Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Attorneys Representing Massachusetts Social Security Disability Claimants

The Massachusetts Social Security Disability lawyers of Kantrovitz & Associates have over 25 years of experience helping workers prove a compensable medical condition. The largest obstacle to relief in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) context is often demonstrating disability in relation to the concept of “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). We help claimants navigate this difficult issue, and recover substantial awards for workers throughout the Boston area, as well as across Essex, Plymouth, Norfolk, and Middlesex Counties, and other communities throughout the Commonwealth. We also help to maximize payments for disabled claimants throughout Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Eligibility Based on SGA

In order to receive disability benefits, an applicant must be unable to engage in SGA. The Social Security Administration defines SGA in Section 603 of the Social Security Act. SGA describes varying levels of work activity and earnings. The Administration releases “adjusted” SGA amounts to reflect changes in the maximum earning rates per month. In general, SGA includes:

  • “Gainful” work performed for payment or profit
    • Work “generally performed” for pay or profit
    • Work “intended” for profit, whether gained or not
  • “Substantial” work involving physical or mental activity
    • Does not require full-time basis; part-time work qualifies
    • Definition of SGA differs for disability based on blindness

The Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) further explains SGA. Under 65 C.F.R. § 416.971, except for “statutory blindness,” any work performed during an alleged period of disability supports a finding that the claimant can engage in SGA. Work may still be considered “SGA” if medical or vocational evidence shows ability to “do more” than work actually performed.

SGA Measured in Earnings

The Administration releases a new earnings index each year to determine eligibility for benefits. The blind, for example, are unable to engage in SGA if they earn $1,800 per month in 2014. For other disabilities, $1,070 per month indicates eligibility. The SGA amount changes to reflect the national average wage index and is measured by the applicant’s net disability-related work expenses. The amount depends upon the nature of the disability. For example, federal regulations require higher SGA earnings for statutorily blind persons and a lower amount for other disabilities. Those who earn more than the monthly rate are able to engage in SGA.

Trial Work Period

Once claimants are eligible for benefits, they may return to work in what is known as a “trial work period.” During this time, beneficiaries may still collect benefits while earning money. The SGA amount used to decide whether the month is a trial work period is $770 per month. Trial work periods are provided as an incentive to encourage re-entry into the work force.

Helping You Prove Disability

If you are applying for disability based on the inability to engage in SGA, the Massachusetts disability attorneys of Kantrovitz & Associates can help. For over 25 years, we have proven entitlement to benefits based on work that does not meet the level of “substantial” or “gainful” activity. Because the SGA amount is constantly changing and depends upon the disability claimed, legal representation is highly beneficial in seeking maximum compensation under the law. Let us help you recover the benefits you deserve. Call (800) 367-0871 today for a free consultation or contact us online.