Clear & Honest Answers
To Questions About Your Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Benefits

Attorney Shawn Taylor

What Does Substantial Gainful Activity Mean For Disability Benefits?

Disability benefits through the Social Security Administration are available to those unable to work due to a chronic and disabling condition. But what does “unable to work” mean? What if you’re earning some income, but it’s not enough to support yourself?

Substantial gainful activity (SGA) is the standard that the Social Security Administration uses to determine whether you’re unable to work. Put simply, if your income is above the threshold specified by the SGA standard, you won’t be considered unable to work.

What Amount Of Monthly Income Is Considered Substantial Gainful Activity?

The amount that you’re “allowed” to earn and still receive disability benefits (whether Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income) goes up each year, based on cost of living and inflation. It’s a higher amount for those who are blind.

An Important Caveat

You could get disqualified for disability benefits if you’re performing work that is typically paid, even if you don’t actually get paid for it. This is true even if it’s part time. If you’re doing any kind of work activities that require significant physical or mental effort, it could amount to substantial gainful employment, which would jeopardize your benefits.

Changes To Your Income

If you’re working while receiving SSD or SSI benefits, you’ll need to report your monthly earnings, including those from self-employment. The Social Security Administration offers work incentives for both SSD and SSI if you’d like to consider returning to work without jeopardizing your benefits. Make sure you talk to a knowledgeable lawyer before taking on new work that could impact your disability benefits.

The Bottom Line: Talk To A Lawyer

The rules around substantial gainful employment and other eligibility criteria for disability benefits are incredibly complicated. At Shawn Taylor, PLLC, our attorney can help you navigate those rules. He can advise you on the specifics of how they apply to your situation.

Learn more by calling our office in Charleston at 304-932-4619. You can also reach us online for a free 30-minute phone consultation.