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How Social Security understands gainful income

When people in California apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they have typically been forced to leave their jobs due to a serious, long-term disability. In order for the Social Security Administration to approve a benefits application, people must have substantial mental or physical limitations that prevent them from engaging in work, known as substantial gainful activity. This term is linked to a specific amount of monthly income, although that number can be reset from time to time. For 2019, the substantial gainful activity amount is $1,220 each month. This marks a $40 increase over the 2018 amount.

Applicants who make more than this limit each month will be denied automatically if they submit an application for disability benefits. These applications are denied right away at the Social Security office rather than being assigned to a disability examiner for further investigation and processing. Some people may be able to keep up some work when they develop their disability. If they later become unable to earn more than this limit, their claim will be moved on for further examination.

According to the Social Security Administration, eligibility for SSD benefits is defined by the inability to earn at least $1,220 each month. In addition, however, claimants must also show that they have significant functional capacity limitations. Medical records and examinations can be important evidence when pursuing a claim. Earnings are reviewed repeatedly while a person receives SSD benefits, a process known as continuing disability review. If they rise above that level, the recipient could lose the eligibility for further benefits.

Applicants for Social Security Disability often face denials early on in the process, even though they may desperately need the income. A disability lawyer may help people to navigate the process from an initial application to a disability hearing before a judge.

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