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What is "substantial gainful activity" for an SSD benefits claim?

Before an individual can successfully claim Social Security disability benefits, he or she must prove they meet the requirements laid out by the Social Security Administration. Depending on the injury or illness that has left an individual disabled, differing requirements may apply. However, there are certain requirements that apply to all SSD benefits claims.

Perhaps the most important element is that an SSD benefits claimant must be unable to engage in substantially gainful activity. There are two parts of this requirement. First, "gainful" refers to work that is done for profit or pay. If the amount earned is below a certain amount, though, then it may be deemed insubstantial and the individual may still be eligible for benefits. On the other hand, if an individual earns over a certain amount, he or she may automatically be categorized as being engaged in substantially gainful employment.

The second aspect of this element is substantiality. Here, the SSA will look to see if the claimant's work is significantly physical or mental in nature. An administrative law judge will analyze the claimant's amount of time working, his or her performance, any special conditions that may apply in the place of employment, and the likelihood that the individual could be self-employed. In order for employment to be classified as "substantial," an individual must not only be working, but capable of holding that employment for a long period of time.

These are just two of the many elements that can affect an individual's disability benefits claim. Those who need compensation to help cover the losses caused by their disability may want to seek out legal assistance so that they can put forth the strongest claim possible under the given circumstances.

Source: U.S. Courts, "Social Security Outline," accessed on Sep. 13, 2016

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