How Subsidies can Help you Earn more while Applying for Disability


Social Security’s definition of disability is “ . . . the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” (20 C.F.R. §404.1505). Substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) essentially means full time work, which is usually defined as earning $1,070 per month, gross (or $1,800 if you are blind).
So what does this mean in layman’s terms? Essentially, if you are unable to gross more than $1,070 per month, you are disabled. Therefore, if you are working while applying for disability, you are generally not able to earn more than this amount, or you will be denied. So why do I keep using qualifying words such as “generally” and “usually?” Because there are many nuances and exceptions to this rule.
One such exception is Social Security’s Subsidy and Special Conditions allowances. Work is considered subsidized “. . . if the true value of your work, when compared with the same or similar work done by unimpaired persons, is less than the actual amount of earnings paid to you for your work.” (20 C.F.R. §404.1574). Examples of these sorts of subsidies and conditions include on the job coaches, doing work under continuous supervision, working in a sheltered or special environment, or even being paid full wages, despite doing less work than co-workers. If any of these conditions or subsidies exist, Social Security will attempt to determine the value the work a claimant performs contacting the claimant, and/or the claimant’s employer, supervisor(s), co-workers, job-coach, or anyone else who may have knowledge regarding the claimant’s work activity. If they find that the claimant’s work is subsidized, even if technically over SGA, that claimant may still be found disabled.
SGA, in general, is a complicate topic with many rules and exceptions. This is why it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to help explain all the ins and outs of how much you can work if you are applying for disability.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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