both being aged, blind, or disabled, and meeting the requirements for eligibility under the SSI program, including filing an application for SSI.
Eligible Individual.
An aged, blind, or disabled person who meets all the requirements for eligibility under the SSI program, including filing an application.
Emergency Advance Payments (EAP).
Special SSI payments of up to 1 month of SSI benefits that are available only at the time of initial application to those individuals who present strong evidence that they: (1) qualify for an SSI payment in the current or following month by meeting the qualifications for SSI eligibility (age, disability, blindness, citizenship, or alien status as applicable); and (2) face a financial emergency due to insufficient income or resources to meet an immediate need for food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. We recover from subsequent benefit payments the amount of the EAP an individual receives. If an individual who receives an EAP is found ineligible for SSI because the person is not blind or disabled, the amount of the EAP is waived; if the individual is found ineligible for other reasons, we treat the amount of the EAP as an overpayment.
Essential Person.
An individual whose presence in the home of an SSI recipient who was transferred from a State assistance program to SSI in January 1974 results in an increase in the FBR of the SSI recipient. The essential person must have been: (1) living in the household of the SSI recipient in December 1973 and continuously thereafter; (2) never eligible for SSI; (3) not eligible for State assistance in December 1973; and (4) taken into account when the SSI recipient’s need for State assistance was determined in December 1973.
Federal Benefit Rate (FBR).
The standard used in computing the amount of Federal SSI benefits for individuals and couples. The FBRs are subject to annual increases to reflect changes in the cost of living. (See table IV.A2.)
Fiscal Year.
The accounting year of the U.S. Government. Since 1976, a fiscal year is the 12-month period ending September 30. For example, fiscal year 2023 began October 1, 2022 and will end September 30, 2023.
Food Stamps.
See “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
General Fund of the Treasury.
Funds held by the Treasury of the United States, other than receipts collected for a specific purpose (such as Social Security) and maintained in a separate account for that purpose.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The total dollar value of all goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States, regardless of who supplies the labor or property.
Home Energy Assistance.
A Federal Government block grant program that provides funds to States for energy assistance (including weatherization) to low-income households. This assistance may be provided by a variety of agencies (e.g., State or local welfare offices, community action agencies, special energy offices, etc.) and may be known by a variety of names (e.g., Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Project Safe, etc.).
A group of two or more individuals who use a single dwelling unit separate from other individuals’ living units as their primary quarters for living and eating.
Household of Another.
We consider an individual to be living in the household of another when the individual lives with others, does not own or rent the shelter, and does not pay a pro rata share of the household’s food and shelter expenses. We do not consider an individual who provides all of their own food, or lives in a public assistance household or in noninstitutional care, to be living in the household of another. We consider an individual who is determined to be living in the household of another to be receiving in-kind support and maintenance from that household, and we reduce the person’s SSI benefit by one-third of the FBR.
Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE).
The provision that permits the exclusion from earnings of the costs of items and services needed in order for a disabled individual to work, paid for by the individual, and necessarily incurred by that individual because of a physical or mental impairment. We exclude these IRWEs from earnings when determining substantial gainful activity (SGA) or computing eligibility and ongoing SSI monthly payments. (See “Blind Work Expenses (BWE)” for the related exclusions for blind individuals.)
See “Earned Income,” “In-Kind Income”, and “Unearned Income.”
Individual Development Account (IDA).
A savings account that low-income individuals, including SSI recipients, may establish in order to save for purchasing a first home, meeting the costs of post-secondary education, or capitalizing a business. Depending on the type of IDA, the individual's earned income contributions are matched with money from either a State's TANF program or demonstration project funds, as authorized by the Assets for Independence Act.
Ineligible Spouse.
The spouse of an eligible individual, or applicant, who is not eligible for SSI benefits.
An increase in the general price level of goods and services.
Infrequent or Irregular Income.
Income received either infrequently or irregularly that we can exclude from the determination of an individual’s income. Infrequent income5 is income an individual has not received more than once in a calendar quarter from a single source.6 Irregular income is income that an individual could not reasonably expect to receive. In any given quarter, we exclude up to $30 of earned (infrequent or irregular) and $60 of unearned (infrequent or irregular) income.
Initial Determination.
A determination SSA makes about an individual’s eligibility for benefits or about any other matter that gives that person a right to further administrative or judicial review.
In-Kind Income.
