What Is Substantial Gainful Activity All About?

If you are trying to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may encounter the term substantial gainful activity (SGA). This is an important aspect of your Social Security claim and knowing what it means will save you time and stress if you understand it.

SGA and How it Affects Claimants

SGA is a complex part of your benefits. It can be difficult to understand but it can keep you from being approved for benefits and it can also get your benefits removed. Part of the confusion lies in that SGA has two meanings. It not only applies to how much income you can earn but also how you earn it. It applies to money earned from a job and what types of tasks you do to obtain that income.

What to Know About Income Issues

SGA is set each year. This year, (2022) you can earn up to $1,350 (more for the blind). However, that is not the entire story. That amount applies to people who have already been approved for benefits. If you are now applying, you cannot earn any SGA at all. After all, if you can earn money, you may not need SSDI benefits.

Once you are approved for benefits, you can take advantage of several work programs that allow you to earn some money. You must report your earnings to the Social Security Administration (SSA) each month. Even if you are paid cash "under the table", it must be reported. However, you cannot earn more than the set amount, ordinarily.

SGA Means the Physical Work

When you apply for SSDI, you are pledging that you are unable to perform work that earns income. That applies to both income and the physical activities you perform to earn that money. For instance, if you are applying for SSDI because you have a heart condition, you probably are too tired to do a lot of physical tasks because of your heart. If you decide to take on a part-time job after you have been approved for benefits, you should be very careful about the work you choose to engage in. The SSA may investigate and find that you are engaging in SGA because you are doing the same type of work that you claimed you could not do in your application. That can cause problems even if you work part-time and don't exceed the income allowed.

Getting approved in a timely manner and getting your benefits started back can be difficult. Speak to a Social Security lawyer to find out how you can appeal any adverse rulings and get your benefits reinstated. 

For more information, contact a local disability attorney

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