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Subsidies and Special Conditions - Clarification

This topic provides clarification of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) policy concerning whether assistance on the job, for example, job coaching, provided by organizations other than your employer may be considered to be a "subsidy" or "special conditions". SSA uses only earnings that represent the real value of the work you perform to decide if the work is at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level. A "subsidy" is the extra amount of wages an employer pays an individual with an impairment for services over the reasonable value of the actual services performed. SSA deducts the value of subsidies from earnings when making an SGA decision.

When determining how much you earn, SSA must consider whether the work was done under special conditions, such as job coaching and like services. Although job coaching and like services are not technically a "subsidy" in the form of "extra" wages paid by an employer, these services do affect how SSA values the work and the determination of substantial gainful activity (SGA). Under the regulations, SSA must consider special conditions when determining if the work you do or have done is SGA.

Certain special assistance on the job must be considered whether or not your employer provides or pays for the assistance directly. SSA regulations state:

"We do not consider any income not directly related to your productivity when we decide whether you have done substantial gainful activity. …Thus, where work is done under special conditions, we only consider the part of your pay which you actually earn."

Further, the regulations state that for an individual with a disability who does simple tasks under close and continuous supervision, SSA would not determine that you worked at the substantial gainful activity level based only on the amount of pay you received. SSA must count only those earnings that are attributable to your own productivity in applying the substantial gainful activity earnings guidelines. When applying the earnings guidelines, SSA must exclude any income that is not directly related to your own productivity.

If you are not fully earning your wages because the work is performed under special conditions (e.g., close and continuous supervision, on-the-job-coaching and substitution during which the job coach performs part or all of your job duties), then SSA must deduct that part of your wages that are not "earned" by you from your average gross wages. This is true whether or not the employer or someone else provides the special (on-the-job) conditions.

In order to determine the amount you actually earn, SSA determines the value of your services (i.e., work) by contacting you, your employer, supervisor(s), work peers, and the job-coach and anyone else who would have this knowledge. The value of your actual services may require contact with other employers or the Department of Labor to determine the wages usually paid for the services. SSA stops making additional contacts when there is sufficient information to make a determination.

See also:

Subsidy and Special Conditions Overview - SSI/DI Work Incentive

Subsidy - SSDI - Extra Supervision & Special Conditions

Value of a Subsidy for Extra Supervision

Claiming your Extra Supervision Subsidy

Subsidy - Reduced Duties - SSI/DI Work Incentive

Value of Reduced Duties Subsidy

Claiming Your Reduced Duties Subsidy


Some information for this topic was drawn from the SSA website at:

Additional information for this topic was drawn from the SSA POMS website at:

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