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How is work activity assessed for SSD benefits?

When a New Jersey resident has a medical issue that prevents him or her from working a regular job, there are certain requirements that must be met before getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits. A key factor is whether the claimant can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). The Social Security Administration will examine certain aspects of the work before a decision is made.

If the person must use his or her experience, skills, provide supervision, take responsibility or contribute in a substantial way to the business as it is operated, this can be viewed as working at SGA level. The ability to perform will be considered.

SGA might hinge on how well the person does his or her work. If it is done in a satisfactory manner, this might be evidence that the worker is performing at SGA level. If the person is unable to do the work satisfactorily and they are simple, ordinary tasks that the impairments prevent them from performing, then this could be sufficient to say the person is not working at SGA level. If the job itself does not require SGA level performance, then the person will not be perceived as working at SGA level even if he or she technically "works."

For some, the work is done under special conditions. These will take the impairment into account. If the person can do this work, it does not mean that there will be a finding of reaching SGA. Special conditions can include: the person needing and getting special assistance from fellow employees to do the work; the person being granted the ability to work irregular hours and take frequent rest breaks; the worker being provided with special equipment to address the impairment; if the worker can work in circumstances that are specially arranged; if the worker can work with a reduced standard of productivity and efficiency when compared to other workers; or if the worker is given the chance to work with the impairment because of extenuating circumstances such as a relationship with the employer. If a worker is self-employed, being able to perform the necessary functions to run the business could be viewed as reaching SGA level.

Whether the person reaches SGA level functionality or not is a key factor in any case seeking SSD benefits as the inability to do so is often sufficient to show the person has an inability to work and warrants an approval. Understanding work activity is critical for a case. A law firm that specializes in Social Security disability can help a person who is disabled get their benefits.

Source:, "404.1573. General information about work activity," accessed on April 10, 2018

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