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A woman researches details about substantial gain activity at home with her laptop.


A woman researches details about substantial gain activity at home with her laptop.

Are you applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income? If so, it’s important to be aware of the term “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA) as it’s used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine if an individual is truly disabled. The SSA evaluates SGA based on monthly income, but various other factors may also be considered. Being familiar with these guidelines can greatly increase your chances of successfully obtaining disability payments. 

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at SGA and provide valuable information and insights from The Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour to help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success. So, if you’re planning to apply for disability payments, don’t miss out on this essential information.

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The SSA’s Definition of SGA

When it comes to SGA, there is a specific definition set in place by the SSA to determine who is and is not eligible for disability payments through the SSDI and SSI programs. The SSA uses the SGA requirement to filter out individuals who are making as much or more than those without a disability and, thus, are not at a relative disadvantage.

The SSA sets a monthly threshold for SGA and if your income exceeds that amount, it could mean you are not eligible for disability payments. For 2023, the monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals is $2,460, and for non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount is $1,470.

That being said, there are some exceptions to the rule.

Low Income, Still Engaging in SGA

An independently contracted construction worker holds his leg in pain after accidentally injuring himself.

In some situations, a person’s income may be below the SGA threshold but they can still be considered to be participating in SGA.

Take, for example, a contract worker like a drywall installer who has a previous back injury that makes it difficult for them to work. The SSA may determine that this person is not able to secure contracts due to factors not related to the injury, such as the current job market. Even though their income may be low, they could still be considered ineligible for benefits in terms of SGA.

Similarly, someone who does volunteer work could also be engaging in SGA since this labor indicates that they have the capacity to work in a wage-earning position. Even though they are not receiving a salary, they could be considered capable of taking on a paid job, leading them to be disqualified for disability payments.

Income Higher Than SGA, Still Eligible

On the other side of the coin, someone may be bringing in more monthly income than the SGA allows but still technically be eligible for disability payments. The SSA takes into account that certain types of income, such as interest on accounts, returns from investments, and donations or gifts, do not count toward SGA income.

Additionally, the SSA allows some applicants earning above the SGA level to qualify for disability payments under particular circumstances. Circumstances like the following indicate that the employee would otherwise be earning less or not working:

  • Receiving regular special assistance from other employees
  • Receiving special equipment or duties designed to accommodate their disability
  • Working fewer hours and/or taking an increased amount of rest breaks
  • Benefiting from special arrangements, like getting picked up for work every morning
  • Working a job they would have otherwise been unable to obtain because the employer knew them personally or hired them out of personal concern for their welfare

Another situation that falls under this exception would be a disabled person that owns their own business. In a scenario like this, the SSA will examine actual income from the company compared to the applicant’s own labor contributions compared to non-disabled people in a similar industry.

Navigate the Rules and Exceptions With the Help of Dr. Bill

An experienced Social Security Disability claims attorney helps a client navigate the details of a case.

As you can see, the SGA requirements can be complex with many exceptions. Keeping track of these guidelines and assembling all of the necessary information for your SSDI or SSI application can be overwhelming and confusing. But don’t worry — you don’t have to do it alone.

Dr. Bill LaTour is here to help. He and his team have years of experience helping disabled individuals in the Greater Los Angeles area, the Inland Empire, and Orange County get the disability benefits they need. 

Don’t let the SGA requirements hold you back from getting the disability benefits you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bill LaTour and his team today by calling 877-668-9510 or filling out our online form. Let us help you navigate the SGA requirements with ease and get you on the path to the financial security you deserve.