Understanding Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Substantial gainful activity

If you or your loved one is disabled, you may have heard of the term substantial gainful work. This is a term used largely on disability benefits. Being incapable of performing substantially gainful employment is one major criterion used by Social Security to determine whether you are eligible for benefits. To get benefits, you have to prove that:

  • You have little or no source of income
  • You are physically and mentally disabled
  • You are not working, and if working, you cannot make up to a substantial gainful activity level.

 What Is Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)?

?Substantial gainful activity?is the performance of vital duties that could be done over a given reasonable period of time to get profit or pay. Inability to be engaged in a substantial gainful activity means that you are working but earning less than a certain specified amount of money.

Substantial gainful activity

If you were injured while working and claim to be disabled, the Social Security Administration will be eager to check whether you can perform any substantial work. Meaning, if you are working and not earning a given amount of money, you may be eligible for disability benefits.?Since the set limit of what amount is used to determine SGA keep on changing, one would prefer getting legal advice in case of any claim concern.??

 It?s worth noting that not every activity is considered substantial. The SSA doesn’t consider the below as SGA:

  • Doing your hobby
  • Attending school or church
  • Basic personal hygiene chores

 SGA doesn?t involve any work you do at home to take care of yourself and your family. Again, it cannot include volunteer work or activities to do with social programs. 

Though the SSA may not use the above to determine SGA, such may still be used when obtaining evidence of your disability benefits. For instance, if you can do some chores outside of your work without any limitations, such may be used to decide your ability to work.  

 Substantial Gainful Activity For Disability Benefits

 For any disability benefits, you either have to deal with:

  • Supplement Security Income (SSI) for those who can pay for the Social Security program, whether employed or not.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) involves disability benefits for those who get their payroll deduction to pay for the Social Security program.

  To obtain SSI, it must be proven that you have a condition, physical or mental, that is distracting you from engaging in a substantial gainful work for a period of at least 12 months.

?Where it’s determined that you are working at the SGA level, and you have filed for benefits, such benefits are automatically denied. If you have applied for SSDI or SSI and have been denied, you may?find lawyers in Anchorage?to help you understand the reasons for denial. In some case, you may find that the Social Security Administration omitted some issues, or in other situations, your case may demand such denial.

 It?s good to note that low earnings are not proof that you’re unable to work. To receive benefits, the SSA will have to scrutinize under which circumstances you can perform such work. As earlier mentioned, the SSA may also consider your volunteer activities to consider what you can do, but such will not be considered SGA. Conversely, having a higher earning doesn?t mean that you were involved in SGA, even if your work demanded special treatment. If you were seeking for disability benefits, you can argue that your income would be lower except for:

 *The assistance you received from your employer. Your employer may have given reasonable accommodation, and this assisted you to perform your work. Under this, you can prove that:

  • You had time to take of break. 
  • You had special equipment that better suited your disability
  • You got time off to attend to medical treatment or therapies
  • Your employer allowed you to work even if your productivity was low

With the above, you may still qualify to get disability benefits.

 Will You Continue Getting Benefits Even After You Stop Working?

If you were?receiving Social Security benefits?and stop working, you might wonder whether the SGA will still offer you benefits. You have to prove that you stopped working because of your medical condition worsening. In such a situation, the SSA will evaluate whether to consider your work as an unsuccessful work attempt. Meaning, if so, any income you obtained in such a case will not be considered relevant for making the SGA decision. Hence, you can continue working as long as you meet the SSA disability rules.

 If you have a claim which involves determining whether your work activities fall under or above the SGA level, you can speak with an experienced disability lawyer. Such a lawyer can advise you on what to do to receive or continue receiving disability benefits.

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