Income that is not cash, but is food or shelter or something an individual can use to obtain food, shelter, or both.
In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM).
Unearned income in the form of food, shelter, or both.
Interim Assistance Reimbursement (IAR).
The process used to reimburse a State for basic assistance provided by the State to a claimant either while the claimant’s application for SSI was pending or during the period in which the claimant’s SSI benefits were suspended. SSA may reimburse a State from the claimant’s retroactive SSI payment if: (1) the State has an agreement with SSA to participate in IAR;
(2) the claimant has given SSA written authorization to reimburse the State from the retroactive payments; and (3) we find the claimant eligible for SSI benefits or for reinstatement of benefits for the same period of suspense.
Living With.
A required condition for parent-to-child and spouse-to-spouse deeming. Deeming of income and resources occurs if an eligible child lives with their ineligible parent(s) or an eligible individual lives with their ineligible spouse.
See “Passalong.”
Mandatory State Supplementation.
See “State Supplementation.”
The measuring of income and resources against specified amounts as eligibility factors for certain assistance benefits. SSI is a means-tested benefit program.
The program authorized under Title XIX of the Act, which provides medical assistance to certain low-income individuals and families and certain disabled and medically needy individuals. Medicaid is administered by the States with support from the Federal Government in the form of matching grants. The Federal Government provides guidelines to the States for formulating their programs. As a result of the flexibility of these guidelines, Medicaid programs vary widely among the States.
Medicaid Facility.
A medical treatment facility such as a hospital, extended care facility, nursing home, or intermediate care facility, where Medicaid pays more than 50 percent of the cost of a person’s care.
Medical Treatment Facility.
An institution or that part of an institution licensed or otherwise approved by a Federal, State, or local government to provide inpatient medical care and services.
A nationwide, federally administered health insurance program authorized in 1965 under Title XVIII of the Act to cover the cost of hospitalization, medical care, and some related services for most people age 65 and over. In 1972, lawmakers extended coverage to people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments for 2 years and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. Effective July 2001, people with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis became Medicare-eligible during their first 24 months of receiving SSDI payments. In 2010, people exposed to environmental health hazards within areas under a corresponding emergency declaration became Medicare eligible. Traditional Medicare consists of two separate but coordinated programs ;  Hospital Insurance (HI, also known as Part A) and Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI, also known as Part B). HI helps pay for inpatient hospital care, inpatient skilled nursing care, and hospice care. SMI helps pay for doctors’ services and other medical expenses, and supplies not covered by HI. In 2006, prescription drug coverage (also known as Part D) was added. Almost all persons who are aged 65 and over or disabled and who are entitled to Part A are eligible to enroll in Part B and Part D on a voluntary basis by paying monthly premiums.
New Recipient.
An SSI recipient in the first month of SSI payment receipt.
An individual who is not a U.S. citizen. Also referred to in welfare and immigration law as an alien. (See “Alien Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence,” “Asylee,” “Parolee,” and “Refugee.”)
Nonqualified Alien.
A noncitizen who is not in a qualified alien category for SSI eligibility purposes.
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI).
The programs established under Title II of the Act.
One‑Third Reduction.
The reduction of an individual’s SSI payment that occurs when an individual is living in the household of another. Instead of determining the actual dollar value of in-kind support and maintenance, we count one-third of the FBR as additional income to an individual living in another person’s household for a full calendar month and receiving both food and shelter from the household.
Optional State Supplementation.
See “State Supplementation.”
The  payment  of  more  than  the  amount due for any period, including any amounts of federally administered State supplementation payments.
For SSI purposes, the natural parent of the child, or the person who legally adopted the child, or the stepparent who lives in the same household as the child.
A noncitizen who appears to be inadmissible to the inspecting USCIS officer but is allowed to enter the United States because of emergency humanitarian conditions, or the noncitizen’s entry is determined to be in the public interest. Parole does not constitute a formal admission to the United States and confers temporary admission status only, requiring parolees to leave when the conditions supporting their parole cease to exist.
A requirement that States must meet in order to be eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. Any State making supplementary payments (see “State Supplementation”) after June 30, 1977, must continue making such payments and must pass along any cost-of-living increase to the FBR. Two methods are available to ensure that cost-of-living increases are passed on to the recipients.
