The information contained in this fact sheet is general in nature and is not intended as a substitute for legal-medical advice. Changes in the law or the specific facts of your case may result in legal interpretations different than those presented here.
Accepted claim: A claim in which the insurance company agrees your injury or illness is covered by workers’ compensation. Even if your claim is accepted there may be delays or other problems. Also called admitted claim.
ACOEM: American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Until the state Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) adopts medical treatment guidelines, the guidelines published by ACOEM, called “Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines,” are the guidelines used in most cases to decide the type and amount of treatment you’ll receive for a work injury or illness.
Agreed medical evaluator (AME): If you have an attorney, an AME is the doctor your attorney and the insurance company agree on to conduct the medical examination that will help resolve your dispute. If you don’t have an attorney, you will use a qualified medical evaluator (QME). See QME.
Alternative work: A new job with your former employer. If your doctor says you will not be able to return to your job at the time of injury, your employer is encouraged to offer you alternative work instead of supplemental job displacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation benefits. The alternative work must meet your work restrictions, last at least 12 months, pay at least 85 percent of the wages and benefits you were paid at the time you were injured, and be within a reasonable commuting distance of where you lived at the time of injury.
American Medical Association (AMA): A national physician’s group. The AMA publishes a set of guidelines called “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.” If your permanent disability is rated under the 2005 rating schedule, the doctor is required to determine your level of impairment using the AMA’s guides.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against at work because you’re disabled and want information on your rights under the ADA, contact a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office. For the EEOC office in your area, call 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY).
AOE/COE (Arising out of and occurring in the course of employment): Your injury must be caused by and happen on the job.
Applicant: The party — usually you — that opens a case at the local Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) office by filing an application for adjudication of claim.
Appeals board: A group of seven commissioners appointed by the governor to review and reconsider decisions of workers’ compensation administrative law judges. Also called the Reconsideration Unit. See Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
Applicants’ attorney: A lawyer that can represent you in your workers’ compensation case. Applicant refers to you, the injured worker.
Application for adjudication of claim (application or app): A form you file to open a case at the local Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) office if you have a disagreement with the insurance company about your claim.
Apportionment: A way of figuring out how much of your permanent disability is due to your work injury and how much is due to other disabilities.
Audit Unit: A unit within the DWC that receives complaints against claims administrators. These complaints may lead to investigations of the way the company handles claims.Benefit notice: A required letter or form sent to you by the insurance company to inform you of benefits you may be entitled to receive. Also called notice.
Cal/OSHA: A unit within the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). Cal/OSHA inspects workplaces and enforces laws to protect the health and safety of workers in California.
California Labor Code section 132a: A workers’ compensation law that prohibits discrimination against you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, and against co-workers who might testify in your case.
Carve-out: Carve-out programs allow employers and unions to create their own alternatives for workers’ compensation benefit delivery and dispute resolution under a collective bargaining agreement.
Claim form: The form used to report a work injury or illness to your employer. Claims adjuster: See claims administrator.
Claims administrator: The term for insurance companies and others that handle your workers’ compensation claim. Most claims administrators work for insurance companies or third party administrators handling claims for employers. Some claims administrators work directly for large employers that handle their own claims. Also called claims examiner or claims adjuster.
Claims examiner: See claims administrator.
Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC): A state-appointed body that conducts studies and makes recommendations to improve the California workers’ compensation and workplace health and safety systems.
Commutation: An order by a workers’ compensation judge for a lump sum payment of part or all of your permanent disability award.
Compromise and release (C&R): A type of settlement in which you receive a lump sum payment and become responsible for paying for your future medical care. A settlement like this must be approved by a workers’ compensation judge.
Cumulative injury (CT): An injury that was caused by repeated events or repeated exposures at work. For example, hurting your wrist doing the same motion over and over or losing your hearing because of constant loud noise.
Date of injury: When you got hurt or ill. If your injury was caused by one event, the date it happened is the date of injury. If the injury or illness was caused by repeated exposures (a cumulative injury), the date of injury is the date you knew or should have known the injury was caused by work.
Death benefits: Benefits paid to surviving dependents when a work injury or illness results in death. Declaration of readiness (DOR or DR): A form used to request a hearing before a workers’
compensation judge when you’re ready to resolve a dispute.
Defendant: The party –- usually your employer or its insurance company — opposing you in a dispute over benefits or services.
Delay letter: A letter sent to you by the insurance company that explains why payments are delayed. The letter also tells you what information is needed before payments will be sent and when a decision will be made about the payments.
Denied claim: A claim in which the insurance company believes your injury or illness is not covered by workers’ compensation and has notified you of the decision.
