Sustantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

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

Year

Non-Blind

Blind

1975

$200

$200

1976

230

230

1977

240

240

1978

260

333

1979

280

375

1980

300

417

1981

300

458

1982

300

500

1983

300

550

1984

300

580

1985

300

610

1986

300

650

1987

300

680

1988

300

700

1989

300

740

1990

$500

$780

1991

500

810

1992

500

850

1993

500

880

1994

500

930

1995

500

940

1996

500

960

1997

500

1,000

1998

500

1,050

1999

*700

1,110

2000

700

1,170

2001

740

1,240

2002

780

1,300

2003

800

1,330

2004

810

1,350

2005

$830

$1,380

2006

860

1,450

2007

900

1,500

2008

940

1,570

2009

980

1,640

2010 1,000 1,640
2011 1,000 1,640
     

*$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.



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