Payment Levels Method — States may not lower their supplementary payment for any of the living arrangement categories below their adjusted March 1983 levels. The adjusted level is the State’s March 1983 payment level minus that portion of the July 1983 increase in the FBR that was not attributable to the increase in the cost of living (i.e., $10.30 per individual and $15.40 per couple).
Total Expenditures Method — State expenditures for supplementary payments in the current calendar year must at least equal expenditures in the preceding calendar year. If expenditures are less in the current year (shortfall), the State must increase expenditures in the next calendar year by an amount at least equal to the shortfall.
Past-Due Benefits.
The total amount of SSI payments accumulated because of a favorable administrative or judicial determination or decision, up to but not including the month the determination is made and excluding any corresponding windfall offset amounts.
Personal Needs Allowance.
The amount allowed for an institutionalized recipient’s personal needs (currently $30). If an SSI recipient is in a Medicaid facility, the law requires that the SSI benefit be used only for the recipient’s personal needs (i.e., that the institution cannot retain the benefit in repayment of the cost of the individual’s care).
Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS).
A plan that permits a disabled or blind SSI recipient to set aside income (earned or unearned) or resources for a work goal. The income and resources set aside under a PASS are used to pay for goods or services needed to reach that goal, such as education, vocational training, starting a business, or purchasing work-related equipment. We exclude income and resources set aside under a PASS from SSI income and resources. SSA must approve an individual’s PASS.
Presumptive Disability or Blindness.
A finding that SSI payments may be made before SSA makes a formal determination as to whether or not the individual is disabled or blind. The individual’s impairment must be apparent and meet specified criteria. In addition, the individual must meet all other requirements for eligibility. These payments may be made for no more than 6 months. The presumptive payments will not be considered overpayments if SSA later determines that the individual is not blind or disabled.
Property Essential to Self-Support.
The real and personal property used in a trade or business, nonbusiness income-producing property, and property used to produce goods or services essential to the individual’s daily activities. We may exclude property essential to self-support from resources under certain conditions.
Proration of Benefits.
The method of computing payment amounts in months in which the individual reacquires eligibility after a month or more of ineligibility. In such months, we will pay an individual’s SSI benefit according to the number of days in the month that the person is eligible, beginning with the first day in the month on which the person meets all eligibility requirements. In order to determine the benefit payable in a prorated month, SSA counts the number of days an individual is eligible in the month. We then multiply the amount of the person’s regular monthly payment by the number of days for which the person is eligible for benefits. Finally, we divide that figure by the number of days in the month for which the benefit is being determined. The resulting amount is the amount due for the prorated month. The statute eliminated proration for months of initial eligibility for all claims filed August 22, 1996 and later.
Public Emergency Shelter for the Homeless.
A shelter for homeless individuals that provides food, a place to sleep, and some services.
Public Institution.
An institution operated by or controlled by the Federal Government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State, such as a city or county.
Publicly Operated Community Residence.
A facility that provides food and shelter and some other service such as social services, help with personal living activities, training in socialization and life skills, or occasional or incidental medical or remedial care. In order to be publicly operated, it must be operated or controlled by the Federal Government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State, such as a city or county. The facility must serve no more than 16 residents and must be located in a community setting.
Qualified Alien.
An individual who is:
Qualifying Quarter of Earnings.
Credit for a requisite amount of earnings assigned to a calendar quarter for the purpose of determining the SSI eligibility of a lawfully admitted permanent resident.
Quarter of Coverage.
The crediting of coverage needed for insured status under the Social Security program. In 2023, a worker receives one quarter of coverage (up to a total of four a year) for each $1,640 of annual covered earnings reported from employment or self-employment. For years after 1978, the amount of earnings required for a quarter of coverage is subject to annual automatic increases in proportion to increases in average wages.
A person who is receiving SSI payments based on an evaluation of the person’s countable income and resources, age, disability status, and other eligibility criteria.
The first step in the administrative review process if an individual is dissatisfied with SSA’s initial determination. See “Appeal Rights Process.”
A review of eligibility for SSI recipients to ensure that certain requirements for eligibility continue to be met. There are two types of redeterminations:
A noncitizen outside of their country of nationality who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of nationality or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution (or a well-founded fear of persecution) based on the noncitizen’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Unlike asylees, refugees apply for and receive this status prior to entry into the United States.
Relocation Assistance.
A type of assistance provided to persons displaced by projects that acquire real property. Examples of types of reimbursement, allowances, and help provided are:
Representative Payee.
