A person in the military service who is being treated for a severe impairment usually
continues to receive full pay. Therefore, for substantial gainful activity (SGA) purposes,
it is not appropriate to evaluate his or her work activity based on the amount of
pay received. Instead, it is generally necessary to use nonmonetary SGA criteria in
assessing the work activity of a service member receiving treatment at a military
hospital or working in a designated therapy program or on limited duty. That is, the
adjudicator must compare the activity with similar work in the civilian work force
and determine its reasonable worth. See the “NOTE” for evaluating the work activity
of a Title II disability beneficiary if the exemption of work activity provision in
DI 10505.020D. applies.
Severely impaired service members may, for example, be placed on limited duty status
and put to work in a hospital, office, mailroom, laboratory, or the like. The controlling
factor in these cases is an objective evaluation of the work activity itself, and
not the service member's duty status, or whether or not a formal therapy program is
involved. The fact that a therapy program or limited duty status is involved suggests
that special subsidies or conditions may exist (see DI 10505.010). This requires that the adjudicator consider the real value of the work effort within
the military setting and then equate its value to similar work in a nonmilitary setting.
NOTE: Under the exemption of work activity provision described in DI 10505.020D., the activities engaged in by a Title II disability beneficiary in work performed
after he/she has received Title II disability benefits for 24 months, may not be used
as evidence that the individual’s disability has ceased. However, the work activities
engaged in by the beneficiary may be used as evidence when determining if disability
has ceased if they show that the beneficiary is not engaged in SGA. Therefore, if
application of the evaluation criteria in this subsection A. establishes that the
work is not SGA, determine that the work does not show that the beneficiary is able
to engage in SGA in a case in which the exemption of work activity provision applies.
Otherwise, determine the beneficiary’s countable earnings and then apply the guides
in DI 10505.020A. or in DI 10505.020B. to determine if the beneficiary is engaged in SGA for disability cessation purposes.
Work performed in a therapy program or while on limited duty by a service member receiving
treatment for a severe impairment generally suggests that the work is performed under
special conditions, therefore pay special attention to considering only that part
of the beneficiary’s earnings which are directly related to his or her own productivity
when determining countable earnings. Compare the services performed in a military
setting with like services performed in the civilian work force to determine the value
of the actual services performed by the beneficiary for purposes of determining countable
earnings before applying the SGA earnings guidelines.