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Assets for Independence Act (AFIA)

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Legislation that established Individual Development Account (IDA) programs for applicants who are not on MFIP. The three goals of AFIA include: providing individuals and families with incentives to save earned income, increasing self-sufficiency, and improving the community.

Benefits Expert

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A trained professional who can help you understand disability benefit programs and how they are affected by work. Their goal is to help you avoid financial complications while developing a sustainable plan for the future.

Chat with a Hub expert.

Blindness

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Eyesight that is very limited. To be considered legally blind, you must:

  • Have a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in your better eye, even while you are wearing a correcting contact lens or glasses in that eye; or
  • Have a limitation in the field of vision of your better eye, so that:
    • You have a contraction of peripheral visual fields to 10 degrees from the point of fixation, or
    • The widest diameter of your visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees, or
    • You have a contraction of peripheral visual fields to 20% or less visual field efficiency.

Social Security and other agencies use this definition of blindness to decide if you qualify for benefits programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Some people with vision impairments that do not meet these standards may still qualify for benefits.

Countable Earned Income

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Countable earned income is the portion of your earned income that is counted by a benefits program. Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, and any other money that you receive as pay for work that you do.

For example, the SSI program uses a special calculation to determine your countable earned income, your total countable income, and ultimately, your SSI benefit.

Countable Income

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The amount of income that Social Security or the state counts when figuring out if you qualify for benefits and, if so, the level of benefits you should get. Not all of your income counts.

Example: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) counts most unearned income, but a bit less than half of earned income. So, if you have $500 in unearned income and $500 in earned income, your countable income for SSI would be just $697.50, even though your total income would be $1,000. Other programs, such as disability-based Medical Assistance and Medicare Savings Programs often use calculations similar to SSI's.

Countable Unearned Income

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Countable unearned income is the portion of your unearned income that is counted by a benefits program. Funds received from sources for which no paid work activity is performed are considered "unearned income" (for example, disability benefits such as SSDI, SSI, short- and long-term disability insurance; VA benefits; Workers' Compensation; income from a trust or investment; spousal support).

For example, the SSI program uses a special calculation to determine your countable earned and unearned income, your total countable income, and ultimately, your SSI benefit.

Disability (Definition used by Social Security for Adults)

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The inability to engage in any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) due to any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

A person must not only be unable to do his/her previous work but cannot, considering age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of SGA which exists in the national economy. It doesn't matter whether such work exists in the immediate area, or whether a specific job vacancy exists, or whether the worker would be hired if he/she applied for work. The worker’s impairment(s) must be the primary reason for his/her inability to engage in SGA.

Earned Income (EI)

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Salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and other amounts you receive as pay for physical or mental work you perform. This can include things you get in exchange for work instead of wages, such as food, shelter, or other items. Funds received from any other source are not included. (Contrast: unearned income.)

General Income Exclusion (SSI)

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The $20 of earned or unearned income that is not considered when determining the amount for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit.

Individual Development Account (IDA)

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A savings account in which your deposits are "matched" at a certain rate. If you have a 2-to-1 match, for example, an additional $2 will be deposited for every $1 that you deposit in your account. IDAs are usually used to save for school, purchasing a home, or starting a business.

Individual Plan for Employment (IPE)

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A plan that lists the employment services and outcomes needed to achieve your PASS goal.

Interval Steps

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Measurable milestones that show progress towards achieving a vocational goal in a Plan to Achieve Self-Support. For example, if the goal is to obtain a job, the job search would be considered an interval step.

Liquid Assets

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Cash or other property which can be converted to cash within 20 days, excluding non-work days. Liquid assets include: checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, promissory notes, mortgages, and life insurance policies.

Medical Assistance (MA)

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A state-run health care program that pays medical expenses for people who are disabled, young, elderly, poor, or pregnant. If you meet program requirements, MA will help pay for a variety of medical services including visits to the doctor, hospital stays, medical equipment, home care services, and prescription drugs. To apply for MA, visit your county human services agency.

Overpayment

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Payment that exceeds the approved benefit amount.

PASS Cadre

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A group of specialists at the Social Security Administration (SSA) who review, monitor, and approve Plans to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). They can also help you as you write your plan.

To contact the St. Paul PASS Cadre, call 1-866-667-6032, ext. 34061. If your servicing office is in North Dakota or South Dakota contact the Denver PASS Cadre at 1-800-551-1034.

PASS Review

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A regular review of your Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) that takes place at least once every six months. A PASS specialist will check how your plan is progressing and collect receipts for your PASS expenses.

Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

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A Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that allows you to set aside income and assets for expenses related to a specific work goal. Income that you use for these expenses will not cause your SSI benefits to go down. Assets that you spend on PASS expenses won't count towards the SSI limit.

A PASS specialist can help you set up a Plan to Achieve Self-Support.

Qualified Alien

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According to Social Security, you are considered a qualified alien if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says you are in one of these categories:

  • Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the United States, including "Amerasian immigrant" as defined in Section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 1988, as amended;
  • granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect before April 1, 1980;
  • paroled into the United States under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least one year;
  • refugee admitted to the United States under Section 207 of the INA;
  • granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA;
  • deportation is being withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA as in effect before April 1, 1997, or removal is withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA; or
  • “Cuban or Haitian entrant” under Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a “Cuban or Haitian entrant” for SSI purposes.

Representative Payee

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A person who gets and manages benefits on someone else's behalf. Social Security does an investigation before making a relative, friend, or other person the representative payee of a beneficiary who needs help managing their benefits. For children under 18, a parent or guardian is usually the representative payee.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

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A Social Security Administration program that gives money each month to people who have a disability that meets Social Security disability rules and who, in the past, worked and paid FICA taxes for enough time to qualify. SSDI has no income limits and no resource limits. The amount you get in SSDI benefits depends on your Social Security earnings record. After getting SSDI benefits for two years, you automatically qualify for Medicare health coverage.

SSDI also offers benefits to family members, including children and widows, when a primary wage earner in the family becomes disabled or dies. Additionally, adults whose disabilities began before they turned 22 may be able to get Disabled Adult Child (DAC).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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A Social Security Administration program that gives cash benefits to people with disabilities who have limited income and resources. The amount you get in SSI benefits is based on your financial need and your living situation. The maximum monthly SSI benefit is $771 for individuals and $1,157 for eligible couples.

Surrender Value

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If you were to cancel a life insurance policy prior to death or maturity, you would likely receive some portion of the full value of that policy. The amount you would receive is known as the “surrender value.” The surrender value of your policy should be written into it. If you do not know the surrender value, contact your policy administrator to find out. Not all policies have a surrender value (i.e. - burial insurance and many term insurance policies).

Unearned Income (UI)

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Funds received from sources for which no paid work activity is performed. Disability benefits such as SSDI, SSI, short-term disability insurance, and long-term disability insurance; VA benefits; Workers' Compensation; income from a trust or investment; spousal support; dividends, profits, or funds received from any source other than work are all usually considered unearned income.

Vocational Counselor

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A counselor who works with people to help them identify potential job options.

Work Goal

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The specific job an individual wishes to have after completing a Plan to Achieve Self-Support. Also known as a vocational or occupational goal.