Eligibility for Social Security benefits depends upon two things - a medical condition that lasts more than 12 months and an inability to complete work. Understanding what is meant by an inability to work is very important because if the person reviewing the application determines that the applicant is able to engage in substantial gainful activity, he or she will be denied SSD benefits.
The first thing to look at when determining if someone is engaged in substantial gainful activity is his or her income. In 2017, if a San Diego non-blind resident is earning above $1170 or a statutorily blind person is earning more than $1950, they are considered to be gainfully employed. Federal regulations stipulate the amount and often change year by year.
However, substantial gainful activity is more than a number. Substantial refers to completing significant physical or mental activity. It can be significant even if it is part-time and even if the applicant is now getting paid less than what they were getting paid before they became disabled. Gainful refers to getting paid to do something or doing something that others are usually getting paid to do. Taking care of oneself, involvement in social activities and completing chores are usually not considered substantial gainful activities by the SSA.
Familiarity with the federal regulations and requirements can help applicants gather the requisite data and complete an accurate application. It may be beneficial to consult an experienced attorney for guidance when completing an application to ensure no mistakes are made.