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What Is Substantial Gainful Activity for Disability Benefits?

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What Is Substantial Gainful Activity for Disability Benefits?

What Is Substantial Gainful Activity for Disability Benefits?

The disability benefits application process is extensive and often tedious as a result. Part of this process involves an evaluation of substantial gainful activity. Not everyone knows what the Social Security Administration (SSA) means by this, but this could determine your eligibility for benefits. Ask a Wilmington disability lawyer for help if you have any questions.


The SSA uses substantial gainful activity as a measure of work a person can still perform despite their disability. What the SSA wants to know is how much the disability hinders a person’s ability to work a current, past, or new job. If the What Is Substantial Gainful Activity for Disability Benefits?person can continue earning enough income, even with the limitations of their disability, then the SSA will not see the need to offer disability benefits.

In other words, substantial gainful activity looks at income levels. If a person’s income level is above a certain amount, then that person could be denied disability benefits. This holds true regardless of whether the person has started receiving disability benefits or not. A person can have disability benefits taken away if their income increases above a certain level.

This ties into how the SSA defines a disability. For someone to qualify and continue receiving disability benefits, the person must be physically or mentally disabled. The limitations of the disability must hinder work performance or prevent someone from working at all.

The effects of not being able to work in the same manner as before the disability must be severe enough to impact income. Only those who suffer enough income loss to struggle to meet their basic needs are considered for disability benefits. This is because disability benefits are designed to replace lost income to help people with disabilities afford basic life necessities.


You might be wondering how the SSA evaluates substantial gainful activity. They not only look at your income level, but they also consider whether you can perform other work. The evaluation of substantial gainful activity involves assessing whether you can adapt to your current job, a past job, or by finding a new job in a different field.

An unsuccessful work attempt is defined as being forced to go below a certain level of substantial gainful activity at your job. This must be due to the impairments caused by the disability. There must also be:

  • A break from continuity in your work
  • You worked six months or less

Working longer than six months cannot be counted as an unsuccessful work attempt. If you have any questions or concerns, try contacting a Wilmington disability lawyer for advice. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate through how substantial gainful activity works.


Finding out the disability benefits application you spent so much time on was denied can be frustrating. Feel free to ask a Delaware disability attorney about what to do if your disability benefits were denied. Call Edelstein Martin & Nelson at (302) 295-5050 for a free consultation today. Our team of lawyers might be able to increase your chances of receiving disability benefits.

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