Glossary of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Terms

By / March 3, 2016 / SSI Benefits / 2 Comments

Review this SSI Glossary and learn the meaning of terms that affect an SSI application for children and adults.

When filing an SSI application for children, the term “child” has several meanings. For purposes of determining disability, a child is a person who is under age eighteen.

For purposes of determining eligibility for the Student Earned Income Exclusion, a child is a person who is neither married nor head of a household and who is under age twenty-two and attending school regularly, as determined by the Social Security Administration. For information about the special Student Earned Income Exclusion, please see our article How Does Attending School Affect My SSI?


Disability Status?
For purposes of calculating deemed income from parent to child, the disabled child must be under age eighteen, unmarried and living with a parent. “Ineligible child” means a child who is unmarried, who is under age eighteen or under age twenty-two and a student, who lives at home with his or her parents, and does not receive SSI benefits,. When a child is temporarily away at school, he or she is still considered to be a child for deeming.

SSI Disability (Children)
A child is disabled for SSI purposes if he or she has “a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that causes marked and severe functional limitations and that can be expected to cause death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.”

SSI Disability (Adults)
For adults, disability is defined as “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.” This definition of disability is also used for Social Security Disability, known as SSD or SSDI.

Deemed Income
Deemed income is the portion of an ineligible spouse’s, ineligible parent’s or ineligible step-parent’s, sponsor’s, or Essential Person’s income that is considered or “deemed” to be available to the SSI-eligible spouse, SSI-eligible child, SSI-eligible sponsored non-citizen, or SSI-eligible individual who is receiving a payment increment for an Essential Person. Deemed income is included in calculating whether an adult or child meets the SSI income requirements.

Deemed Resources
Deemed resources is the portion of an ineligible spouse’s, ineligible parent’s or ineligible step-parent’s, sponsor’s, or Essential Person’s assets that are deemed, that is considered, to be available to an SSI-eligible spouse, SSI-eligible child, sponsored SSI-eligible noncitizen, or SSI-eligible individual who is receiving a payment increment for an Essential Person. Deemed resources are included in calculating whether an individual’s resources are below the SSI resource limit.

Earned Income
Any income that you receive as the result of work that you have performed either as an employee or through self-employment. Earned income for employees is gross wages. Earned income for self-employed workers is net income.

Essential Person
An essential person is a person who has been living in the SSI recipient’s household since December 1973—prior to the inception of SSI on January 1, 1974—and whose needs were considered when determining the amount of cash assistance the qualified individual received from the state.

Federal Benefit Rate
The Federal Benefit Rate is the maximum SSI payment an individual or eligible couple can receive if they have no countable income. The Federal Benefit Rate for persons living in an institution is different from the rates for eligible persons living in a household.

Gross Income
Gross income is the amount an employee earns before any payroll deductions for taxes, garnishments, or voluntary deductions such as insurance premiums.

Not eligible for SSI benefits.

In-Kind Income
In-kind income for the purposes for calculating SSI benefits is the value of food and shelter that a third party pays for the SSI recipient. In-kind income is unearned income. Shelter costs are rent, mortgage, or utilities. Telephone service is not considered a shelter utility.

Living Arrangement
A living arrangement is where you live, such as a private residence or an institution; who lives with you; and who pays the shelter and food expenses where you live.

Net Income
Net Income is the gross income of a self-employed worker reduced by business expenses.

Public Institution
A public institution is an institution that is owned by a governmental entity, whether federal, city, county or state. Some types of public institutions are jails, prisons, public hospitals, and public shelters.

For SSI, residency means living in one of the fifty U.S. states or in the North Mariana Islands.

Resources are things that you own, such as real estate, vehicles, personal effects, cash, bank accounts, and financial instruments like stocks, bonds, and insurance policies.

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a federal needs-based cash payment program for disabled individuals and those age sixty-five or older.

A sponsor is a U.S. resident who signed an unenforceable affidavit of support prior to December 19, 1997 or an enforceable affidavit on or after December 19, 1967, in which the sponsor agreed to support an immigrant after entrance to the U.S.

A student is a person age eighteen through age twenty-two who is regularly enrolled eight hours a week in an institution of higher learning, twelve hours a week in grades seven through twelve, twelve hours weekly in a training course, or twelve hours weekly in a complying home-school setting.

Unearned Income
Unearned income is all types of income other than income received for performing work services as an employee or self-employed individual.


Glossary of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Terms
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  • pilar

    I have 2 kids receiving ssi but my husband start working and make a good salary. We have 5 kids. There still under age including the 2 disable. Both kids never received there March ssi due to my husband earning is high according to them. My question is my other son just started his Ssi jan. Bec. We file for appeal and we never got the back pay. My question is if you approve for ssi benefits is this benefit could be stop due to my husband earning. Is this permanent that my kids will not get back there ssi. We never apply for ssi since there diagnose. When I was working and my husband we never bother to apply any benefit for my older one bec. I have only one disable. But when they became 2 kids with disable I have to stop working so I can take care of them. It takes me one year to apply for benefits but they keep denied and finally we got this year and stop. What is the best thing to do.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Pilar,

      Be sure that Social Security is aware that you have stopped work and that all the facts that Social Security is using to determine whether the family income is to high for your children to receive SSI are correct. If the facts are correct (income and number of children in the household), then the determination that your children are not eligible is correct. If your second child became eligible before his father started working, then there may be some back pay due.

      If within a year of when benefits terminate, the family income drops, you can report the change in income to Social Security and if benefits are payable they will be paid without a new application. After a year of financial ineligibility, you would have to file a new application for your children and get a new medical decision.



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