20 CFR 416.1102(a)
The general issue in this case is whether the claimant received excess income which must be counted toward reducing her SSI benefits. The specific issue is whether the cost of the airline ticket to Venezuela the claimant received can be considered income, as that term is defined in the law and regulations.
The claimant was dissatisfied with SSA's determination that she must refund an overpayment of $311.00 in SSI benefits, paid during the second quarter of 1978, representing the cost of an airline ticket to and from Venezuela. The claimant received the ticket from her daughter-in-law in May, 1978 to visit her family. The daughter-in-law charged the ticket to her own credit card to be paid in small monthly installments. If the claimant had not used the ticked, she could not have received its cash equivalent, only a credit on the credit card account of her daughter-in-law. Even if the claimant had technically been able to covert the ticket to cash, the file indicates that the daughter-in-law would have asked for the money back since her gift was for the limited purpose of providing the claimant with transportation to Venezuela.
Regulation 416.1102(a) of Social Security Regulations No. 16 defines Income as follows:
The case turns on the definition of income. It seems clear that the claimant could not have applied the airline ticket either directly or by sale or conversion to meeting her basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter. If she had not used the ticket, she would have received nothing. Therefore, the airline ticket was not income. Consequently, the claimant was not overpaid in SSI benefits and need not refund any money to SSA.
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