Substantial gainful activity is the term used by Social Security to determine if you can work and earn a substantial living even though you are disabled. It is important when you file for disability and after you have used your 9-month trial work period. If Social Security decides after you have used your trial work period that you are doing substantial gainful work, they would suspend your Social Security disability checks.
If you work as an employee, use the dollar amounts in the chart below. If you work as a self-employed individual, see the additional criteria below the chart.
Blind individuals have a different dollar amount than non-blind individuals.
Dollar Limits for Non-blind and Blind Employees
|Monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) amounts
for blind and non-blind disabled employees
*$500 amount applied in the first half of 1999
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) for the Self-Employee
There are three tests to evaluate SGA for a self-employed individual
To determine if the work performed by a self-employed individual is substantial Social Security applies three tests. Your work is substantial if you meet the criteria of either test one, two or three. The following are brief descriptions of each test.
Test One: Significant Services and Substantial Income
Your work activity is substantial if you perform services that are significant to the operation of your business, and if you receive a substantial income (see chart above); or
Test Two: Comparability of Work Activity
Your work activity is substantial if, in terms of all relevant factors such as hours, skills, energy output, efficiency, duties, and responsibilities, it is comparable to work of non-disabled individuals in the same community doing the same or similar business as their means of livelihood; or
Test Three: Worth of Work Activity
Your work activity is substantial if, although not comparable to that of non-disabled individuals, it is clearly worth more than the amount shown in the chart above when considered in terms of its effect on the business, or when compared to the salary an owner would pay to an employee for such duties in the same business.