Myth – I can work and still get Social Security disability benefits as long as I do not earn over the SGA limit
This is only partially true. Substantial gainful activity (SGA) is defined as full-time work. The Social Security Administration determines whether a claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity by earnings. The SSA sets an amount for statutorily blind individuals at a higher level than non-blind claimants. In 2013, the amount a statutorily blind claimant can earn without being automatically disqualified for disability benefits is $1,740. A non-blind applicant can earn up to $1,040 per month in 2013 without being automatically disqualified from claiming disability benefits.
Some people believe they can work and seek disability benefits as long as they do not earn over this SGA level. This is a partial truth that could lead to a finding of not disabled by the SSA. The earning level amounts listed above are only automatic disqualifiers. If you are working, the regulations provide that even if you earn less than the SGA amount each month, the SSA can determine that you are capable of earning more based on the current work you are performing and still find you not disabled. A finding of disability is determined by your residual functional capacity. The Social Security Administration gets to determine your residual funcational capacity.