Skip Navigation HomeAbout BONDFrequently Asked QuestionsReal-life Situationsen español

1.5 How is Substantial Gainful Activity determined?

The term "Substantial Gainful Activity" (or SGA) is used to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is "substantial" if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. For work activity to be substantial, it does not need to be performed on a full-time basis. Work activity performed on a part-time basis may also be substantial gainful activity. "Gainful" work activity is work performed for pay or profit, work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit, or work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

SSA generally uses earnings guidelines to evaluate whether your work activity is SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the natures of a person's disability. If your impairment is anything other than blindness, countable earnings averaging more than $1,180 a month (for 2018) generally demonstrates SGA. If you are blind, countable earnings averaging more than $1,970 a month (for 2018) generally demonstrates SGA for Social Security Disability Insurance.

SGA determination is based on "countable earnings," which is defined as the gross earnings minus any adjustments, for example: