The rise of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have been a boon for many people seeking disability benefits.
Claimants suffering from chronic conditions who can’t hold down a steady job often find that they can work a few hours each week to get a little bit of income for badly needed necessities they would otherwise go without.
But the popularity of these jobs has also complicated disability cases.
First, let’s do away with a common misconception: you’re allowed to work while seeking disability benefits, however, your earnings must not rise to the levels of what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) to qualify for disability benefits.
SGA is determined with one of three tests. The first test, significant services and income, is pretty straightforward. If you are making more than $1,220 per month, it’s considered SGA, and you do not qualify for disability benefits.
The second test is called the comparability test. With this test, Social Security considers whether the amount of time and skill required for the job is similar to that of an unimpaired individual performing the job.
With the final test, the countable income test, Social Security calculates your gross income minus business expenses to determine whether your work is SGA. This is similar to the significant services and income test with a little more leeway.
From my experience in disability hearings, most judges consider ridesharing under the significant services and income test.
Few claimants seeking disability benefits earn close to SGA under that test, but driving Uber or Lyft then poses other challenges for a case.
Many judges will heavily question why you can’t drive full-time if you are earning extra income as a driver. And particularly for younger individuals, judges will use such employment as evidence that they are capable of full-time work, so if you are driving and seeking disability benefits, be prepared to discuss it at your hearing.