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What is considered substantial gainful activity?

Living with a disability can be very challenging and overwhelming for individuals in New York and elsewhere. Whether you were born with a disability or acquired one later in life due to an injury or illness, there are options available for those living with disabilities that are unable to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established programs that are designed for those living with disabilities, with the goal being to assist those with limited income and resources.

When it comes to receiving Social Security Disability through SSDI or SSI, applicants must not only prove that they qualify for these benefits because they meet the definition of disabled, but they also must prove that they cannot meet their basic living needs because of their disability. For those unable to work or only able to work limited hours, an applicant must prove that they are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.

What does the SSA considered substantial gainful activity? This is defined at the level of work activity an individual can do and the earning they can gain. Work is considered to be substantial if it involves significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both activities. A worker's earning is considered to be substantial is they make more than a certain amount of money while doing productive work.

Based on the parameters set for 2017, for blind individuals, to be considered making a substantial gainful activity amount, an applicant must be making $1950 a month or more. For a non-blind applicant, the monthly substantial gainful activity amount is $1170 a month. It should be noted that substantial gainful activity does not apply for blind applicant receiving SSI benefits.

For those that are disabled and are seeking to return to work, it is possible to have a trial work period. This allows the individual to return to work for a certain amount of time without having their benefits interrupted. This remains even if the worker makes more than the threshold set for substantial gainful activity.

Collecting SSD benefits is often necessary for disabled individuals. If you are concerned that you benefits will stop because you seek to return to work part-time or full-time, it is important to understand how returning to work could impact benefits and how you could regain benefits if you are unable to work again.

Source: Ssa.gov, "Substantial Gainful Activity," accessed May 21, 2017

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