Substantial Gainful Activity: What It Means To Social Security Benefits
If you are suffering from a medical condition that is so bad that you cannot work at your job anymore, you may be able to get some benefits from the government. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) that can help fill the income gap when you can no longer work using monthly payments. You should be warned, however, that the amount you get each month is seldom enough to replace your previous income -- and you may be wondering if you can supplement that benefit by earning some income. You must tread carefully when it comes to earning income while getting SSDI payments, so read on to learn more.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
If you have given your SSA paperwork or the website a cursory glance, you may have noticed the term "substantial gainful activity". SGA is the work you were previously doing in the last job you had, and it refers not only to the income you were earning but to the exact type of work you were doing. When you consider that if you are able to continue doing the same job as before then you must not need benefits, you can understand why the SSA places limits on your income and what you did to earn it.
Working and Earning Income
That is not to say that you cannot earn any income and still get your monthly benefits, but just that you need to be very careful about how much you earn and how. Consider this scenario: you used to be a truck driver, but you have a back condition that makes it too painful to continue doing your job. If you qualify for SSDI based on that type of SGA, you cannot then get another job driving trucks, even if the income you earn falls below the limits. You can, however, seek a different type of employment, such as a as computer operator. You must still take care not to allow your income to rise above the limit, to report your work actions to the SSA and to report any income earned from your job. You should be cautioned that working and earning money "under the table" is against the rules and is considered Social Security fraud.
If you have been informed that you are on track to lose your Social Security benefits because of violating the income or SGA rules, speak to a Social Security disability attorney at once. If you have been turned down for benefits, get help with your appeal to get the benefits you need and deserve.