Introducing the 2016 Red Book

of the
Red Book

One of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) highest priorities is to support the efforts of disabled beneficiaries who want to work by developing policies and services to help them reach their employment goal. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs include a number of employment support provisions commonly referred to as work incentives.

The Red Book is a general reference tool designed to provide a working knowledge of these provisions. We write the Red Book primarily for educators, advocates, rehabilitation professionals, and counselors who serve persons with disabilities. We also expect that applicants and beneficiaries will use it as a self-help guide.

In particular, SSA recognizes the importance of supporting youth in their efforts to navigate the path toward adult life. In this edition of the Red Book, we included resources to assist youth with this transition. We provide general information to assist youth and the parents, providers, or representatives of a youth receiving SSI or SSDI to locate national and community supports and resources.

The Red Book contains a general description of our disability-related policies. For information specific to your situation regarding eligibility or benefits, you may need to contact us. You will find our contact information on HOW TO REACH SOCIAL SECURITY.

The Red Book, including the Spanish language version, is available online at: The Red Book is also available in alternative formats. See ACCOMODATIONS FOR PERSONS WHO ARE BLIND OR VISUALLY IMPAIRED for alternative media contact information.


Purpose of Employment Supports

Congress intended the employment support provisions to provide you with the assistance you need to move from benefit dependency to independence. Employment supports help you to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce by protecting your eligibility for cash payments and/or health care until you achieve this goal.

Different rules apply to benefits based on retirement or age. We cover those rules in other publications. Most SSA publications and other public information materials are available at our Internet site, Social Security Online, located at


“Plain Language”

We tried to keep the Red Book clear and brief. We followed “Plain Language” guidelines. We generally use “we,” “us,” and “our” to refer collectively to SSA, the Social Security Act, our regulations, and operating instructions. We use “you” and “your” to refer to the person who is claiming benefits based on disability.


Previous Editions

This 2016 edition replaces all previous editions.