What is Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) according to the Social Security Administration?
By: Lesly Lopez
To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person’s disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals; Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. Both SGA amounts generally change with changes in the national average wage index.
Social Security Definition of Disability:
To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):
- That is expected to result in death, or
- That has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
We use the term “substantial gainful activity” to describe a level of work activity and earnings.
Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be SGA.
“Gainful” work activity is:
- Work performed for pay or profit; or
- Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit; or
- Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.
We use SGA as one of the factors to decide if you are eligible for disability benefits. If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, we use SGA to decide if your eligibility for benefits continues after you return to work and complete your Trial Work Period
- Substantial Gainful Activity(Social Security Administration) https://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/sga.html accessed 12 May 2015
- Social Security Administration. 2015 Red Book: How we define disability? 2015 edition.