What Is “Substantial Gainful Activity”?
The first step of the Sequential Evaluation Process refers to “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). An Augusta, Georgia Social Security attorney can tell you whether you are currently engaging in SGA. In general, the term indicates work that involves “significant physical or mental activities.” Work that you are unable to perform “without more supervision or assistance than is usually given other people doing similar work” might not be considered substantial. Similarly, work that involves minimal duties of little to no use to your employer may also not count as substantial.
“Gainful” activity is defined broadly as work “usually done for pay or profit, whether or not a profit is realized.” If you are employed by someone else, this is usually determined by looking at your total earnings. If you are self-employed, the SSA will look at the work you do and how valuable it is to the business. The SSA does not want to create a loophole where self-employed workers can work at a loss or do marginal work for relatives and claim that the work is not gainful at all.
When calculating your income, the SSA allows for deductions of certain impairment-related work expenses, such as payments for medication and medical treatment, or payments for vehicle modification and attendant care services. Your Augusta, Georgia Social Security attorney should review your finances carefully when examining your income level, because some expenses that seem like they would be impairment-related, such as health insurance payments, are not deductible—while others that don’t seem related to your impairment, such as payment for certain treatment, are deductible.
To determine if you are working at the SGA level, the SSA averages your income according to the nature of your work, how long you have worked, and whether the SGA level has been modified during your employment period. The SGA level has become more generous each year due to cost-of-living increases starting in 2001. Twenty years ago, the level was $300 per month, but now it is more than $1,000 per month.