Social Security Disability Analysis Step 1: Are You Gainfully Employed?

Attorney D. Scott Gordon > Frequently Asked Questions > Social Security Disability > Social Security Disability Analysis Step 1: Are You Gainfully Employed?

At step one in its decision process, the SSA must determine whether an applicant for disability benefits is engaging in “substantial gainful activity.” Gainful activity is usually work done for pay or profit. Technically, you still can qualify for social security disability if you are limited to part-time work. Practically, however, Judges may refer to part-time work as evidence of your work ability. The SSA periodically adjusts its threshold for the amount of earnings that it considers to represent “gainful employment.” For 2020, SSA has raised this monthly limit to $1,260 per month. (These rules differ for cases involving blindness.) If you earn in excess of this amount, SSA considers you to be gainfully employed and you are not “disabled” by their definition, regardless of your impairments, age or education. If you are unemployed or full under this threshold, then SSA will progress to Step 2 in its evaluation process.