What Is Substantial Gainful Activity for Social Security Disability?

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

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you have to demonstrate that you aren’t engaged in any substantial gainful activity. According to the Social Security Administration, a person who is earning more than a certain amount of money per month is considered to be engaging in substantial gainful activity.

If you’ve been denied Social Security disability benefits, it may be due to your current income. Here are a few of the most important things to know about substantial gainful activity for Social Security disability purposes.

What is substantial gainful activity?

One of the main requirements for Social Security disability is that your health prevents you from being able to work and support yourself financially for at least 12 months. In other words, you must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of your disability.

If you’re able to engage in substantial gainful activity, Social Security will find that you’re able to earn the same as a person without a disability.

How does Social Security determine substantial gainful activity?

If Social Security determines that your income meets the level required for substantial gainful activity, it will likely deem you ineligible for benefits. Also, if you earn an amount equal to substantial gainful activity while receiving benefits, your benefits may stop pending a trial work period.

During a trial work period, you can test your ability to work and still be considered disabled. In 2022, any month in which your earnings exceed $970 or in which you work more than 80 hours is considered a “service month” that is part of your trial work period. So, if you worked in October and November and earned $1,500 and $750 respectively, only October would count as a service month.

In 2023, this monthly income threshold will increase to $1,050.

What happens if I work too much to qualify for disability benefits?

If you complete nine months of a trial work period, next you’ll start a 36-month period called an extended period of eligibility. If you continue to work during this period, Social Security will review your work and earnings. If you continue earning more than the threshold amounts of $1,350 if you aren’t blind or $2,260 if you are blind, you’ll be engaging in substantial gainful activity. If you don’t meet this threshold, you’ll earn disability benefits for that month.

If you meet the substantial gainful activity threshold and it’s the first time you’ve done so since your trial work period, you’ll get disability benefits from Social Security for that month plus the following two months. Then, if there’s any month in the 36-month extended period of eligibility when you don’t meet the substantial gainful activity threshold, you can restart your Social Security disability benefits without having to file a new application.

Confusing, isn’t it! That’s why so many people ask lawyers for help with their disability benefits claims.

Where to get help with your Social Security disability benefits questions

If you or a loved one were denied Social Security disability benefits after engaging in substantial gainful activity, we might be able to help. Call Hunter & Everage now for a free consultation with our experienced Social Security disability lawyers. We can help you understand your eligibility and your options regarding your Social Security disability benefits.

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