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How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

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 individual’s 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).

To reiterate

The Social Security administration’s definition of disability is based on an individual’s 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).








Essential Questions

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Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

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Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

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What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state



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Related pages:

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?
Can’t 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
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Working while getting Disability - Is it Possible?
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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

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These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

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?









For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.