Can you perform work at SGA?


Can you perform work at Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)?

This is better known as the are you working, if so how much, and/or are accommodations being made to allow you to work. If someone can work above SGA which in 2021 is more than 1,310 dollars a month then they are not disabled unless they can show significant accommodations being made. If they are making less than that amount they are still considered to be working too much if they work more than 20 hours per week.

Generally working above SGA will lead to a denial even when one clearly has a disabling condition, therefore if you are able to work at or above the substantial gainful activity level (SGA), you are not deemed disabled.  Under Social Security regulations, you are not considered disabled. Because you are able to work, you do not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. There are exceptions to this:

  • If you are working full time, but your medical expense, which let you work, are so high that your pre-tax income is still below SGA threshold, then your Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) make your work not SGA. However in practice I have not seen judges adopt this very often.
  • If you are working at an SGA level, but the work is not competitive: you either got a job through a friend or family member and you not held to the same standards as another worker in the same position, or if you are being paid a “subsidy" — the value of your work is $500 a week, but you are being paid $700 a week. The word that is focused on the most here is accommodations. When we talk about accommodations we are talking about such things as does your employer allow you to: take additional breaks, call out 2 or more times a month consistently, not make you lift what is required of other employees in the same role and so forth.

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