Say you draw disability benefits and what you earn is a bit more than what the Social Security Administration’s limit to still qualify for disability benefits.
To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA
If you trying to hide your earnings by being underpaid, SSA will look at the fair market value of the activity. The SSA can even consider volunteer work or criminal activities as SGA if the activity perform would typically receive compensation in excess of the monthly SGA amount. This goes both ways however. If someone, such as a mentally challenged person bagging groceries is overly compensated, then this type of subsidized employment will not be included.
Stated plainly, the SSA will first consider the actual dollar amount paid and will then consider all the facts to see if someone's work was actually worth more or less than the SGA amount.
If you worked for six months or less and then you worked less as a result of your medical issues, then the money earned during that time is excluded from an SGA evaluation. There are a number of programs designed to motivate people to try going back to work. These programs include the Plan to Achieve Self Support, (PASS) and the ticket to work program.
The amount of your work will be looked at by the judge. The judge will look at your dollars earned, hours spent, and the physical or mental demands of your job. For example, even though you might be working less than full time making less than SGA, if it is a job on a landscaping crew where you lift up to 100 pounds all day, the judge might wonder if you could work a few more hours doing a job that is more light duty. Another example might be if you are making very close to the maximum amount). The judge will most likely think "are they physically unable to earn that last dollar or are they gaming the system"?
In the case of self-employment, SSA will look at the fair market value of your self-employment activities. Your business activity will be considered SGA if you:
- Engage in activities that is similar to the work that other people (without disabilities) perform in your community or similar businesses, or
- 1,220 per month in 2019 (or $2,040 if you're blind)
We can help
If you are unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you need help and are looking for an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer in Virginia who can assist you in navigating the sometimes very complex process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, then call Kalfus-Nachman. We will assist you in your initial claim and at the reconsideration level, and we will also represent you at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge if this becomes necessary. In addition, there is no charge for your first visit, and there also is no attorney fee unless your claim is allowed by the Social Security Administration for Social Security Disability benefits.