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

Adult (disabled)

An individual age 18 or older who is unable “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.”


An individual who is 65 or older.

Child (disabled)

“Child” has different meanings depending on the context in which it is being used. For purposes of determining disability, a child is a person who is under age eighteen. A child is disabled if he or she has 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 has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

Blind adult or child

An individual who is without sight or who is statutorily (legally) blind” Statutory blindness is defined as having best corrected central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye or as having severe visual field limitation in the better eye.

Deemed Income

Deemed income is the portion of an ineligible spouse’s, ineligible parent’s or ineligible stepparent’s, sponsor’s, or Essential Person’s income that is deemed (considered) to be available for the support of the person applying for SSI.

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 (considered) available to a person applying for or receiving SSI. 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.

Earned Income Exclusion: Income from work that is not counted as income; the first $65 of earnings received in a month plus 50% of the remaining earnings.

Essential Person

An essential person is a person who has been living in the SSI recipient’s household continuously since December 1973, the month before the inception of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on January 1, 1974, and whose needs were considered when determining the amount of cash assistance the disabled or aged person was receiving from the state before he or she was transferred to the federal SSI program.

Federal Benefit Rate

The Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) 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 such as taxes, garnishments, or voluntary deductions .


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 and may come from someone inside the household or from outside the household.

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.

Property Essential to Self-Support (PESS): Property not counted as a resource when determining SSI eligibility because it is needed to produce income (e.g., tools or other equipment used for work, inventory needed for a business or trade, property that produces rental income, etc.)

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

Shelter Costs

Shelter costs are power, heat, water/sewer and garbage plus rent or mortgage, property taxes and property insurance if required by the mortgage holder.


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 under twenty-two years of age 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 (fifteen hours if shop time is involved), or twelve hours weekly in a complying home-school setting.

Unearned Income

Unearned income includes all types of income that are not income received for work.