Description of employee’s job duties (RU-91): A form filled out jointly by you and the insurance company that helps your treating physician decide whether you will be able to return to your normal job and working conditions.
Determination and order (D&O): A decision by the DWC Rehabilitation Unit on a vocational rehabilitation dispute.
Disability: A physical or mental impairment that limits your life activities. A condition that makes engaging in physical, social and work activities difficult.
Disability Evaluation Unit (DEU): A unit within the DWC that calculates the percent of permanent disability based on medical reports. See disability rater.
Disability management: A process to prevent disability from occurring or to intervene early, following the start of a disability, to encourage and support continued employment. This is done early in the recovery process in severe injury cases such as spinal injuries. Usually a rehabilitation nurse is involved with you and your treating doctor and the progress of your medical treatment is reported to the insurance company.
Disability rater: An employee of the DWC Disability Evaluation Unit who rates your permanent disability after reviewing a medical report or a medical-legal report describing your condition.
Disability rating: See permanent disability rating. Discrimination claim (Labor Code132a): A petition filed if your employer has fired or otherwise
discriminated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Dispute: A disagreement about your right to payments, services or other benefits.
Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC): A division within the state Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The DWC administers workers’ compensation laws, resolves disputes over workers’ compensation benefits and provides information and assistance to injured workers and others about the workers’ compensation system.
Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS): A computer based system to simplify and improve the Division of Workers’ Compensation case management process.
Employee: A person whose work activities are under the control of an individual or entity. The term employee includes undocumented workers and minors.
Employer: The person or entity with control over your work activities.
Ergonomics: The study of how to improve the fit between the physical demands of the workplace and the employees who perform the work. That means considering the variability in human capabilities when selecting, designing or modifying equipment, tools, work tasks and the work environment.
Essential functions: Duties considered crucial to the job you want or have. When being considered for alternative work, you must have both the physical and mental qualifications to fulfill the job’s essential functions.
Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): A state law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against at work because you’re disabled and want more information on your rights under the FEHA, contact the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing at 1-800-884-1684. In some cases, the FEHA provides more protection than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): A federal law that provides certain employees with serious health problems or who need to care for a child or other family member with up to 12 weeks of unpaid,
job-protected leave per year. It also requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave. For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USA-DOL.
Filing: Sending or delivering a document to an employer or a government agency as part of a legal process. The date of filing is the date the document is received.
Final order: Any order, decision or award made by a workers’ compensation judge that has not been appealed in a timely way.
Findings & award (F&A): A written decision by a workers’ compensation administrative law judge about your case, including payments and future care that must be provided to you. The F&A becomes a final order unless appealed.
Fraud: Any knowingly false or fraudulent statement for the purpose of obtaining or denying workers’ compensation benefits. The penalties for committing fraud are fines up to $150,000 and/or imprisonment for up to five years.
Future medical: On-going right to medical treatment for a work-related injury. Health care organization (HCO): An organization certified by the Department of Industrial Relations to
provide managed medical care within the workers’ compensation system.
Hearings: Legal proceedings in which a workers’ compensation judge discusses the issues in a case or receives information in order to make a decision about a dispute or a proposed settlement.
In pro per: An injured worker not represented by an attorney.
Independent contractor: There is no set definition of this term. Labor law enforcement agencies and the courts look at several factors when deciding if someone is an employee or an independent contractor. Some employers misclassify employees as an independent contractor to avoid workers’ compensation and other payroll responsibilities. Just because an employer says you are an independent contractor and doesn’t need to cover you under a workers’ compensation policy doesn’t make it true. A true independent contractor has control over how their work is done. You probably are not an independent contractor when the person paying you:
? Controls the details or manner of your work ? Has the right to terminate you ? Pays you an hourly wage or salary ? Makes deductions for unemployment or Social Security ? Supplies materials or tools
? Requires you to work specific days or hours Industrial Medical Council (IMC): No longer in existence. See Medical Unit.
Information & Assistance Unit (I&A): A unit within DWC that provides information to all parties in workers’ compensation claims and informally resolves disputes.
Information & Assistance (I&A) officer: A DWC employee who answers questions, assists injured workers, provides written materials, conducts informational workshops and holds meetings to informally resolve problems with claims.
Injury and illness prevention program (IIPP): A health and safety program employers are required to develop and implement. This program is enforced by Cal/OSHA.
Impairment rating: A percentage estimate of how much normal use of your injured body parts you’ve lost. Impairment ratings are determined based on guidelines published by the American Medical Association (AMA). An impairment rating is used to calculate your permanent disability rating but is different from your permanent disability rating.
Judge: See workers’ compensation administrative law judge.
