Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Appendix E to Part 26 - Individual Determinations of Social and Economic Disadvantage

The following guidance is adapted, with minor modifications, from SBA regulations concerning social and economic disadvantage determinations (see 13 CFR 124.103(c) and 124.104).

Social Disadvantage

  1. Socially disadvantaged individuals are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of their identities as members of groups and without regard to their individual qualities. Social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond their control. Evidence of individual social disadvantage must include the following elements:

    1. At least one objective distinguishing feature that has contributed to social disadvantage, such as race, ethnic origin, gender, disability, long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society, or other similar causes not common to individuals who are not socially disadvantaged;

    2. Personal experiences of substantial and chronic social disadvantage in American society, not in other countries; and

    3. Negative impact on entry into or advancement in the business world because of the disadvantage. Recipients will consider any relevant evidence in assessing this element. In every case, however, recipients will consider education, employment and business history, where applicable, to see if the totality of circumstances shows disadvantage in entering into or advancing in the business world.

      1. Education. Recipients will consider such factors as denial of equal access to institutions of higher education and vocational training, exclusion from social and professional association with students or teachers, denial of educational honors rightfully earned, and social patterns or pressures which discouraged the individual from pursuing a professional or business education.

      2. Employment. Recipients will consider such factors as unequal treatment in hiring, promotions and other aspects of professional advancement, pay and fringe benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment; retaliatory or discriminatory behavior by an employer or labor union; and social patterns or pressures which have channeled the individual into non-professional or non-business fields.

      3. Business history. The recipient will consider such factors as unequal access to credit or capital, acquisition of credit or capital under commercially unfavorable circumstances, unequal treatment in opportunities for government contracts or other work, unequal treatment by potential customers and business associates, and exclusion from business or professional organizations.

  2. With respect to paragraph I. (A) of this appendix, the Department notes that people with disabilities have disproportionately low incomes and high rates of unemployment. Many physical and attitudinal barriers remain to their full participation in education, employment, and business opportunities available to the general public. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in recognition of the discrimination faced by people with disabilities. It is plausible that many individuals with disabilities--especially persons with severe disabilities (e.g., significant mobility, vision, or hearing impairments)--may be socially and economically disadvantaged.

  3. Under the laws concerning social and economic disadvantage, people with disabilities are not a group presumed to be disadvantaged. Nevertheless, recipients should look carefully at individual showings of disadvantage by individuals with disabilities, making a case-by-case judgment about whether such an individual meets the criteria of this appendix. As public entities subject to Title II of the ADA, recipients must also ensure their DBE programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities. For example, physical barriers or the lack of application and information materials in accessible formats cannot be permitted to thwart the access of potential applicants to the certification process or other services made available to DBEs and applicants.

Economic Disadvantage

  • General. Economically disadvantaged individuals are socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities as compared to others in the same or similar line of business who are not socially disadvantaged.

  • Submission of narrative and financial information.

    1. Each individual claiming economic disadvantage must describe the conditions which are the basis for the claim in a narrative statement, and must submit personal financial information.

    2. When married, an individual claiming economic disadvantage also must submit separate financial information for his or her spouse, unless the individual and the spouse are legally separated.

  • Factors to be considered. In considering diminished capital and credit opportunities, recipients will examine factors relating to the personal financial condition of any individual claiming disadvantaged status, including personal income for the past two years (including bonuses and the value of company stock given in lieu of cash), personal net worth, and the fair market value of all assets, whether encumbered or not. Recipients will also consider the financial condition of the applicant compared to the financial profiles of small businesses in the same primary industry classification, or, if not available, in similar lines of business, which are not owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in evaluating the individual’s access to credit and capital. The financial profiles that recipients will compare include total assets, net sales, pre-tax profit, sales/working capital ratio, and net worth.

  • Transfers within two years

    1. Except as set forth in paragraph (D)(2) of this appendix, recipients will attribute to an individual claiming disadvantaged status any assets which that individual has transferred to an immediate family member, or to a trust, a beneficiary of which is an immediate family member, for less than fair market value, within two years prior to a concern’s application for participation in the DBE program, unless the individual claiming disadvantaged status can demonstrate that the transfer is to or on behalf of an immediate family member for that individual’s education, medical expenses, or some other form of essential support.

    2. Recipients will not attribute to an individual claiming disadvantaged status any assets transferred by that individual to an immediate family member that are consistent with the customary recognition of special occasions, such as birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and retirements.

    3. In determining an individual’s access to capital and credit, recipients may consider any assets that the individual transferred within such two-year period described by paragraph (D)(1) of this appendix that are not considered in evaluating the individual’s assets and net worth (e.g., transfers to charities).