Social Security Disability Resource Center
Overview | How to Qualify | Applications
Requirements | How long it takes | Back Pay
Mental Disability | What is a disability? | Tips
SSI Benefits | How to Win | Disability Awards
Hearings | Appeals | List of Disabling Conditions
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 2019, the SGA amount is $1220.00, which is $40 higher than the prior year. 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).
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
The SSDRC Disability Blog
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
Getting disability in North Carolina
Are You Allowed to Work While Receiving Social Security Disability or SSI?
What is an unsuccessful work attempt?
If my medical condition keeps me from working will I get Social Security disability?
Canít Work In My Old Job, How Does Social Security Disability Consider This?
Social Security Disability And Trial Work Months: You are allowed to Work
Medical Disability - How does Social Security view your work and medical records
Is there a Maximum I can Work and Make if I am on SSD or SSI Disability Benefits?
Working while getting Disability - Is it Possible?
Can You Work While You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Decision?
How long do you have To Be Out Of Work Before You Get Social Security Disability (SSD)?
Can I work without it affecting my social security disability or SSI?
What happens if you are working when you file for disability or work after you apply for disability?
Will working part-time affect my SSD?
Working while on Social Security Disability and Not Reporting
What is SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity)?
If I Apply For Disability And Go Back To Work, Do I Need To Report This?
Are you allowed to work at all if you get Social Security disability or SSI?
Will I qualify for disability Benefits in Wisconsin?
If you apply for disability in in Wisconsin
Getting a Disability Lawyer in Wisconsin
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