Overview of Disability
Disability Back Pay
Requirements for Disability
Applications for disability
Tips and Advice for Disability Claims
How long does Disability take?
Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after a Denial
Mental Disability Benefits
Denials for Disability
Appeals for denied claims
Disability Benefits from SSA
Child Disability Benefits
Qualifications and How to Qualify
Working and Disability
Disability Awards and Notices
Disability Lawyers, Hiring Attorneys
Social Security List of Conditions
What Social Security considers disabling
Medical Evidence and Disability
Filing for Disability Benefits
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
SSD SSI Definitions
SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Ask a question, get an answer
What is SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity) and how does it affect Social Security Disability and SSI Eligibility?
SGA is an acronym for the Social Security term substantial gainful activity. According to the Social Security Administration's definition of disability, in order to be considered disabled and eligible to receive disability benefits, a person must have functional limitations (mental, physical, or both) that are severe enough to restrict their ability to engage in work activity.
How Social Security determines disability
SSA (social security administration) determines if a claimant is disabled by evaluating their medical and work histories and then rating their condition; claimants are given physical residual functional capacity ratings and mental residual functional capacity ratings by disability examiners (or by judges at the disability hearing level). However, whether or not a claimant is disabled can also be determined by a claimant's work activity.
For this reason, Social Security must evaluate an individualís earnings when they apply for disability, and also during future reviews of their claim--this is known as a continuing disability review, or CDR.
SGA, or substantial gainful activity, is tied to a specific monetary amount; in other words, a monthly earnings limit. To put it briefly, if a person who is filing for disability is earning more than the SGA amount, their claim will be given what is referred to as a technical denial.
When a case is given a technical denial, the denial occurs at the social security office almost immediately, meaning that the case is never sent to disability determination services and assigned to a disability examiner for processing.
Translation: there is no point to filing a claim if you are currently working and earning at least the SGA amount...however, if your condition causes you to stop work or causes your earnings to drop below the SGA limit, consider filing a claim.
The SGA amount is subject to change as a result of inflation adjustments. Currently, for 2015, the SGA amount is $1090.00. Please keep in mind that this is gross monthly earned income (before taxes).
The Social Security administrationís definition of disability is based on an individualís inability to engage in work activity that produces substantial and gainful income; in other words, the inability to work and earn at least that much (the current limit for SGA per month).
At the time you file a disability application, if you are earning over the SGA amount, you will be denied for an initial disability claim, regardless of your medical condition. Remember, too, if you are receiving disability benefits the SGA monthly amount will also affect you. For this reason, you should call your local Social Security office about any work activity you engage in (including self employment).
Return to: Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions
Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria