is the person benefitting from a trust.

Activities of Daily Living - ADLs

are daily, routine skills an individual needs in order to function.  Examples include:  eating, bathing, moving, toileting and grooming.

Day Training & Habilitation Program - DT&H

is a licensed organization that assists individuals with disabilities to develop and maintain life skills, participate in community life, and engage in activities of their own choosing.

Department of Human Resources - DHS

provides health care, economic assistance and other essential services for those who do not have the resources to meet their basic needs and are least able to help themselves.

Developmental Disability - DD

is a mental and/or physical condition that manifests before age 22, substantially affects functioning in several major life activities, and usually lasts through life.

Employment Network - EN

is an entity that contracts with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides and coordinates the delivery of necessary services to Social Security disability beneficiaries participating in the Ticket to Work program.

Formal Supports

are community supports for individuals with disabilities that are provided by services and programs.

Global Developmental Delay

is a significant lag in meeting important developmental milestones, including:  physical, cognitive, behavioral and social development.

Informal Supports

are community supports for individuals with disabilities that are provided by family, friends and social network groups.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living - ADLs

are basic skills an individual needs in order to function.  Examples include:  shopping, managing fnances, essential household chores, planning and preparing meals.

Intermediate Care Facility for Persons with Developmental Disabilities - ICF DD

is a residential facility or licensed health care institution that provides health and rehabilitatiave services for persons with developmental disabilities or related conditinos who require active treatment.

Irrevocable Trust

is a trust that cannot be changed or cancelled after it has been created.

Medical Assistance - MA

is a publicly funded health care program for individuals who meet certain income and other criteria, including persons with disabilities.

Minnesota Department of Health - MDH

is a state agency whose mission is to protect, maintain and improve the health of all Minnesotans.

Nursing Facility - NF

is a facility or part of a facility licensed to provide nursing care for persons who are unable to properly care for themselves.

Parental Fee

is a monthly amount paid by parents of children under 18 accessing TEFRA.  It is based on family income and size.

Personal Care Assistant/Assistance - PCA

provides day-to-day assistance and support to individuals with disablities to help them be more independent in their homes and in the community.

Plan for Achieving Self Support - PASS

is a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) work initiative that lets individuals with disabilities set aside money and other assets for items or services to reach specific work goals.

Related Condition

is a condition closely related to a developmental disability that is severe, chronic, results in impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior, requires treatment or services similar to those required for persons with developmental disabilities, manifests before age 22, is likely to continue indefinitely, is not attributable to mental illness, and results in substantial functioning limitations.

Revocable Trust

is a trust that can be changed or cancelled after it has been created.

Social Security Administration - SSA

is a federal agency that administers Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs.  These two major programs provide cash benefits to persons with disabilities.

Social Security Disability Income - SSDI

is a program under Retirement, Survivor and Disablity Insurance (RSDI) that provides cash benefits to individuals who have a disabilty and have worked a certain number of quarters or had a parent or spouse who worked a certain number of quarters and have paid into the Social Security System.  SSDI helps offset the costs of food, clothing and shelter with monthly benefits.


is an amount of money that a person enrolled in a Minnesota Health Care Program (MHCP) is required to pay before they are eligble for Medical Assistance (MA).

State Medical Review Team - SMRT

is a division of the Department of Human Services (DHS) that makes disability determinations using criteria from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Supplemental Security Income - SSI

is a federal needs-based program for children and adults who have been been able to work or have not worked enough to pay into the Social Security System.  SSI helps to offset the costs of food, clothing and shelter with monthly benefit payments.

Tax Equity Fairness and Responsibility Act - TEFRA

is a component of Medical Assistance (MA) that helps cover health care costs for children with disabiilties.  Only the child's income is used to determine eligibility; however there may be parental fees, depending on family income and size.


is the person or entity responsible for the management and distribution of the assets of a trust.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Definitions of terms highlighted in Green Italics can be found in the right sidebar.Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal needs-based program. It is for children and adults who have not been able to work or have not worked enough to pay into the Social Security System.

SSI helps to offset the costs of food, clothing and shelter with monthly benefit payments. It differs from Social Security Income and is funded from general tax revenues and not Social Security taxes.


Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of disability for an

  • You cannot do work what you did before
  • SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s), and
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. (Individuals who have partial or short-term disability are not eligible.)

