What Substantial Gainful Activity Means When Earning Social Security

If you are afflicted with a medical condition that prevents you from working, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The rules applying this form of assistance can be complex and the application process is a difficult one, however. One problem area concerns those who begin to earn money after they have been approved for benefits. Read on to learn more about substantial gainful activity (SGA).

What Is Meant by Substantial Gainful Activity?

This term is one you are very likely to come across when dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA). SGA refers to a variety of different situations so the meaning can vary depending on how it's used. The activity referred to in the term can mean the work you used to do at your most recent job before you became unable to work. It can be used to describe any work you do after you apply for benefits as well as the work you do after you are approved for benefits. The term SGA means more than just money earned, however. It also means doing the same tasks that you were doing in your most recent job. If you worked as a truck driver before you became disabled, doing truck driving work of any type is considered SGA.

Earning Income While Being Paid Benefits

If you are approved for SSDI benefits, you may be unpleasantly surprised at the amount of the monthly amount. Your Social Security benefit payment is not meant to replace the salary in your most recent job. The amount you get is based on a complicated mathematical formula that takes into consideration the amount you have paid into the Social Security system for the past several years. It's only natural that you will want to supplement the Social Security payment with other income and you can do so as long as you follow the rules.

SGA Limitations and Rules

As of 2019, recipients of SSDI are allowed to earn up to $1,220 ($2,040 for the blind) and still retain the ability to get their benefits. You must report all income to the SSA and, additionally, the way you earn the income must comply with the rules for SGA. You cannot earn any amount of money if you do so by performing work that is essentially the same as in your previous job. As long as the job tasks are different, you may be allowed to earn the income. For example, those who have a medical condition that affects their ability to use their legs may find a desk job.

If you have reason to believe that you might lose your Social Security benefits because of violating SGA rules, speak to a Social Security attorney at once. If you have been turned down for benefits, get support and get the benefits you need and deserve.