Lien: A right or claim for payment against a workers’ compensation case. A lien claimant, such as a medical provider, can file a form with the local Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to request payment of money owed in a workers’ compensation case.
Mandatory settlement conference (MSC): A required conference to discuss settlement prior to a trial.
Maximal medical improvement (MMI): Your condition is well stabilized and unlikely to change substantially in the next year, with or without medical treatment. Once you reach MMI, a doctor can assess how much, if any, permanent disability resulted from your work injury.
Mediation conference: A voluntary conference held before an I&A officer to resolve a dispute if you are not represented by an attorney.
Medical care: See medical treatment. Medical-legal report: A report written by a doctor that describes your medical condition. These reports
are written to help clarify disputed medical issues.
Medical provider network (MPN): An entity or group of health care providers set up by an insurer or self-insured employer and approved by DWC’s administrative director to treat workers injured on the job.
Medical treatment: Treatment reasonably required to cure or relieve the effects of a work-related injury or illness. Also called medical care.
Medical Unit: A unit within the DWC that oversees medical provider networks (MPNs), independent medical review (IMR) physicians, health care organizations (HCOs), qualified medical evaluators (QMEs), panel QMEs, utilization review (UR) plans, and spinal surgery second opinion physicians. Formerly called the Industrial Medical Council (IMC).
Medicare Set-Aside (MS): After a person is eligible for Medicare. Medicare, is demanding that these funds be set aside in trust for the future medical expenses during years of Medicare eligibility.
Modified work: Your old job, with some changes that allow you do to it. If your doctor says you will not be able to return to your job at the time of injury, your employer is encouraged to offer you modified work instead of supplemental job displacement benefits or vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Nontransferable voucher: A document you get from the insurance company that must be completed by both you and the insurance company. This is the document used to provide payment for education under the supplemental job displacement benefit program.
Notice: See benefit notice. Objective factors: Measurements, direct observations and test results a treating physician, QME or an
AME says contribute to your permanent disability.
Off calendar (OTOC): A WCAB case in which there is no pending action.
Offer of modified or alternative work form (RU-94): A form you get from the insurance company if: you were injured before 2004 and; your treating physician says you probably will never return to your job or one like it and; your employer is offering modified or alternative work instead of vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Offer of modified or alternative work (DWC form #AD 10133.53): A form you get from the insurance company if: you were injured in 2004 or later and; your treating physician reports you have a permanent disability and; your employer is offering modified or alternative work instead of a supplemental job displacement benefit. This form also explains how your permanent disability payments may be lowered by 15 percent because your employer is returning you to work.
Panel qualified medical evaluator (QME): A list of three independent qualified medical evaluators (QMEs) issued by the DWC Medical Unit. You select any one of the three doctors for your evaluation. If you have an attorney, other rules apply.
Party: Normally this includes the insurance company, your employer, attorneys and any other person with an interest in your claim (doctors or hospitals that have not been paid).
Permanent and stationary (P&S): Your medical condition has reached maximum medical improvement. Once you are P&S, a doctor can assess how much, if any, permanent disability resulted from your work injury. If your disability is rated under the 2005 schedule you will see the term maximal medical improvement (MMI) used in place of P&S. See also P&S report.
Permanent disability (PD): Any lasting disability that results in a reduced earning capacity after maximum medical improvement is reached.
Permanent disability rating (PDR): A percentage that estimates how much a job injury permanently limits the kinds of work you can do. It is based on your medical condition, date of injury, age when injured, occupation when injured, how much of the disability is caused by your job, and your diminished future earning capacity. It determines the number of weeks you are entitled to permanent disability benefits.
Permanent disability rating schedule (PDRS): A DWC publication containing detailed information used to rate permanent disabilities. One of three schedules will be used to rate your disability, depending on when you were injured.
Permanent disability (PD) benefits: Payments you receive when your work injury permanently limits the kinds of work you can do or your ability to earn a living.
Permanent disability advance (PDA): A voluntary lump sum payment of permanent disability you are due in the future.
Permanent disability payments: A mandatory bi-weekly payment based on the undisputed portion of permanent disability received before and/or after an award is issued.
Permanent partial disability award: A final award of permanent partial disability made by a workers’ compensation judge or the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits: Payments you receive when your work injury partially limits the kinds of work you can do or your ability to earn a living.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits: Payments you receive when you are considered permanently unable to earn a living.
Penalty: An amount of money you receive because something wasn’t done correctly in your claim. Paid by your employer or the insurance company, the penalty amount can be an automatic 10 percent for a delay in one payment to you, or a 25 percent penalty — up to $10,000 — for an unreasonable delay.
Personal physician: A doctor licensed in California with an M.D. degree (medical doctor) or a D.O. degree (osteopath), who has treated you in the past and has your medical records.
