Common Social Security Disability Questions: What does Substantial Gainful Activity Mean?

When you apply for Social Security disability, the Social Security Disability Determination Services is going to assess whether your limitations are severe enough to prevent you from finding Substantial Gainful Activity (often called SGA). A person is performing substantial gainful activity, under Social Security’s definition, if they are earning more than a certain monthly amount of money from their employment. For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA for the upcoming year of 2015 is $1,090. For individuals who are blind, the monthly amount to qualify as engaging in SGA is $1,820. These numbers are subject to change yearly based on the national average wage index.

After a person becomes eligible for disability benefits, the person can attempt to return to the work force, while still receiving benefits. This is called a “trial work period.” The Social Security office gives you the opportunity to attempt to work and make more money than the minimum SGA. In return, you are not disqualified from your monthly Social Security benefits until it is clear that you are able to earn more than the SGA minimum. This is a great tool for people that have limitations that have improved and think they may be able to work again.