TN 10 (06-24)

DI 10515.005 Evaluation of Work of Blind Self-Employed Persons (Title II)

A. Evaluating work activity

Consider the following when evaluating work activity for self-employed blind persons:

  • Evaluate whether the blind person has received a substantial income from the business by determining their countable income, as described in the second bullet in this subsection.

  • Determine the blind person’s countable income by deducting the reasonable value of any applicable items or expenses. For example, you may deduct unpaid help, impairment-related work expenses (if they were not already deducted from gross income as a business expense), soil bank payments (if payments were included as income by a farmer), or unincurred business expenses. For countable income procedure, see DI 10510.012.

  • Determine substantial gainful activity (SGA) by using the SGA threshold amounts for blind persons, see DI 10501.015.

  • Always evaluate self-employment activity of blind persons in terms of the blind dollar amounts shown in the SGA earnings guidelines for persons who are blind. Do not evaluate it under the comparability and worth of work tests. For more information on comparability and worth of work tests, see DI 10510.020.


    To evaluate work activity prior to 1978, the principles of evaluating self-employment income by blind self-employed persons that show an ability to perform SGA are the same as those for other self-employed persons. For more information on processing self-employed income, see DI 10510.001 through DI 10510.020

  • Evaluate a blind worker, CDB, or DWB claimant age 55 or older under the work comparability provisions. For more information on comparability, see DI 10515.015.

B. The Randolph-Sheppard Act and similar state programs

Congress enacted a law called the Randolph-Sheppard Act (Chapter 6A under Title 20 of the U.S. Code). This law provides that we give entrepreneurial opportunities to blind persons who operate vending facilities as a business on federal property. In addition, under the Randolph-Sheppard Act program, a blind vendor who operates a vending facility on federal property may also receive income from vending machines that are located on the same property, even though the blind vendor does not service, operate, or maintain the vending machines.

There are similar state programs that also allow blind vendors to operate vending facilities on state and local government properties. Like the Randolph-Sheppard Act program, many of these state programs also provide the blind vendor with income from vending machines located on the same property, but operated independently of the blind vendor’s vending facility business.

Effective 09/21/2012, we published a Social Security Ruling (SSR), SSR 12-1p, that addresses the evaluation of vending machine income from blind self-employed persons. Note that we are addressing vending machine income, NOT vending facility income.

C. Definition of a vending machine

A vending machine is a coin or currency operated machine that dispenses articles or services, except machines operated by the United States Postal Service for the sale of postage stamps or other postal services and products (telephones are not vending machines).

D. Evaluating vending machine income under the Randolph-Sheppard Act and similar state programs

Effective 09/21/2012, under the Randolph-Sheppard Act (and similar state programs), we do not count the income that blind self-employed vendors receive under the Randolph-Shepard Act (and similar state programs) from vending machines located on the same property, but not serviced, operated, or maintained by the blind vendor, as self-employment income for Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) purposes because the:

  • income received is not a measure of the blind vendor’s own productivity, therefore, it does not represent the actual value of the work activity, and

  • income is independent of the blind vendor’s own vending business; therefore, we cannot attribute it to the blind vendor’s own work activity.

If the vending machine income meets the criteria in DI 10515.005D in this section, deduct the vending machine income from their net income, and then apply the SGA earnings guidelines. For more information on significant services and self-employment income, see DI 10510.001B.

Since the blind vendor does not pay rent for the government-leased space, you must develop, document, and deduct any unincurred business expenses that rehabilitation agencies pay for. For more information regarding unincurred business expenses, see DI 10510.012B.3.


Blind vendors are not required to complete a form that could assist in case development; therefore, adjudicators rely on the blind vendor’s affirmation, tax records, and the information from the SSA-820-BK (Work Activity Report-Self-Employment) to confirm self-employment income. Continue to document all self-employed income (whether deducted or not), following normal guidelines in DI 10510.025 and DI 13010.025.



E. References

  • DI 10501.015 Tables of SGA Earnings Guidelines and Effective Dates Based on Year of Work Activity

  • DI 10510.025 Documenting Self-Employment Cases Using the SSA-820-BK (Work Activity Report-Self-Employment) and the SSA-823 (Report of SGA Determination- For SSA Use Only)

  • RS 01803.000 Net Earnings from Self-Employment – Table of Contents

  • Randolph-Sheppard Act U.S. Department of Education, Program Office: Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA)

  • The Government Printing Office ( Federal Register Volume 77, Number 184 (Friday, September 21, 2012)

  • Social Security Ruling (SSR), 12–1p Title II: Determining Whether Work Performed in Self-Employment by Persons Who Are Blind Is Substantial Gainful Activity and Treatment of Income Resulting From The Randolph-Sheppard Act and Similar Programs

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DI 10515.005 - Evaluation of Work of Blind Self-Employed Persons (Title II) - 06/13/2024
Batch run: 06/13/2024