Red Book

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Introducing The Red Book

What's New In 2024?

Contacting Us

How Do We Define Disability?

Overview Of Our Disability Programs

Returning To Work

How Do Employment Supports Help?

Resources To Assist You Return To Work

Resources To Assist Youth With the Transition To A Successful Adulthood

SSDI and SSI Employment Supports

SSDI Only Employment Supports

SSI Only Employment Supports

Special Rules For Persons Who Are Blind

Additional Help With Health Care For Persons With Disabilities

Example of Concurrent Benefits With Employment Supports

Demonstration Projects Update


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Area Work Incentive Coordinator (AWIC)

An AWIC is an experienced employment support expert who:

  • Coordinates and conducts public outreach on work incentives in their local area.
  • Provides, coordinates, and oversees training on our employment support programs for all personnel at our local offices.

Benefit Planning Query (BPQY)

The BPQY is an important planning tool for disability beneficiaries and any person who may be developing customized services for a disability beneficiary who wants to start working or stay on the job. The BPQY provides current information about your disability cash benefits, health insurance, scheduled continuing disability reviews, representative payee, and work history, as stored in our electronic records.

Blind Work Expenses (BWE)

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 SSI eligibility and payment amount. Common examples of BWE include state and federal payroll taxes, and money spent for meals at work.

Break-Even Point

The dollar amount of total income (after we apply all applicable deductions) that will reduce the SSI payment to zero for a particular case. Your break-even point depends on your earned and unearned income, living arrangements, applicable income exclusions, and state supplement, if any.

Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB)

A person with a qualifying disability before age 22 may be eligible for child’s benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits.

The adult child — including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild, grandchild, or step grandchild — must be unmarried, age 18 or older, and have a disability that started before age 22.

Also referred to as “Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits.”

Continuation of Medicare Coverage

If your benefits stop because you are working you can receive at least 93 consecutive months of Medicare coverage after your trial work period (TWP). This provision allows your health insurance to continue even after your benefits have stopped.

Continuing Disability Review (CDR)

Our process of obtaining complete current information about your condition to decide if your SSDI or SSI benefits should continue.

Countable Income

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.

Countable Income Test

One of the tests we may use to evaluate self-employment income if you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months.

Employment Network (EN)

An EN is a qualified public or private organization under contract with us to coordinate and deliver employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services to beneficiaries who are participating in the Ticket to Work program.

Employment Supports

These assist you in finding a job, starting a business, or obtaining other support services you need to get or keep a job.

Expedited Reinstatement (EXR)

A safety net if your cash benefits end because of your work. You may request reinstatement of your benefits within 5 years of when they ended if you stop working at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level because of your impairment. You may get up to 6 months of provisional (temporary) benefits while we make a decision on your request.

Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)

A consecutive 36-month period that follows your TWP. During your EPE, you may still receive payments depending on how much you work and earn. We can pay you disability benefits during your EPE if all these apply:

  • Your condition is still disabling.
  • Your work is not SGA.
Your benefits will end if your work is substantial after the end of your EPE.

Federal Benefit Rate (FBR)

The basic benefits standards used in computing the amount of your federal SSI payments. Benefit levels differ for individuals and couples living in households and for people in Medicaid institutions. Federal benefit rates may be increased annually to reflect increases in the cost of living.

Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE)

When we make an SGA decision, we can deduct the cost of items and services that you pay out of pocket and that you need to work because of your impairment. Some examples are medicines, co-pays, service animals, counseling services, and attendant care services. 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.

Income for purposes of SSI eligibility

Income for the purposes of SSI eligibility and payment amount is:

  • Earned income – money received from wages, including from a sheltered workshop or work activity center, self-employment earnings, royalties and honoraria received for services.
Unearned income – money received from all other sources, for example, gifts, interest, pensions, Social Security, and veteran’s benefits.
Unearned income also includes “in-kind income” (shelter) and “deemed income” (some of the income of a spouse, parent, or sponsor of an alien).

Initial Reinstatement Period (IRP)

Your IRP begins with the 1st month that we reinstate your disability payments. The IRP can last for 24 months (not necessarily consecutive) and ends when you have received 24 months of payable benefits. If you receive SSDI benefits, we can pay you for any month during the IRP that your work and earnings are not SGA. If you receive SSI, the normal income counting rules apply.

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

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

Medicaid Protection for People with Disabilities Who Work

A state may provide Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities when all these apply:

  • Have earnings that are too high to qualify for SSI under current rules.
  • Are at least 16, but less than 65 years of age.
  • Meet state resource and income limits.
A state may also provide Medicaid coverage to these people when they lose coverage due to medical improvement, but who still have a medically determinable severe impairment.

