Primary responsibility for development of a claimant's work activity and the decision
as to whether such activity during a given period of work is at an SGA level lies
with the field office (FO). However, when a determination as to disability cannot
be reached on the basis of work activity alone, the Disability Determination Services
(DDS) is responsible for resolution of the remaining medical-vocational issues related
to the question of ability to work and will receive cases in which an SGA decision
has been made by the FO regarding periods of work but no determination as to disability
has been made. Since the work a claimant has done or is doing (whether at an SGA level
or not) is a significant part of the claimant's total background, it is useful for
DDS examiners to be familiar with the concepts involved.
DDS responsibilities concerning SGA questions include:
being alert to evidence of work activity not previously developed by the FO, but which
would be pertinent to the disability decision;
determining if a period of work was an unsuccessful work attempt (see DI 11010.145);
determining if the skills and abilities involved in SGA performed by a Title II statutorily
blind claimant age 55 or over are comparable with those required by the person's previous
being alert to the possible effect of periods of work on the date of onset of disability.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the DDS is able to determine without development
or without contacting the FO whether past work was SGA, and can document that determination
with a brief statement in the rationale. In the unusual situation in which, for example,
past work earnings are between the upper and secondary levels and the DDS is faced
with a complex decision regarding comparability or economic worth, or, in the rare
case in which, as another example, an individual alleges that earnings from past work
were subsidized, even though such work occurred during a period for which no disability
is alleged, the FO should be requested to develop and decide the issue. Some intellectual
disability cases are likely to feature subsidized past work earnings.
Performance of SGA 07/01/87 or later, 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).
SGA is not a consideration when statutory blindness is established for a Title XVI
claimant. A statutorily blind Title XVI claimant is eligible for payments even if
engaging in SGA, provided the other requirements for eligibility are met, e.g., income
and resource specifications.