Application process for ADULTS:

  • SSI benefits are based on financial need.
  • Consideration is given to other income and living arrangements, and there are asset limits.
  • It may take several months for SSA to review and reach a determination regarding a disability claim.


Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of disability for a CHILD:

  • The child has a physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments that causes marked and severe functional limitations;
  • And has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months, or to result in death.
  • The child is not working at a job and doing substantial work.
  • Family household income and most assets are considered

Application process for a CHILD:

Individuals that are eligible for SSI also meet the eligibility requirements for Medical Assistance.

Compassionate Allowance Conditions list

There are some medical conditions are so severe that they automatically meet the criteria for disability by SSA.

Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool

The Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool helps you find out if you could get benefits that Social Security administers. Based on your answers to questions, this tool will list benefits for which you might be eligible provides information about how to qualify and apply.

SSA Disability Starter Kits

The Disability Starter Kit will help you prepare for your disability interview or online application. Kits are available for adults and children.

Need help applying for SSI?

- More information on applying for SSI can be found here.

- For more information, How We Decide If You Are Disabled – SSA

Has your application for SSI been denied?

If you do not agree with the decision, you can appeal and SSA will look at your case again. The Disability Appeal is a starting point to request a review of SSA's decision.

Generally, there are four levels of appeal:

  1. Reconsideration – The claim is reviewed by someone who did not take place in the original decision.
  2. Hearing – If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you can request a hearing. The hearing is held by an administrative law judge who did not take part in either the original decision or reconsideration.
  3. Appeals Council – If you disagree with the hearing decision, you can ask for a review by SSA's Appeals Council. The Appeals Council considers but does not review every case and may return it to an administrative law judge for further review. 
  4. Federal Court– If you disagree with the Appeal Council's decision or if the Appeal Council decides not to hear the case, you can file a lawsuit in federal district court.

- If your application was denied for medical reasons, you can complete and submit the Disablity Appeal online.

- If your application was denied for non-medical reasons, you should contact the local Social Security office to request an appeal.

More information on the appeals process through SSA can be found here.

The majority of SSI applications are initially denied.

SSI and Employment

Work Incentives

One of SSA's top priorities is helping people with disabilities work without losing SSI or MA benefits. SSI Work Incentives allow individuals to exclude all or part of their income and assets keeping them eligible for benefits. More information on work incentives can be found here.

Earned Income Exclusion

Under Earned Income Exclusion, a fixed amount of initial income plus a percentage of additional income is not counted as income eligibility for SSI. This allows overall income to be less, so SSI benefits are reduced by a lesser amount. The student earned income exclusion includes students under age 22, but uses different criteria.

Work-related Expenses

Certain out-of-pocket expenses may be excluded from earned income that are related to a person's disability and are needed in order to work. Special exclusions apply to people that are blind.

Plans to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

SSI benefits cannot be used to cover expenses related to work, and they can be used only for ordinary living expenses. Plans to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) allow you to set aside income or resources to meet expenses for reaching an occupational goal. Children living at home may also exclude part of their parents' income and resources. The amount set aside does not count when calculating SSI benefits.

Ticket to Work

The Ticket to Work program provides more choices for receiving employment services. SSA issues "tickets" that you can take to an approved support service provider of your choice, called an Employment Network (EN). ENs can assist in obtaining employment services, vocational rehabilitation services and other support services necessary to achieve work-related goals. There is no cost for the employee to take part in this program.

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program

The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance program (WIPA) has Community Work Incentive Coordinators that assist with job placement, benefits planning, and career development.

Need help in understanding the SSA programs available for those that are employed?

- Each local SSA office has a Work Incentive Liaison who works with outside organizations that serve individuals with disabilities.   Contact your local social security office to contact the Work Incentive Liaison.

- The Red Book – A Guide to Work Incentives is a summary guide to employment services under Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). It is available online, on audiocassette, in Braille, in large print, and on CD.

- The Minnesota Work Incentives Connection has information on the effect work will have on government benefits and helps solve benefit problems.

- The Work Site – has information on SSA programs for individuals with disabilities that work or are interested in working.

- Protection and Advocacy Program (P&A) - helps individuals navigate through beneficiary rules, legal issues and employment issues.