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What does the SSA consider substantial gainful activity?

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2022 | SSDI

Adults who develop debilitating medical conditions or who have injuries that prevent them from working may require disability support. While some people have private long-term disability insurance, many working professionals only have the protection of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if they become unable to work due to medical issues.

Applying for SSDI means showing that you have a long-lasting medical condition that is truly debilitating and that you are unable to provide for yourself or live independently because of your medical needs or symptoms. You typically also have to show that you don’t have alternate forms of income that allow you to support yourself.

If you reach a point where you have enough income to pay your bills or your condition improved so that you can engage in substantial gainful activity, your SSDI benefits may end. What does the Social Security Administration (SSA) consider to be substantial gainful activity?

Even part-time employment could be too much

Any kind of paid work could lead to the end of your benefits if you earn too much. Workers who have lost their vision have is slightly more lenient standard than the average SSDI applicant. Those who qualify for SSDI because of visual impairments can potentially earn up to $2,460 per month without triggering the rule that will strip them of benefits.

For adults approved for essentially any other disabling condition, monthly income that exceeds $1,470 would meet the standard of substantial gainful activity. While that is still far too little to actually support yourself, it is just enough to cost you the SSDI benefits that you qualified to receive.

Changing circumstances may require reevaluation

If your condition has improved in recent years or if there is now assistive technology that makes it easier for you to return to work, then you may have to report those changes to the SSA and potentially terminate your benefits.

Anyone capable of working or supporting themselves should do so when possible, even if it means going back to work for a little over a year and then retiring. Those who understand the limitations on what part-time work or a gig opportunity can earn could potentially supplement their SSDI benefits while retaining them. Learning more about the rules that limit SSDI benefits will help those in need of disability support.