The Social Security Administration awards disability benefits to individuals who suffer from a medical condition that prevents them from working. The purpose of these benefits is to assist disabled individuals who are struggling financially due to their inability to work.
If you’re collecting SS disability benefits while working at least part-time, then there are a few things you need to know about that could affect your benefits amount.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) refers to the sum of income earned in a given month from working. The SSA frequently reviews your SGA to determine if you are meeting their criteria for disability benefits. If you’re working part-time and are earning more than the maximum amount per month set by the SSA, then your eligibility for SS disability benefits could be in jeopardy.
The SGA for 2018 is set at:
- $1,180 per month for non-blind applicants
- $1,970 per month for blind applicants
If you’re earning more than the set maximum shown above before applying for disability benefits, it’s extremely likely that the SSA will not view you as disabled and as a result, your application will be denied. However, if you’re able to prove that your work doesn’t contribute to substantial gainful activity, even if you exceeded the set maximum, you may be able to save your claim as the SSA continues to the next stage in the application process: verifying that you have a qualifying disability.
If you quit your job before submitting your disability application, then you’ll need to provide evidence that you quit due your medical conditioning getting worse and preventing you from working, instead of quitting for the sole purpose of reducing your SGA to meet the SSA’s criteria.
Say that you managed to earn an income that doesn’t exceed the SSA’s set maximum, they could still perform an evaluation of your ability to work. So just because you have a low income, that doesn’t mean you are physically unable to work, and the SSA will evaluate the severity of your medical condition to determine if you’re physically capable of working and the low income is simply a result of your own decision.
For example, if you’re volunteering while applying for disability benefits. While you may not be getting paid to help a local animal shelter, you being able to volunteer would reveal that you’re physically capable of completing other work with your medical condition and thus do not require disability benefits from the SSA
On the opposite end, just because you’re earning high wages doesn’t mean you’re contributing to substantial gainful activity. Your wages could be earned by working under certain conditions that take into consideration your disability, which does not tell the complete story of your capability to work.
You’re Not Alone
If you have further questions, it’s best to speak with a qualified Social Security disability attorney for help completing your application, gathering necessary documentation and possibly representing you in court during the appeals process if your case reaches that stage of the application process.