Helping People With Disabilities Nationwide

One issue that some claimants have trouble understanding is how much they can earn and still be eligible for disability benefits.

Under Social Security’s rules, you have to earn less than what SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) to receive disability payments.

SGA increase every year. In 2022, it’s $1,350 per month for nonblind individuals and $2,260 for statutorily blind claimants.

While there are some other rules that can come into play depending on exactly how many hours you work and whether you’re self-employed, the rule for most people is that they have to stay under these amounts to be found disabled.

This is understandably frustrating for many claimants as particularly the nonblind SGA amount is just not enough to live on in most areas. It can be a long wait for a hearing, and many people feel they need to do some sort of work to support themselves.

I’ve had several claimants ask me why Social Security doesn’t take into account their medical issues when calculating SGA.

Unfortunately, disability uses a five step process to determine eligibility, and the very first step is to look at SGA. If a claimant is making above that amount. SSA doesn’t even get to the second step to begin analyzing mental or physical impairments.

There are, of course, other things to consider with SGA as well. If you return to work above SGA for six months or less, this is generally considered an unsuccessful work attempt and does not impact disability eligibility, so it’s always best to discuss your exact situation with a disability attorney to see how it could affect your case.



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