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401(k) Retirement Account

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A type of retirement plan in which people who are employed can automatically have money taken out of their paychecks and put aside into an account that is taxed less than a standard savings or investment account. This helps the account grow more quickly than other accounts. The person who puts the money aside can only use this money after reaching the age of 59 and a half. If money is withdrawn before that age, the person taking the money out has to pay a penalty.

Age-18 Redetermination

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The process of determining whether a child who is an SSI beneficiary will meet the adult definition of disability. The redetermination happens within a year of the 18th birthday.

Benefits Planner

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A trained expert who can help you understand and apply for benefit programs. Their goal is to help you develop a plan for your future and organize your financial life to run as smoothly as possible.
  • For questions about work and your Social Security benefits, use Social Security's "Find Help" tool to locate a WIPA project near you. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 / 1-866-833-2967 (TTY/TDD). The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) also has Work Incentives Planners (WIPs).
  • If you need assistance with your Medicare, the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program can help. HICAP provides free information and counseling to people with Medicare. You can call HICAP at 1-800-434-0222 or visit the HICAP website.
  • If you need assistance with Medi-Cal and have a disability, you can contact Disability Rights California at 1-800-776-5746 or visit their website. You may also be able to get help with Medi-Cal from a local legal aid organization. The Health Consumer Alliance website has a lot of useful information about Medi-Cal, including a web page that can direct you to a local legal organization for assistance.
  • If you have questions or need assistance with a program or benefit not listed here, contact an Independent Living Center. Independent Living Centers provide peer support and information on a wide range of topics for people with disabilities.

Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB)

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Social Security benefits for adults who:
  • Became disabled before turning 22, and
  • Have a parent who died or who gets retirement or SSDI benefits.

Formerly known as "Disabled Adult Child" (DAC) benefits.

Disability (Definition used by Social Security for Children)

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For a child under age 18, 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 12 months.

Eligible Noncitizen

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Either a:

Grant

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Money that does not have to be repaid. Government agencies and foundations give grants to programs and individuals who need financial help.

Income

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Money from salaries, wages, tips, disability benefits, investments, dividends, and funds received from any other source. Includes both earned and unearned income.

Individual Retirement Account (IRA)

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A type of retirement plan in which people who are employed can put aside money every year into an account that is taxed less than a standard savings or investment account. This helps the account grow more quickly than other accounts. The person who puts the money aside can only use this money after reaching the age of 59 and a half. If money is withdrawn before that age, the person taking the money out has to pay a penalty.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

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An educational plan for a student receiving special education services. The IEP is created with input from parents, teachers, staff, and the student. It includes information on the student’s current performance, goals and evaluation, and on what specific services the student will need.

In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM)

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A Supplemental Security Income (SSI) term that describes food and/or shelter which is supplied or paid for by someone other than the SSI beneficiary. Shelter expenses can include rent, mortgage payments, property taxes, heating fuel, gas, electricity, water, sewer service, and garbage collection.

If you do not pay your fair share of food and/or shelter, your maximum possible SSI benefits amount may be reduced. Depending on your situation, your ISM may be calculated using SSI's Value of One-Third Reduction (VTR) rule or the Presumed Maximum Value (PMV) rule.

Note: ISM rules usually only apply to adults, not to children under 18 years old. For children, parent-to-child deeming rules usually apply instead.

Loan

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Money that has to be repaid over time. You may get a loan to pay for different things, like buying a home or a car or paying for college or other expenses.

Mentor

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A person who can provide you with guidance and support.

Out-Of-Pocket Costs

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The health care related costs you pay yourself without help from Medicare, Medi-Cal, or other health insurance.

Parent-to-Child Deeming

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Social Security’s process of figuring out how much of parents’ income is used to pay for a child’s basic needs. Some of the parents' income may be considered the child's when determining whether or not the child is eligible for disability benefit programs.The amount of deemed income is subtracted from the benefit amount.

Peer Counselor

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A person who helps another person who has had similar or related experiences. A peer counselor can listen, share information, and give advice.

Personal Care Assistant (PCA) Services

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Assistance and support services for people with disabilities who live independently in the community. A qualified personal care assistant provides the services in the person’s own home or in the community.

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.

Premium (General)

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A regularly scheduled payment to an insurer or health care plan.

Presumed Maximum Value (PMV) Rule

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A rule that sets a maximum value on the amount of certain types of in-kind support and maintenance that SSI counts. If the PMV rule applies, the most you can get in SSI benefits goes down.

The PMV rule applies if:

  • Somebody helps you with food and/or shelter, and
  • The Value of One-Third Reduction (VTR) rule does not apply to your case.
    • Examples: The VTR does not apply if you do not live in the same household as the person helping you with your food and shelter, or if the person helping you does not help with both food and shelter.

The exact amount your maximum SSI benefits go down depends on your situation:

  • By default, it will go down by one-third of the maximum SSI benefit plus $20. For 2019, this Presumed Maximum Value (PMV) is $277.00 for an individual.
  • However, if the actual help you get paying for food or shelter is worth less than the PMV, then your SSI benefits will only be reduced by the actual support amount.

Regular Attendance (SEIE)

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To be considered “regularly attending” school for the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), a student has to meet one of the following requirements:
  • Attend a college or university for at least eight hours a week under a semester or quarter system
  • Be in grades 7 - 12 for at least 12 hours a week
  • Be in a course of training (with shop practice) for at least 15 hours a week to prepare for a paying job
  • Be in a course of training (without shop practice) for 12 hours a week

In some circumstances, like illness or unavailability of transportation, students may be allowed to spend less time than indicated above and still be considered “regularly attending” for the purposes of the SEIE.

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.

Section 301

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A rule that allows certain people to keep their Social Security benefits after being found to no longer be medically disabled. For Section 301 to apply, a person who gets benefits has to be participating in a Social Security approved employment support program, and participation in that program has to increase the likelihood that he or she will not need Social Security benefits after completing the program. Vocational rehabilitation and PASS are two examples of “Social Security approved employment support programs."

Social Security Child's Benefits

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A Social Security cash benefit for children with a parent who gets Social Security retirement benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Children with a deceased parent may also qualify.

Student (SEIE definition)

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For the purposes of the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE), a student is generally someone who is under 22 and regularly attending school.

Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE)

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An exclusion that allows most students to work without their SSI benefit decreasing. The SEIE lets you keep the first $1,870 in earnings each month without affecting the countable earned income calculation. But there is an annual cap of $7,550, so if you earn more than this in any given year, the income starts counting again.

Value of One-Third Reduction (VTR) Rule

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An in-kind support and maintenance rule that says that the most you can get in SSI benefits goes down by one-third if:
  • You live in somebody else’s household, and
  • Somebody in that household helps with both food and shelter.

If you get help paying for food and/or shelter, but the VTR rule does not apply, then the Presumed Maximum Value (PMV) rule may apply instead.

Vocational Rehabilitation

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A state agency that helps people with disabilities prepare for, find, and keep jobs that are consistent with their skills, strengths, and interests.

Work-Study

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A program that you may qualify for if you apply for financial aid at your college or university. If you qualify, it will be easier for you to get a part-time job on campus or nearby, because the federal government will help some employers pay your salary.