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Can You Work While Seeking Disability Benefits?

Updated: Sep 30

In short, the answer is yes. But there are qualifications to pursuing work during the disability process. Namely, are you working at a level that reaches SGA - Substantial Gainful Activity?


You’ve probably discovered that the Social Security Administration uses a lot of acronyms for disability terminology. So today, as we start our deep dive into the Social Security Disability process we are explaining SGA: what does it mean, and how can it affect your claim?

In evaluating your claim for Social Security Disability, the SSA will first look at whether or not you are working. Your current work will be evaluated as Substantial Gainful Activity, or NOT Substantial Gainful Activity. SGA is defined as work that brings in over a certain dollar amount per month, and that amount changes every year. (See chart above)

In 2020, that monthly amount is $1260. If you are working, and make that amount or MORE, SSA would automatically presume that you are not disabled, because you are able to engage in work that brings in a competitive amount of money a month. It is important to note that money that comes from non-work sources would not count towards calculating your monthly SGA amount, i.e. gifts, investments, etc.

Let’s break it down further.

Firstly, making under that amount will NOT automatically establish that you are disabled. There are two different general requirements that you need to meet: medical and non-medical. An SGA evaluation is non-medical, and if you are making under that amount, your claim can moved forward and evaluated medically, which means that your medical records will be evaluated by a doctor at the Social Security Administration.

Secondly, making above SGA does not necessarily mean that you aren’t disabled. If you are offered accommodations or special conditions at work, you can still qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits. Accommodations and special conditions might include:

  • Close and continuous supervision

  • On-the-job coaching

  • Substitution during which the job coach performs part or all of the individual’s job duties

  • Being allowed irregular shifts or the ability to take frequent rest breaks

  • Being allowed to work at a lower level of productivity and/or efficiency

Similarly, if you are receiving disability benefits from your employer and that amount exceeds the monthly SGA amount, you can still qualify for disability benefits.


While it is more than likely that your claim will be denied initially, even though you are offered accommodations at work, with the right help, you can make the case for your earnings when you file an appeal.

SGA is just one of the reasons why your work history and work status are important in your Social Security Disability claim. If you'd like to work with some of the most reliable disability attorneys in Cincinnati, please give Kapor Davis & Associates a call. Our consultations are free.



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