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Frequently Asked Questions

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The term “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) is used to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both.

“Gainful” work activity is:

  • Work performed for pay or profit.
  • Work of a nature generally performed for pay or profit.
  • Work intended for profit, whether or not a profit is realized.

We use SGA as one of the factors to decide if you are eligible for disability benefits. If you earn more than a certain amount and are doing productive work, we generally consider that you are engaging in SGA.
For more information on SGA, see The Red Book.

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