A person who receives SSI payments on behalf of an SSI recipient. SSA will pay benefits to a representative payee on behalf of an individual 18 years old or older when it appears that such method of payment will be in the interest of the individual. A representative payee will be appointed if the individual is legally incompetent or mentally or physically incapable of managing or directing the management of the person’s benefits. Also, in general, if the individual is under age 18, a representative payee will be appointed. The law and regulations require that a recipient under age 15 have a representative payee.
Resident of a Public Institution.
An individual who can receive substantially all of their food and shelter while living in a public institution is considered a resident of the public institution. Generally, an individual who is a resident of a public institution throughout a month is ineligible for SSI.
Resident of the United States.
A person who has established an actual dwelling place within the geographical limits of the United States with the intent to continue to live in the United States. (See “United States.”)
The cash, other liquid assets, or any real  or personal  property of an individual (or their spouse) that the person could use or could convert to cash to be used for their support and maintenance.
Retroactive Payments.
The SSI payments made in a month later than the month or months in which they were due.
Retrospective Monthly Accounting.
The calculation method used in the SSI program to determine an individual’s eligibility for each month. Retrospective monthly accounting has two parts: (1) an eligibility determination; and (2) a payment computation. If the individual is ineligible based on the current month’s factors (including the current month’s countable income), no payment is due and we make no payment. If the individual is eligible based on the current month’s factors, we compute the payment. The benefit for a month is generally based on the individual’s countable income in the second month prior to the current month. However, at the start of a period of eligibility or re-eligibility, we determine the amount of benefits for both the first and second months using the income received in the first month.
Section 1619(a) Status.
The special SSI cash benefits provided to disabled individuals who lose eligibility for SSI benefits under the regular rules because they have earnings at the level ordinarily considered substantial gainful activity.
Section 1619(b) Status.
The special SSI recipient status for Medicaid purposes provided to working disabled or blind individuals when their earnings, in conjunction with other income, make them ineligible for regular or special SSI cash payments.
See “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).”
Social Security Act.
Provisions of the law governing most operations of the Social Security programs. The original Act is Public Law 74-271, enacted August 14, 1935. With subsequent amendments, the Act consists of 21 titles, of which three have been repealed. In particular, five titles of the Act authorized the following programs:
Social Security Area Population.
The population comprised of: (1) residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia (adjusted for net census undercount); (2) civilian residents of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands; (3) Federal civilian employees and persons in the U.S. Armed Forces abroad and their dependents; (4) non-citizens living abroad who are insured for Social Security benefits; and (5) all other U.S. citizens abroad.
An individual who has signed an affidavit of support for a non-citizen entering the country.
State Supplementation.
The payments made by a State or one of its political subdivisions to aged, blind, or disabled individuals.
Administration — The governmental unit responsible for administering State supplementation payments may be either a State or local agency, or SSA. Under State administration, the State must absorb both program benefits and administrative costs. Under Federal administration, the State is responsible for the program benefits and, for fiscal year 2023, pays a $14.35 administrative fee for each benefit paid. This fee is subject to annual increases to reflect changes in the cost of living.
Mandatory Supplementation — The supplementary payments made only to recipients converted to the SSI program from former State assistance programs at the inception of the SSI program. The law requires mandatory minimum State supplementation payments to maintain the December 1972 payment levels that these recipients received under the former State assistance programs. The law also requires States to provide the supplementation to maintain their Federal matching funds for Medicaid.
Optional Supplementation — The payments made by States to help persons meet needs not fully covered by Federal SSI benefits. The State determines whether it will make a payment, to whom, and in what amount. These supplements, paid on a regular basis, are intended to cover such items as food, shelter, clothing, utilities, and other daily necessities. Some States provide optional supplementary payments to all persons eligible for SSI benefits, while others may limit them to certain SSI recipients such as the blind or residents of domiciliary-care facilities, or they may extend payments to persons ineligible for SSI because of SSI income.
Statutory Blindness.
See “Blind.”
An individual who is regularly attending a school, college or university, or a course of vocational or technical training designed to prepare the person for gainful employment.
Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE).