Petition for reconsideration (Recon): A legal process to appeal a decision issued by a workers’ compensation judge. Heard by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Reconsideration Unit, a seven- member, judicial body appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
Physician: A medical doctor, an osteopath, a psychologist, an acupuncturist, an optometrist, a dentist, a podiatrist or a chiropractor licensed in California. The definition of personal physician is more limited. See personal physician.
Pre-designated physician: A physician that can treat your work injury if you advised your employer in writing prior to your work injury or illness and certain conditions are met. See pre-designation.
Pre-designation: The process you use to tell your employer you want your personal physician to treat you for a work injury. You can pre-designate your personal doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) if: your employer offers group health coverage; the doctor has treated you in the past and has your medical records; prior to the injury your doctor agreed to treat you for work injuries or illnesses and; prior to the injury you provided your employer the following in writing:
(1) Notice that you want your personal doctor to treat you for a work-related injury or illness and (2) Your personal doctor’s name and business address.
Primary treating physician (PTP): The doctor having overall responsibility for treatment of your work injury or illness. This physician writes medical reports that may affect your benefits. Also called treating physician or treating doctor.
Proof of service: A form used to show that documents have been sent to specific parties. P&S report: A medical report written by a treating physician that describes your medical condition when
it has stabilized. See also permanent and stationary.
Qualified injured worker (QIW): Entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits. This benefit applies only if you were injured before Jan. 1, 2004.
Qualified medical evaluator (QME): An independent physician certified by the DWC Medical Unit to perform medical evaluations.
Qualified rehabilitation representative (QRR): A person trained and able to evaluate, counsel, and place disabled workers in new jobs. Also called rehabilitation counselor.
Rating: See permanent disability rating.
Reconsideration: See petition for reconsideration.
Reconsideration Unit: See appeals board.
Reconsideration of a summary rating: A process used when you don’t have an attorney and you think mistakes were made in your permanent disability rating.
Regular work: Your old job, paying the same wages and benefits as paid at the time of an injury and located within a reasonable commuting distance of where you lived at the time of your injury.
Rehabilitation consultant: A DWC employee who oversees vocational rehabilitation procedures, makes decisions about vocational rehabilitation benefits and helps resolve disputes.
Rehabilitation counselor: See qualified rehabilitation representative (QRR).
Rehabilitation Unit: A unit within DWC that resolves vocational rehabilitation disputes, approves potential settlements of vocational rehabilitation services, and reviews and approves vocational rehabilitation plans for injuries that happened before Jan. 1, 2004.
Restrictions: See work restrictions. Schedule for rating permanent disabilities: See permanent disability rating schedule.
Settlement: An agreement between you and the insurance company about your workers’ compensation payments and future medical care. Settlements must be reviewed by a workers’ compensation judge to make sure they are adequate.
Serious and willful misconduct (S&W): A petition filed if your injury is caused by the serious and willful misconduct of your employer.
Social Security disability benefits: Long-term financial assistance for totally disabled persons. These benefits come from the U.S. Social Security Administration. They are reduced by workers’ compensation payments you receive.
Specific injury: An injury caused by one event at work. Examples: hurting your back in a fall, getting burned by a chemical splashed on your skin, getting hurt in a car accident while making deliveries.
State average weekly wage: The average weekly wage paid in the previous year to employees in California covered by unemployment insurance, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor. Effective 2006, temporary disability benefit increases are tied to this index.
State disability insurance (SDI): A partial wage-replacement insurance plan paid out to California workers by the state Employment Development Department (EDD). SDI provides short-term benefits to eligible workers who suffer a loss of wages when they are unable to work due to a non work-related illness or injury, or a medically disabling condition from pregnancy or childbirth. Workers with job injuries may apply for SDI when workers’ compensation payments are delayed or denied. Call 1-800-480-3287 for more information on SDI.
Stipulated rating: Formal agreement on your permanent disability rating. Must be approved by a workers’ compensation judge.
Stipulation with award: A settlement of a case where the parties agree on the terms of an award. This is the document the judge signs to make the award final.
Stipulations with request for award (Stips): A settlement in which the parties agree on the terms of an award. It may include future medical treatment. Payment takes place over time. This document is provided to the judge for final review.
Subjective factors: The amount of pain and other symptoms described by an injured worker that a doctor reports as contributing to a worker’s permanent disability. Subjective factors are given very little weight under the 2005 rating schedule as the schedule relies mainly on objective measurements.
Subpoena: A document that requires a witness to appear at a hearing. Subpoena Duces Tecum (SDT): A document that requires records be sent to the requester.
