Understanding substantial gainful activity

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2022 | Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration has specific criteria applicants must meet if they want approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). And substantial gainful activity can be a crucial factor applicants overlook.

If any applicant engages in substantial gainful activity, the SSA may deny them benefits. So, what is a substantial gainful activity? And how SSA determine whether someone’s SGA makes someone eligible or ineligible for benefits?

What is SGA?

Substantial gainful activity refers to a person’s ability to work and how much money they make from that work every month. A person’s job duties are defined as “substantial” if they require a lot of mental or physical effort – even if that work is part-time. And “gainful” typically refers to any duty you perform for pay.

Examples of substantial gainful activity can often be vague, complex and apply to people’s situations differently. An experienced disability attorney can provide more context and information on how SGA applies to you.

How does the SSA determine SGA?

Workers must show that they’re making below the monthly SGA limits if they wish to qualify for SSDI. If you’re not blind, the 2022 cutoff is $1350 per month. If you are blind, the 2022 cutoff is $2260 per month.

The SSA can also consider other factors when determining your SGA limits. Those can usually include:

  • Volunteering
  • Investing
  • Criminal activity
  • Running a small business

The SSA may consider these activities as substantial gainful activities. If they do, it could disqualify you from SSDI benefits.

There can be lot of a grey area when it comes to SGA

Determining what is and is not substantial gainful activity isn’t always easy. But by having a basic understanding of what it is and how it can determine your eligibility, you can gain more knowledge as you move through the different steps of the SSDI application process.

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