Can I Apply for Social Security Disability If I Am Working?

Understanding Social Security Disability and Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Social Security Disability is designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to an injury or illness expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. To qualify for these benefits, applicants must demonstrate that they are unable to perform their prior work or adapt to other forms of employment.

During the application process for Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration evaluates whether the applicant is capable of “substantial gainful activity” or SGA while still working and earning income. SGA refers to significant physical and/or mental activities performed for pay or profit, including part-time work. The income threshold for SGA is $1,470 per month (or $2,460 per month for blind individuals) as of 2023.

When determining whether an applicant’s work qualifies as SGA, the Social Security Administration considers various factors, such as their income earning capacity, the type of work they are engaged in, whether they require assistance or special equipment for tasks, the need for frequent breaks or rest, accommodations provided by a supportive employer, irregular or reduced work hours, and productivity compared to other workers.

It is important to note that individuals can apply for Social Security Disability at any time when they are no longer able to work full-time and expect this condition to persist for at least 12 months. If their employment income falls below the SGA threshold, they may be eligible for benefits.

In some cases, a disability claimant may have a skill or hobby, such as selling items on eBay, which allows them to earn money despite being unable to work a regular job due to their injury or illness. However, engaging in such activities while applying for Social Security Disability can pose challenges in proving their inability to perform SGA. It is advisable to seek advice from an experienced lawyer who can navigate the complexities of SGA, work, and disability to provide the best guidance for your specific situation.