Summary rating: The percentage of permanent disability calculated by the DWC Disability Evaluation Unit.
Summary rating reconsideration: A procedure used if you object to the summary rating issued by the DWC Disability Evaluation Unit.
Supplemental job displacement benefit (SJDB): A workers’ compensation benefit. If you were injured in 2004 or later, and have a permanent partial disability that prevents you from doing your old job, and your employer does not offer other work, you qualify for this benefit. It is in the form of a voucher that promises to help pay for educational retraining or skill enhancement, or both, at state- approved or state-accredited schools. Also called voucher.
Temporary disability (TD or TTD): Payments you get if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits: Payments you get if you can do some work while recovering, but you earn less than before the injury.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits: Payments you get if you cannot work at all while recovering.
Transportation expenses: A benefit to cover your out-of-pocket expenses for mileage, parking and toll fees related to a claim. Usually a reimbursement.
Treating doctor: See primary treating physician. Treating physician: See primary treating physician.
Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF): A fund, run by the DWC, through which your benefits can be paid if your employer is illegally uninsured for workers’ compensation.
Utilization review (UR): The process used by insurance companies to decide whether to authorize and pay for treatment recommended by your treating physician or another doctor.
Vocational & return to work counselor (VRTWC): If you have a permanent disability, this is the person or entity that helps you develop a return to work strategy. They evaluate you, provide counseling and help you get ready to work. A VRTWC must have at least an undergraduate degree in any field and three or more years of full time experience.
Vocational rehabilitation (VR): A workers’ compensation benefit. If you were injured before 2004 and are permanently unable to do your usual job, and your employer does not offer other work, you qualify for this benefit. It includes job placement counseling to help you find another job. It may also include retraining and a vocational rehabilitation maintenance allowance.
Vocational rehabilitation maintenance allowance (VRMA): Payments to help you with living expenses while participating in vocational rehabilitation. See vocational rehabilitation.
Voucher: See supplemental job displacement benefit and nontransferable voucher. Wage loss (temporary partial disability): See temporary partial disability benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB): Consists of 24 local offices throughout the state where disagreements over workers’ compensation benefits are initially heard by workers’ compensation judges. The WCAB Reconsideration Unit in San Francisco is a seven-member, judicial body appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate that hears appeals of decisions issued by local workers’ compensation judges.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB): An agent of the state Department of Insurance and funded by the insurance industry, this private entity provides statistical and rating information for workers’ compensation insurance and employer’s liability insurance, and collects and tabulates information to develop pure premium rates.
Work restrictions: A doctor’s description of the work you can and cannot do. Work restrictions help protect you from further injury.
Workers’ compensation administrative law judge: A DWC employee who makes decisions about workers’ compensation disputes and approves settlements. Judges hold hearings at local Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) offices, and their decisions may be reviewed and reconsidered by the Reconsideration Unit of the WCAB. Also called workers’ compensation judge.
Workers’ compensation judge: See workers’ compensation administrative law judge.
Glossary of Terms Social Security
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Public Law 101-336 gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.
For more information about the ADA, go to http://www.ada.gov/
Area Work Incentives Coordinator (AWIC)
The AWIC is a Social Security Administration employee who serves as an expert on SSA’s work incentives and employment support programs in a specific geographic area of the country. He/she manages and coordinates work incentive training; conducts public outreach; and provides public support services to beneficiaries with disabilities who want to start or keep working and to other members of the community.
An individual who receives either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Benefits Planning Query (BPQY))
The BPQY is a planning tool that can be used by Area Work Incentives Coordinators, Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) Cadre employees and Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects to provide customized employment services to beneficiaries with disabilities who want to start or keep working. A BPQY provides a snapshot of a beneficiary’s current status as stored in the Social Security Administration’s electronic records. It contains comprehensive information about an individual’s disability cash benefits, health insurance, medical review schedule, representative payee status and work history. Analysis of an individual’s disability and work status is the first step when planning a successful return to work initiative.
Blind Work Expenses (BWE) (SSI)
If you are blind, we do not count any earned income that you use to meet expenses in earning that income when we decide your SSI eligibility and payment amount.
For example, BWEs include: transportation to and from work, income taxes, attendant care services, and service animal expenses. For more information go to: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/2010/blindrules.htm
The Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach (BPAO) project was replaced by the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project (WIPA) in October 2006.
Break-Even Point (SSI)
The dollar amount of total income that will (after applicable deductions are applied) reduce the SSI payment to zero in a given set of case facts. Your break-even point depends on your earned and unearned income, living arrangements, applicable income exclusions, and state supplement, if any. While useful for discussion purposes, this term does not appear in the SSI rules.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administers Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC)
A CWIC is employed by the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project and works directly with Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities to assist them in their employment efforts. CWICs provide outreach to beneficiaries with disabilities and work incentives planning and assistance.
