TN 11 (01-07)

DI 10501.001 Meaning of SGA and Scope of Subchapter

This subchapter introduces the issue of work performed during a period of alleged inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). It concerns work performed by a claimant filing for benefits, or by an individual already entitled to benefits. “Substantial gainful activity” means the performance of significant physical and/or mental activities in work for pay or profit, or in work of a type generally performed for pay or profit, regardless of the legality of the work. “Significant activities” are useful in the accomplishment of a job or the operation of a business, and have economic value. Work may be substantial even if it is performed on a part-time basis, or even if the individual does less, is paid less, or has less responsibility than in previous work. Work activity is gainful if it is the kind of work usually done for pay, whether in cash or in kind, or for profit, whether or not a profit is realized. Activities involving self-care, household tasks, unpaid training, hobbies, therapy, school attendance, clubs, social programs, etc., are not generally considered to be SGA.

This subchapter points out the relative accuracy of earnings guides in different areas of employment. It discusses the cautions which must be observed in evaluating work where sheltered conditions, family employment, and various other special circumstances may indicate that the value of the services performed by the individual is more or less than the amount of wages being paid. The subchapter also indicates the additional considerations that may be applied in the case of a self-employed individual because of the less direct relationship that exists between the individual's activities and income than exists in the case of an employee.

The principles and procedures in this subchapter regarding SGA apply to initial and continuing disability determinations for title II, and to initial determinations for nonblind persons under title XVI. The SGA tests were never applicable to blind persons under title XVI. For work activity performed after 07/01/87 the tests are no longer applicable to post eligibility title XVI nonblind work determinations. Performance of SGA is not a basis for finding that disability ended in title XVI claims (once the requirements for initial eligibility, including any applicable duration requirement, have been met).

The development and evaluation guides in this subchapter also apply to work activity performed in any foreign country. However, in order to apply the SGA Earnings Guidelines in DI 10501.015, foreign currency must be converted to U.S. dollars. (See DI 10505.025D.)


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DI 10501.001 - Meaning of SGA and Scope of Subchapter - 01/05/2007
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:01/05/2007