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Surprising Factors That Count Toward SGA When Applying For SSDI In Maryland


There are multiple criteria to qualify for benefits under the federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and one of the most critical focuses on your ability to earn a living. You might think of various ways to calculate this factor, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the concept of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). If your disabling medical condition makes it impossible for you to engage in SGA, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. The measurement of SGA is a dollar value, at $1,470 for non-blind individuals and $2,460 for those who are blind in 2023. Those who earn above these thresholds are disqualified.

However, there can be some confusion about what SGA means as applied to activities that are not measured in terms of income. What you do outside of a job could be imputed to you in ways you did not expect, possibly making you ineligible for SSDI. Discuss your circumstances with a Maryland Social Security disability lawyer for details, and read on for some background.

Surprising Activities That Count Toward SGA: Income from employment is not the only factor SSA looks at to determine whether you are working at SGA. The whole point is to evaluate whether you are able to engage in competitive employment, so there are some activities that will count. As a general rule, if someone would pay you or give something of value for the activities, that amount applies toward your SGA. Examples include:

  • Criminal activity;
  • Volunteer work;
  • Certain housekeeping and home maintenance tasks;
  • Providing care to a disabled or elderly person; and,
  • Filing for unemployment, which is essentially your own admission that you are able to work but do not currently have a job.

Note that there are some non-work activities that would not be considered by SSA even if they do have a dollar value. You will not be disqualified for SSDI on account of interest, investments, gifts, or  inheritance.

 Factors That Favor Your SGA: Taking a look at the opposite point of view, there are some SSA rules on eligibility that give you an advantage for eligibility purposes. In some cases, the applicant may earn MORE than the SGA threshold amount, which would immediately disqualify the person – at least on the surface. However, your earnings may not reflect the fact that you were performing at a level below SGA, which would mean you are eligible for SSDI.

For instance, your earnings would normally be lower – and less than $1,470 – under the following circumstances:

  • Other employees help you complete job-related tasks at work;
  • Your performance requirements are set below other employees, so you do not need to make the same quotas; or,
  • You require transportation to and from work.

Learn More About SGA by Consulting with a Maryland SSDI Attorney

SGA is an important eligibility factor for Social Security disability, but there are many other notable requirements. To learn more about qualifying for SSDI, please contact the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC. We can set up a no-cost case evaluation to assess your circumstances and explain key laws.

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