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Substantial Gainful Activity

SSDI Lawyers Helping Chicago Residents Seek Benefits

If you hope to receive SSDI, your medical condition or injury must be disabling enough to stop you from doing work. Generally, in order for you to collect SSDI, the disability needs to stop you from doing more than an insignificant amount of work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at your substantial gainful activity in order to figure out whether you are doing too much work to qualify for SSDI. The level of work changes from year to year. If you are making $1220 or more a month (or $2040 per month for a blind person) from working, you are probably doing too much substantial gainful activity to be eligible for SSDI. An experienced Chicago Social Security attorney can help you determine whether you may be eligible for benefits.

Substantial Gainful Activity

It’s important to realize that it is not only a full-time job that counts as substantial gainful activity to the SSA. Activities you might do to keep yourself busy such as starting your own business, volunteering for a charity, or criminal enterprise can be construed as substantial gainful activity, even though you’re not making money. Substantial gainful activity includes significant mental and physical activities, even if you are getting paid less than you used to and even if you are getting paid nothing at all because you are volunteering. The SSA may find what you’re doing to be substantial gainful activity if you’re doing something people usually get paid to do.

What Isn’t Substantial Gainful Activity?

Certain activities are unlikely to be construed as substantial gainful activity. These can include household chores, attending school, socializing, household chores, personal hygiene activities, and going to mental, occupational, or physical therapy. However, involvement in these activities could be used to establish that you are not disabled. If you’re able to do these activities without any sort of restrictions, this could affect whether you are considered to be able to work.

It’s important to be aware that if you are a volunteer, this can also affect the way the SSA determines whether you can work. If your wages for volunteer work would be greater than the substantial gainful activity level if someone paid you do them, that work may show you can work at that level. Similarly, if you spend more than a few hours every week volunteering, it may be assumed that you can volunteer. A dedicated SSDI lawyer can assess whether this sort of activity may disqualify you from receiving benefits.

What if You’re Making Some Income?

A certain portion of your income is excluded when deciding whether the work you do is substantial gainful activity. What’s excluded is the first $20 of income not earned, the first $65 of earned income, plus half what what’s remaining of earned income over $65, the first $30 each quarter of income you get on an irregular basis, and money you save under a plan for achieving self-support.

If you’re self-employed running your own business or doing contract work, the SSA will determine whether that business is substantial gainful activity using one of a few tests. The test used hinges on when you started your business and why your activities are being reviewed.

If you’re applying for SSDI or you’ve been on SSDI for under 24 months, there are three tests that may be used to decide whether what you’re doing is substantial gainful activity. The first is the Significant Services and Income test. Where the test doesn’t show your self-employment is substantial gainful activity, either the worth of work or comparability test will be used. When self-employment counts as substantial gainful activity under the relevant test, you can be denied benefits. Where you’re the only owner or employee of a business you own, your services are immediately found to be significant and if your income from the business is over $1220 every month, you won’t be considered for SSDI benefits.

Consult a Knowledgeable SSDI Attorney in Chicago

If you are concerned about whether the SSA will find that what you’re doing is substantial gainful activity and you want to get or maintain SSDI benefits in Chicago, it is wise to consult a seasoned lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent SSDI and SSI claimants in Rockford, Quincy, Champaign, and Aurora, as well as Winnebago, Adams, Kane, Sangamon, and Cook Counties. Contact us at 312-724-5846 or by completing our online form.