- Work in cooperation with Federal, State, private agencies, and nonprofit organizations that serve beneficiaries with disabilities;
- Conduct outreach to beneficiaries with disabilities (and their families), employment-related organizations, disability service providers, special education transition coordinators, and other groups and individuals who need information about SSA’s Work Incentives and the Ticket to Work Program;
- Screen and refer beneficiaries with disabilities to appropriate Employment Networks based on the beneficiary’s expressed needs and types of impairments;
- Provide general information on the adequacy of health benefits coverage that may be offered by an employer of a beneficiary with a disability and the extent to which other health benefits coverage may be available to that beneficiary in coordination with Medicare and/or Medicaid; and
- Provide information on the availability of protection and advocacy services for beneficiaries with disabilities and how to access such services.
Continuation of Medicare Coverage (SSDI)
You can receive at least 93 consecutive months of hospital and medical insurance after the trial work period. This provision allows health insurance to continue when you go to work and are engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Continued Medicaid Eligibility
See Medicaid While Working [Section 1619(b)]
Continuing Disability Review (SSDI and SSI)
Our process of obtaining complete current information about your condition and any work activity to decide if your SSDI and/or SSI benefits should continue.
Cost Reimbursement Payment System
The system providing payment from the Social Security Administration to State vocational rehabilitation agencies and alternate participants for reasonable and necessary costs for vocational rehabilitation and other employment support services to SSDI and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities.
Countable Income (SSI)
The amount of money left after we have subtracted all available deductions from your total income. We use this amount to determine your SSI eligibility and payment amounts.
Our process of considering some of the income and resources of your parent, or spouse, or sponsor (if you are an alien) to be your income and resources when you are applying for or receiving SSI benefits.
Definition of Disability (SSDI and SSI)
The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 months or can be expected to result in death.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The Commission promotes equality of opportunity in the workplace and enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
This is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of Social Security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a tax return.
Employment Network (EN)
A qualified public or private organization that has entered into a contract with SSA to function as an employment network under the Ticket to Work program and assume responsibility for the coordination and delivery of employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, or other support services to beneficiaries who have assigned their Tickets to that employment network. To learn more, please click here.
An individual work plan under which an employment network (other than a State vocational rehabilitation agency) provides services to a Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary with a disability under the Ticket to Work program, or an individualized plan for employment under which a State Vocational Rehabilitation agency provides services.
Also known as work incentives. Congress developed employment supports to give individuals with disabilities assistance to move from benefit dependence to independence.
A qualified individual may request reinstatement of benefits, within 5 years of benefits having stopped, without having to file a new application. Up to 6 months of provisional benefits are available while we make a decision on the request.
Extended Period of Eligibility (SSDI)
During the 36 consecutive months following the trial work period, if you qualify, we may restart your SSDI benefits without a new application, disability determination, or waiting period.
Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE) (SSDI and SSI)
We deduct the cost of items and services that you need to work because of your impairment (e.g., attendant care services, medical devices, etc.) when we decide if you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. It does not matter if you also need the items for normal daily activities. We can usually deduct the cost of these same items from earned income to figure your SSI payment.
SSI income includes:
- Earned income — money received from wages, including from a sheltered workshop or work activity center, self-employment earnings, and some royalties and honoraria; and
- Unearned income — money received from all other sources, e.g., gifts, interest, Social Security benefits, Veterans benefits, and pensions. Unearned Income also includes “in-kind income” (free food, clothing or shelter) and “deemed income” (some of the income of a spouse, or parent, or sponsor of an alien).
Income Exclusions (SSI)
Generally, if the item received cannot be used as, or to obtain, food, clothing, or shelter, we do not consider it as income. Income exclusions are used to determine countable income.
Earned income exclusions include:
- The first $65 per month plus one-half of the remaining earnings;
- Impairment-related work expenses or blind work expenses;
- Income you set aside or use to pursue a Plan for Achieving Self-Support.
Unearned income exclusions include:
- The first $20 per month;
- Income you set aside or use to pursue a Plan for Achieving Self-Support;
- State or locally funded assistance based on need;
- Rent subsidies under HUD programs and the value of food stamps;
- Infrequent or irregularly received income ($20 or less a month).
General earned income exclusion
The first $65 ($85 if you have no income other than earnings) of any monthly earned income plus one-half of remaining earnings.
Individual Employment Plan (IEP)
An intensive service provided through the one-stop delivery system. Development of a plan to identify the employment goals, appropriate achievement objectives, and appropriate combination of services for the participant to achieve the employment goals.
Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE)
A written plan of action which outlines the employment goal, criteria to evaluate progress toward the employment goal and the services to be provided. It is developed for each individual who is determined to be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services through the state Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency Contact your state VR agency for more information.
Individual Work Plan (IWP)
A required written document signed by an Employment Network (EN) (other than a State Vocational Rehabilitation agency) and a beneficiary, or a representative of a beneficiary, with a Ticket to outline the specific employment services, vocational rehabilitation services and other support services that the EN and beneficiary have determined are necessary to achieve the beneficiary`s stated employment goal.
Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California, AHCCS in Arizona) (SSI)
Medical coverage provided to a person by the State title XIX program.
Medicaid Protection for People with Disabilities Who Work (SSI)
For people with disabilities who: have earnings that are too high to qualify for Medicaid under current rules; are at least 16, but less than 65 years of age, and meet state resource and income limits, a state may provide Medicaid coverage. A state may also provide Medicaid coverage to these individuals when they lose coverage due to medical improvement, but still have a medically determinable severe impairment.
Medicaid While Working [Section 1619(b)] (SSI)
This is an employment support that is different than Medicaid Protection for People with Disabilities Who Work. Here your Medicaid coverage can continue, even if your earnings alone or in combination with your other income become too high for a SSI cash payment. To qualify you must have been eligible for a SSI cash payment for at least 1 month; still be disabled; still meet all other eligibility rules, including resource test; need Medicaid in order to work and have gross earned income that in insufficient to replace SSI, Medicaid and any publicly funded attendant care.
Health insurance program for eligible disabled individuals and individuals age 65 or older usually consisting of:
- Hospital Insurance under Medicare (Part A);
- Supplementary Medical Insurance under Medicare (Part B); and
- Voluntary prescription drug coverage with a Prescription Drug Provider (PDP) under Part D.
Low-income beneficiaries with Medicare can get extra help paying their prescription drug coverage premiums by filing an application with SSA. More information is available at: www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp/.
Medicare for People With Disabilities Who Work (SSDI)
Some people with disabilities who have returned to work can buy continued Medicare coverage when their premium-free Medicare ends due to work activity. States are required to help pay the hospital insurance premiums for some working individuals with disabilities.
Medical Improvement Expected (MIE)
When we decide you have a disabling impairment, and we also decide that the disabling impairment(s) may improve, we document that your case will need a future review.
Medicaid Infrastructure Grants (MIG)
Section 203 of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 establishes a grant program to support state efforts to enhance employment options for people with disabilities. CMS is the designated agency with administrative responsibility for this grant program.
Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE)
When we decide you have a disabling impairment and also decide the disabling impairment(s) will not improve.
Medical Improvement Possible (MIP)
When we decide you have a disabling impairment and also decide that the disabling impairment(s) may improve.
Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy provides national leadership by developing and influencing disability-related employment policy and practice affecting the employment of people with disabilities.
Outcome-Milestone Payment System
The system providing a schedule of payments under the Ticket to Work program to an employment network that includes, in addition to payments during the outcome payment period, payment for completion by a beneficiary of milestones directed toward the goal of permanent employment.
Outcome Payment System
The system providing a payments under the Ticket to Work program to an employment network for each month, up to a total of 60 months, during which Social Security disability benefits and Federal SSI cash benefits are not payable to a beneficiary because of the performance of substantial gainful activity (SGA) or by reason of earnings from work.
Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS)
Under an approved PASS, you may set aside income and/or resources over a reasonable time which will enable you to reach a work goal to become financially self-supporting. You then can use the income and resources that you set aside to obtain occupational training or education, purchase occupational equipment, establish a business, etc. We do not count the income and resources that you set aside under a PASS when we decide SSI eligibility and payment amount.
SSA employees who are specially trained to assist people when developing a Plan to Achieve Self-Support. PASS experts are located across the country, with at least 1 cadre in each of the 10 SSA regions.
Property Essential for Self Support (PESS)
We do not count some or all of certain property necessary for self-support when we apply the SSI resources test. For example, SSA does not count property such as tools or equipment that are used for work. Or, if an individual has a trade or business, SSA does not count property such as inventory.
An organization in the private or public sector that has entered into a contract to assist SSA in administering the Ticket to Work program.
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security Program (PABSS)
The Social Security Administration, as authorized by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, awarded Work Assistance Program grants to the designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system in each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the P&A system for Native Americans. SSA`s P&A Program, known as Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS), was created to serve SSDI and SSI beneficiaries who want to work despite their continuing disabilities. PABSS grantees will:
- Assist beneficiaries with disabilities in obtaining information and advice about receiving vocational rehabilitation and employment services; and
- Provide advocacy or other related services that beneficiaries with disabilities may need to secure or regain gainful employment.
A general reference source about SSDI and SSI employment supports. Published by the Social Security Administration, its purpose is to give a working knowledge of technical provisions so that rehabilitation professionals, advocates and counselors can appropriately advise individuals with disabilities who express an interest in starting or returning to work.
Resources are anything you own, such as a bank account, stocks, business assets, real property, or personal property that you can use for your support and maintenance. We do not count all your resources when we determine your SSI eligibility.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, whose mission it is to focus on building resilience and facilitating recovery for people with, or at risk for, mental or substance use disorders.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
We evaluate the work activity of persons claiming or receiving disability benefits under SSDI, and/or claiming benefits because of a disability (other than blindness) under SSI. Under both programs, we use earnings guidelines to evaluate your work activity to decide whether the work activity is substantial gainful activity and whether we may consider you disabled under the law. While this is only one of the tests used to decide if you are disabled, it is a critical first step in a disability evaluation. (For SGA amounts, visitSGA Page.)
Social Security Disability Insurance authorized under title II of the Social Security Act.
Supplemental Security Income program authorized under title XVI of the Social Security Act.
State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (State VR agency)
The organization in each State, the District of Columbia or U.S. Territory, that is the designated governmental entity responsible for providing vocational rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities residing within its jurisdiction. In some States a separate State Vocational Rehabilitation agency also exists to provide assistance and services to individuals with a visual impairment.
Subsidies and Special Conditions (SSDI and SSI)
Supports you receive on the job that may result in more pay than the actual value of the work you perform. We use only the actual value of the work you perform when we make a SGA decision.
Supports you receive on the job that may result in more pay than the actual value of the work you perform. We use only the actual value of the work you perform when we make a SGA decision. Clarification on subsidies and special conditions.
Ticket Under the Ticket to Work Program (“Ticket”)
A document which provides evidence of the Commissioner`s agreement to pay an employment network or a State vocational rehabilitation agency, to which a disabled beneficiary`s Ticket is assigned, for providing employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services to the beneficiary.
Ticket to Work Program
The Ticket to Work Program is a voluntary program that offers SSDI and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities a variety of choices in obtaining the support and services they need to help them go to work and achieve their employment goals. If you are eligible and would like to work or increase your current earnings, this program can help you get vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other ongoing support and services to help you do so.
The guidelines SSA uses to determine if a beneficiary is making progress toward self-supporting employment.
Trial Work Period (SSDI)
The trial work period is an incentive for the personal rehabilitation efforts of SSDI beneficiaries who work. The trial work period lets you test your ability to work or run a business for at least 9 months and receive full SSDI benefits (no matter how high your earnings are) if you report your work activity and your impairment does not improve.
Unincurred Business Expenses (SSDI)
Support contributed to your self-employment effort by someone else. If you are self-employed, we deduct unincurred business expenses from earnings when we make a SGA decision.
Using a Ticket
The term used when a beneficiary has assigned a Ticket to an employment network or State vocational rehabilitation agency and is making timely progress toward self-supporting employment.
Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA) (SSDI)
An effort to do substantial work (in employment or self-employment) that you stopped or reduced to below the SGA level after a short time (6 months or less). This change must have resulted because of your impairment, or the removal of special conditions related to your impairment that was essential to the further performance of your work. We do not count earnings during an unsuccessful work attempt when we make an SGA decision.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Those services identified in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, that are provided by a State Vocational Rehabilitation agency (VR) in an individualized plan for employment necessary to assist an individual with a disability in preparing for, securing, retaining, or regaining an employment outcome that is consistent with the strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice of the individual.
Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA)
Public Law 105-220 provides the framework for a national workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both the needs of businesses and job seekers and those who want to further their careers. A key component of the Act enables customers to easily access the information and services they need through the One-Stop Career Center system.
Work Incentive Liaisons (WIL)
Each local Social Security Administration (SSA) office has a Work Incentive Liaison (WIL) who provides advice and information about SSA’s work incentive provisions and employment support programs to individuals with disabilities and outside organizations that serve those with disabilities. Contact your local SSA office for the name and telephone number of this Work Incentive Liaison
Also known as employment supports. Congress developed employment support to give individuals with disabilities assistance to move from benefit dependence to independence.
Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program (WIPA) Project
The Social Security Administration awards grants to community-based organizations as established by Section 121 of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act 0f 1999, Public Law 106-170. The purpose of the WIPA project is to disseminate accurate information to SSA beneficiaries with disabilities about work incentives and employment support programs to better enable them to make informed choices about work. Each WIPA project employs Community Work Incentive Coordinators.