One key issue your Los Angeles disability attorney will probably need to address while working to obtain disability benefits for you is whether you have the ability to complete “substantial gainful activity.” Substantial gainful activity is significant physical or mental activity that involves a kind of work usually done for pay or profit.

The Social Security Administration’s definition of substantial gainful activity states that whether a profit is actually realized from the activity in a particular case is not relevant to the inquiry; however, if you work for someone else, the most important factor in analyzing whether your work is “gainful” is usually your earnings. If you are self-employed, the Social Security Administration closely evaluates your work activity and your contributions to the business. This is so because the Social Security Administration is concerned that those who claim to be self-employed and operating at a loss may be disguising profits.

The Social Security Administration determines a claimant’s income by considering several aspects of his or her activity. Specifically, it considers the nature of the work, the period of time worked, and whether the SGA level changed during the time the claimant worked. Using the above factors, the Social Security Administration arrives at an income level.

Over the past several decades, the amount of income that Social Security considers evidence of substantial gainful activity has increased as cost-of-living expenses have gone up. Throughout the 1980s, the SGA level was $300.00 per month. From 1990 through 1999, it was $500.00. At that time, the SGA level increased to $700.00. By 2010, monthly income establishing SGA rose to $1,000.00. Because the Social Security Administration’s standards rapidly change, you may find it beneficial to consult a Los Angeles disability attorney with knowledge of the latest modifications to the SSA evaluation process.

According to the Social Security Administration, if you are unable “to do ordinary or simple tasks satisfactorily without more supervision or assistance than is usually given other people doing similar work,” your work may not be substantial. Likewise, if you are doing work “that involves minimal duties that make little or no demands” on you and that are of “little or no use” to your employer or to the operation of a self-employed business, it may not be substantial gainful activity.

To learn more about substantial gainful activity and for a free consultation with a Los Angeles disability attorney, please contact Sima Aghai at (888) 954-0064.
What Is Substantial Gainful Activity?
Sima G. Aghai, JD, MBA
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