Medical Improvement Expected

If we approve your claim for disability benefits, we may also decide that we expect your disabling impairment(s) to improve. If so, we will schedule your case for a future review in less than 3 years.


Health insurance program for eligible people with disabilities and people age 65 or older usually consisting of these:

  • Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance).
  • Medicare Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance).
  • Voluntary prescription drug coverage with a Prescription Drug Provider (PDP) (Part D).

Low-income beneficiaries with Medicare can get Extra Help paying their prescription drug coverage premiums by filing an application with SSA. More information is available at:

Medicare for People with Disabilities Who Work

If you have a disability and you return to work, you can buy continued Medicare coverage when your premium-free Medicare ends due to work activity. States are required to help you pay the hospital insurance premiums if you have limited income and resources but are not eligible for Medicaid.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

Under an approved PASS, you may set aside income and resources over a reasonable time that will enable you to reach a work goal to become financially self-supporting. You can use the income and resources that you set aside to obtain training or education, purchase 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.

Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries for Social Security (PABSS)

In every state, U.S. Territory and the Tribal Nations, there is an agency that protects the rights of people with disabilities. This Protection and Advocacy System administers the Social Security’s PABSS program.


Resources are anything you own. For example, bank accounts, stocks, business assets, real estate property, or personal property that you can use for your support and maintenance are considered resources. We do not count all of your resources, i.e., life insurance policies, when we decide if you are eligible for SSI.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI provides benefits to people who developed a disability or blind people who are insured by workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund. These contributions are based on your earnings (or those of your spouse or parents). Your dependents may also be eligible for benefits from your earnings record.

Social Security Disability Insurance is authorized under Title II of the Social Security Act.

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)

If you are under age 22 and regularly attending school, the SEIE allows you to have some of your earnings excluded from your income. We usually adjust the amounts we can exclude each year based on the cost-of living.

Subsidies and Special Conditions

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.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

We will evaluate your work activity if you are applying for or receiving disability benefits under SSDI, or if you are applying for payments because of a disability (other than blindness) under SSI. Under both programs, we generally use earnings guidelines to evaluate your work activity to decide whether your work is substantial, and whether we may consider you with a qualifying disability under the law.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to the aged, blind, and people with disabilities (including children) who have limited income and resources.

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

The Three Tests

We may use these tests to evaluate self-employment income when you initially apply for SSDI, and before you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months. We also use the 3 tests to determine if we can reinstate your benefits when we evaluate your work activity in the EPE.

Ticket to Work (TTW)

The TTW Program is for SSI or SSDI beneficiaries who want to work and participate in planning their employment. Participation in the TTW program increases your available choices when obtaining employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services you may need to get or keep a job. It is a free and voluntary service. When you participate in the TTW program, you are using your ticket. You might not be subject to a continuing disability review while you are using your Ticket.

Trial Work Period (TWP)

The TWP lets you test your ability to work or run a business for at least 9 months and receive full SSDI benefits if you report your work activity and your impairment does not improve.

Unincurred Business Expenses

Support contributed to your self-employment effort by someone else for example, free rent, donated supplies, or unpaid help from friends or family members. If you are self-employed, we deduct unincurred business expenses from earnings when we make an SGA decision.

Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA)

An UWA is an effort to do substantial work (in employment or self-employment) that you stopped or reduced to below the SGA level after a short time (6 months or less) because of your impairment, or the removal of special conditions related to your impairment that were essential to your work. We do not count earnings during a UWA when we make an SGA decision.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

The VR program is a public program administered by a state VR agency in each state or U.S. territory to help people with physical or mental disabilities become gainfully employed.

Work Incentives

Work incentives are designed to protect your cash and medical benefits while you work. If your benefits end because of work and you have to stop working later, work incentives can make it easier to begin receiving benefits again.

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Projects

WIPA projects are community-based organizations that receive grants from Social Security to provide Social Security and disability beneficiaries and SSI recipients, including youth in transition, free access to work incentives planning and assistance. Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWIC) are professionals who work for WIPAs, meet with beneficiaries, and provide important information about your benefits and how working would affect your Social Security income and health care.

Work Incentives Seminars Events (WISE)

A free, internet-based seminar that gives Social Security disability beneficiaries information they need to make a decision about going back to work or working for the first time. WISE topics may include Choosing a Ticket to Work Service provider, Understanding Work Incentives and more.  Some WISE address a broad range of disabilities, while others target people in specific disability categories or age ranges. WISE information may be accessed 24-hours per day at your convenience.

Social Security Administration
SSA Pub. No. 64-030
August 2023

Developed by:
Social Security Administration
Office of Retirement and Disability Policy

Produced and published at U.S. taxpayer expense