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substantial gainful activity

Substantial Gainful Activity for Social Security Disability Insurance

Once you complete the Trial Work Period (TWP), you may wonder what happens next. After returning to work and finishing TWP, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) as a way to determine if you are eligible to continue to receive disability benefits. SGA refers to how the SSA evaluates the level of work activity and earnings for a person.

What does Substantial Gainful Activity mean?

“Substantial” means if someone is able to complete physical, mental or both activities for work. The work does not have to be full-time, but is also considered for part-time work.

“Gainful” refers to if someone is doing work for payment or profit. This includes if a person receives payment, is doing work that is typically done for a profit, or if the work is done with an intention to get paid (despite receiving a profit or not).

How to know if your work activity falls under SGA?

The amount of money you receive each month that is considered to qualify for Substantial Gainful Activity is based on the type of disability you have. There is a higher SGA monthly earnings for those who are blind. Amounts of earnings that make someone eligible for SGA are adjusted each year. For 2017 they are:

– Earnings of $1,170 or more a month fall under SGA.

– If you are blind, earnings of $1,950 or more fall under SGA.

Conditions for self-employment

For self-employment, there are two tests SSA uses to determine if you work qualifies under SGA.

 

Three Tests:

This test is used to evaluate your work when you first apply for Social Security Disability Income or before you receive SSDI benefits for 24 months. It is also used during the re-entitlement period of EPE, in order to see if your benefits may be reinstated. The conditions for the three tests include:

1. You must provide significant services AND earn an average monthly payment of more than $1,170.

2. Your work quality is comparable to that of someone without a disability who is in a similar work position.

3. Your work is worth more than SGA level earnings.

 

Countable Income Test:

This test is applied once you start getting SSDI benefits for 24 months. The SSA also uses this test in order to see if your disability is gone after doing SGA. A person is considered under SGA if they are earning $1,170 or more, unless they are not providing significant services with their work. If someone earns less than this amount per month, their work isn’t SGA.

 

If you have further questions about Substantial Gainful Activity or Social Security Disability Benefits, contact our office today at 216-282-1773.