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“Substantial Gainful Activity” And Disability

Disability and gainful activityDisability and gainful activity

To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). This standard involves two separate elements: work that is substantial, and work that is gainful. Like most legal issues, these elements can get technical quickly without the advice of an experienced Michigan disability lawyer.

“Substantial” Requirement

Substantial generally means significant in this context. Accordingly, efforts that are made in the work place to accommodate a disabled person may prevent the activity from being considered “substantial.” For example, activity may be considered not to be substantial when:

  • You can perform “ordinary or simple tasks satisfactorily” but only because you receive “more supervision or assistance than is usually given other people doing similar work.”
  • You perform work of a kind involving “minimal duties that make little or no demands” on you and that work is of “little or no use” to your employer or self-employment situation.

As you can see from the terms used to evaluate the “substantial” element, the concept is pretty abstract. A Michigan disability lawyer can help you understand how those terms apply to your situation.

“Gainful” Requirement

Gainful activity is broadly defined as “the kind of work usually done for pay or profit, whether or not a profit is realized.” In practice, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks only at the earnings of an employee in deciding whether their work is gainful. The determination is more complicated if you are self-employed, because:

  • Many self-employed people—whether disabled or not—sometimes work at a loss
  • Some self-employed people have a degree of control over when they receive income, and how much they receive

As a result, the SSA examines the specific type and economic value that your work has to the business if you are self-employed. An experienced Michigan disability lawyer can be invaluable in protecting your rights on this very subjective issue.

Earnings Threshold for SGA

A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. For 2012, the monthly SGA amount is $1690 for the blind, $1010 for others. In determining SGA earnings, your actual earnings are reduced by the amount of any “impairment-related work expenses.”

Get the Help You Need

If you have questions about your claim, call Michigan disability lawyer JB Bieske at (800) 331-3530.

J.B. Bieske & Jennifer Alfonsi, Attorneys at Law

19991 Hall Road, Suite 202
Macomb, MI 48044
Phone: 586-977-8100
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