If you’re thinking about applying for Social Security Disability, you need to be able to show that your condition prevents you from engaging in SGA, or substantial gainful activity. In a nutshell, that phrase means that your disability is keeping you from making a living through work.
Normally, if someone is employed and able to receive a sustaining income, despite their disability, this is the end of the matter. You’re just not going to get disability benefits while earning money. However, according to the SSA’s own rules, things are a bit different where self-employment is concerned.
How is Self-Employment Different than Regular Employment?
People who work for someone else have certain expectations, including working fairly regular hours and earning a more or less consistent wage. Obviously, this isn’t completely true for every job, but in a generous sense you know that the money you make is going to depend on the number of hours you put in.
Self-employed individuals don’t have that same guarantee. Some work crazy hours and make next to nothing, while others might be able to do practically nothing and still pull in a healthy income. Because of this, the SSA says that a number of factors have to be considered when deciding whether self-employed people are engaging in substantial gainful activity, including:
- Market conditions.
- Capital investments.
- Others’ services.
- Profit distribution.
For example, what if you provide start-up money to a business in exchange for future profits and it does really well for a time, earning you money? Does this qualify as SGA, despite the fact that you weren’t really “working”?
In order to rule on a claim where self-employment is involved, an ALJ has to take these kinds of factors and situations into consideration. It’s not enough for them to simply say that you engaged in substantial gainful activity because there was money coming in, so make sure that your lawyer is on top of this situation and appeals any decision where the judge ignores necessary information.