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Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)


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To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in what Social Security refers to as "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA).

In determining whether you can do any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), Social Security will consider your age, education, work experience and "residual functional capacity"


An employee who is earning more than a certain monthly amount is ordinarily considered to be engaging in substantial work. Earned amounts are calculated after deduction for impairment-related work expenses (IRWE)

The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person's disability. In 2016, the general threshold is $1,130 per month. There is a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals. In 2016, SGA for blind individuals is $1,820 per month. NOTE: It is possible that you may still be considered to have engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity even if you earned less than these amounts.

Self Employed People

The treshold for people who are self employed is the same dollar amount as for employees. However, if a person earns less than the dollar amount, there may still be Substantial Gainful Activity for Social Security purposes if other criteria are met.

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