What is “Substantial Gainful Activity?”

A short time ago, we published an article that explained many common obstacles in the Social Security disability claims process. In this and future articles, we’ll explain each of the obstacles in greater detail.

To start, we want to help you answer one of the questions we hear the most: what does the Social Security Administration mean by “substantial gainful activity?”

What “Substantial Gainful Activity” Really Means

One of the first questions you will encounter in the claims process is this: “are you unable to engage in substantial gainful activity?” Since normal people don’t talk like the SSA, you may be wondering what exactly they’re asking you. A simpler translation of this question is, “does your disability prevent you from working?”

Now, the question is “what do they mean by working?”

If you are working in 2016 and your earnings average more than $1,130 per month, you may not be eligible to make a claim.

So, according to the SSA, working means earning more than $1,130 per month for at least 12 months. If you aren’t working or are making less than $1,130 per month, you may be eligible for benefits. If you recently became disabled and can no longer work, you may be eligible as well. You just need to provide medical evidence to prove your case.

One of the most important elements in any disability case is honesty. If the SSA discovers that you are working during a case and earning over $1,130 per month, this can cause problems.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the minimum monthly amount of money they use as a standard changes every year. Here are the amounts from the last 10 years, so you can see the patterns and know what to expect for the future:

2006: $860

2007: $900

2008: $940

2009: $980

2010: $1,000

2011: $1,000

2012: $1,010

2013: $1,040

2014: $1,070

2015: $1,090

2016: $1,130

When you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, do not expect compassion from the SSA. You will have to prove to them in very clear ways that you meet their qualifications. At Summit Disability Law Group, we can help you sort through the paperwork and legal jargon you’ll encounter when applying for disability benefits. Contact us today and we will help you get the benefits you need.

Photo courtesy of Summit Disability.