An earned income exclusion for a student under age 22 with certain limitations established by regulations. The amounts of earned income that can be excluded are subject to monthly and calendar year limits that are subject to annual changes consistent with changes in the cost of living. See table V.E1 for the history of maximum monthly and calendar year exclusion amounts.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
The level of work activity used to establish disability. For SSI applicants age 18 or older, a finding of disability requires that a person be unable to engage in SGA. A person who is not statutorily blind and is earning above the SGA level in a month (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. According to regulation, SSA bases yearly increases in the SGA level on increases in the national average wage index. See table V.E1 for the history of SGA level amounts.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Department of Agriculture, under cooperative Federal-State agreements, issues SNAP benefits in the form of paper food coupons (commonly known as food stamps) and through electronic benefit transfer to provide nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families. Recipients can use SNAP benefits only to buy food at stores authorized by the Department of Agriculture to accept them. Prior to October 1, 2008, SNAP was known as the Federal Food Stamp Program.
Supplemental Security Record (SSR).
The computerized database maintained by SSA and containing identifying information, income, resources, and other eligibility factors, for all SSI recipients. The SSR includes the history of SSI payments made to an individual.
An ineligibility status that causes the nonpayment of benefits for a period of generally anywhere from 1 to 12 months for any of a number of reasons such as income or resources over allowable levels, absence from the United States, residence in a public institution, etc. Benefits can resume without reapplication when all requirements for entitlement are again met. A period of suspension that lasts more than 12 months (24 months for individuals who were made ineligible because of their spouses or parent being called to active military duty) generally results in a termination of the SSI record. (Once a record is terminated, reapplication is necessary.)
See “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).”
Temporary Absence.
An individual’s physical move from their permanent place of residence that does not constitute a change in living arrangement. In general, a temporary absence is an absence from a permanent residence that is not intended to, and does not, exceed a full calendar month.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
The State grant program of assistance for needy families established by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193). TANF replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program.
For an individual, cessation of benefits, which can occur for a number of reasons, including death, medical improvement, or a period of suspension lasting longer than 12 months, generally.
As used in section IV, the total of (1) deaths while in current-payment status during a period plus (2) the number of persons during that same period moving out of payment status into suspended status less those returning to payment status from suspended status.
Ticket to Work Program (TTW).
The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 established a voluntary Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program (Ticket to Work program) under which a blind or disabled beneficiary may obtain vocational rehabilitation (VR), employment, and other support services from a qualified private or public provider referred to as an “employment network,” or from a State VR agency.
A legal arrangement involving property and ownership interests. Generally, we consider property held in a trust to be a resource for SSI purposes if the assets of the trust could be used for the benefit of the individual or spouse.
See “Ticket to Work Program (TTW).”
Unearned Income.
The income that is not earned income. Unearned income may be in cash or in kind. Some examples of unearned income are:
United States.
For purposes of the SSI program, the United States consists of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).
Services provided to disabled people to help them to enter or return to gainful employment. VR services are designed to provide an individual with the training or other services that are needed to return to work, to begin working, or to enter a new line of work. The General Fund of the Treasury, and the OASDI trust funds in the case of individuals also receiving Social Security disability benefits, reimburse the providers of such services only in those cases where the services contributed to the successful rehabilitation of the recipients.
Windfall Offset.
A provision to prevent a person from receiving monthly SSI and OASDI benefits in excess of the total amount that would have been paid if the OASDI benefits had been paid when they were due rather than retroactively.
Work Incentives.
Provisions in the SSI program that are intended to act as incentives for disabled or blind individuals to work. Examples of work incentives under the SSI program are:

Section 124 of the Secure Act of 2022 adjusted the age requirements for individuals who wish to establish an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account from 26 to 46 effective with tax year 2026. The Secure Act of 2022 was enacted on December 29, 2022 as Division T in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (Public Law 117-328).

Public Law 115-97 changed ABLE account rules to allow an ABLE account’s designated beneficiary to contribute additional amounts to their ABLE account if the person worked and didn’t contribute to certain retirement accounts. Such additional contribution is limited to the lesser of the beneficiary’s compensation or the amount of the poverty line for a one-person household.

Contributions are not excluded from the income of the person contributing.

In other words, the individual can receive monthly payments again without having to file a new application if the ABLE account balance drops below the limit and the individual continues to meet the other eligibility requirements for the SSI program.

We modified the definition of infrequent income in final rules published on August 9, 2006 (71 FR 45375). Previously, we defined infrequent income as income not received more than once a quarter from a single source.

Also, infrequent income is income that an individual has not received in two consecutive months, regardless of whether these payments occur in different calendar quarters.

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