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What is a Substantial Gainful Activity?

time outThe first step an Administrative Law Judge takes in determining whether a Northern Kentucky or Ohio filer should get social security disability is determining whether that person has engaged in a substantial gainful activity. Substantial gainful activity is defined as “the performance of significant physical or mental activities in work for pay or profit, or in work of a type generally performed for pay or profit.” Work can be considered substantially gainful regardless of whether a profit is realized, so long as the activity is the kind that is normally done for pay. So, for example, if you began a restaurant in the Greater Cincinnati area that did not do well, and ultimately closed without a profit, that activity would be considered substantially gainful.

No Disability While Engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity

You cannot file for social security disability if you are engaging in a substantial gainful activity, but you are allowed to file the day after you quit the activity. This is an important consideration for many workers, because they often try to continue working through a disabling condition or injury for fear of losing income and then losing a home, car, etc. If you are faced with a disabling injury or medical condition, the better practice would be to use benefits that may be available from other sources (such as a short term disability policy or workers’ compensation benefits) for income while the social security disability process is pending. For this reason, it is a good idea to file for social security disability soon after the claimant stops working.

A very small amount of substantial gainful activity is permitted by the Social Security Administration. They set a monthly threshold amount that changes from year to year in response to fluctuations in the national average wage index. In 2016, those amounts were $1,030 per month for non-blind individuals and $1,800 per month for blind individuals. These numbers change yearly, however, so please contact Lawrence & Associates’ Northern Kentucky or Greater Cincinnati offices before relying upon them!

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