TN 7 (08-07)
DI 10505.023 Military Service
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.
B. Documentation and evaluation
1. Description of military work activities
The service member is the primary source of information about the work activities he or she performs. Documentation will help to resolve the extent of any subsidy in the military service pay and the actual worth of the limited duties.
If, however, the service member's description of duties is equivocal or apparently inaccurate, or if it shows activities not readily correlated to jobs in the civilian community, corroborative information is necessary. Military personnel having supervisory and administrative knowledge of the details and status of the limited work should be contacted. Examples of such personnel could include commanding officers or senior non-commissioned officers (for enlisted personnel).
NOTE: Army personnel carry a "Company Alert Roster" document that specifies their line of command (Squad Leader to Commander)." This roster may be helpful in identifying a contact for development of work activity.
2. Comparison of military and civilian work activities
a. Comparison based on first-hand knowledge
In some situations the service member's description of job duties may offer reasonable assurance that the work activity can be readily identified and compared to a similar type of civilian occupation, such as clerk-typist, truck mechanic, or the like. The adjudicator may be sufficiently aware of prevailing work and pay scales in the community to be able to equate the service member's job duties with those in the nonmilitary economy and to determine the worth of the services performed. In appropriate situations the file should reflect the details of such knowledge, inasmuch as the SGA determination must be made on the basis of what the service member does and how much such activity would be worth in the civilian community.
b. Comparison based on military occupation manuals