There are a few things to consider when you are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability benefits. First, are your gross earnings over what the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers substantial gainful activity (SGA)? This is the very first detail SSA looks at when determining your eligibility. If you are working and earning over SGA – which is $1,180 in 2018 – or capable of earning over that amount, SSA will determine that you are not disabled. If your gross earnings are over SGA when you apply for disability you will be notified by SSA stating that you are denied benefits based on your earnings. No further development of your claim and no medical decision will be made at that time.
However, you may apply for disability as long as your gross earnings are under SGA. That means, if you earn less than $1,180 gross a month, you may apply for Social Security Disability benefits. SSA will still need to make a medical determination about whether you are capable of working gainfully and earning over SGA due to your severe medical impairments. You still need to meet the medical criteria for disability.
Finally, when you are self-employed, income is not the only factor that is considered when determining if your employment is substantial gainful activity. There are two other tests. One is whether your work activity, in terms of factors such as hours, skills, energy output, efficiency, duties, and responsibilities, is comparable to that of unimpaired individuals in your community who are in the same or similar businesses. Another test measures the value of what you do for your business. Your work is considered over SGA if the value of what you do is clearly worth more than SGA.
We often ask our clients to save all paycheck stubs or income documentation they receive in case we need to prove income amounts. If you should have any questions regarding work and income, I would encourage you to speak with your representative because there are many intricate details that they can help explain.
Representative Bart Paynter