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  • Writer's pictureStephanie O. Joy, Esq.

Your Past 'Relevant' Work - The SGA Rule - Mandatory Know! (Part C)

Note: This article/video is for general information only and is not legal advice to any particular reader or individual. For legal advice, you must specifically retain a lawyer who evaluates your specific situation.

As a follow up to Parts A and B of Your Past Relevant Work (PRW) mini series, this section C is all about understanding Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). SGA is a major facet of Social Security Disability at various points in the process both pre- and post- award, so it is critical to know it. So this criterion, is #3 of 3.

To refresh, when you file your Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, the SSA paperwork will be asking about your Work History. It asked about some of it in your application and later, will more specifically in your Work History Report. This is because your burden is to prove, among other facts, that you cannot perform any of your past relevant work (PRW). At Step 4 of the Sequential Process of determining if you may prevail on your SSD or SSI claim, the question is, "Can you do the work you did previously? "

In order for your past work to be 'relevant' to the disability determination on your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income claim it has to meet certain criteria.

The work must have:

  1. been performed within the relevant period (recency);

  2. lasted long enough for your to learn to do it (duration); and

  3. been substantial gainful activity (SGA).

"A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA."

For 2022, SGA for non-blind people is $1350/month. For blind people, the amount is much higher at $2260. SGA adjusts right along with COLA and its adjustment to Social Security Benefits. (For a discussion of COLA in relation to what it is expected to be in 2023, and how it is derived generally, see article and video here.) If your prior work in the relevant period is NOT SGA level work, it cannot be considered PRW that you may be able to engage in now, to the detriment of your claim for disability.

Side note: Although a major subject in its own right, Impairment Related Work Expenses is a subject I wish everyone knew about and tracked in prior real-time, when healthy and not disabled. That decade-plus old documentation may later potentially make your SSD or SSI claim, if you are otherwise to be denied based on some slightly higher than SGA prior work that would act as a damaging PRW .

For consideration for Attorney SSD/SSI representation in an upcoming or pending SSDI/SSI disability claim, please fill out our free Attorney Evaluation form. We do NOT charge a retainer to serve you. If, on the other hand, you only seek an attorney level consultation/analysis of a particular situation, whether you are a company or an individual, or to discuss your own situation without representation, to learn information beyond that information you may obtain for free from the SSA itself, and you do not otherwise have a lawyer representing your before the SSA, you may order a scheduled consultation at affordable attorney rates. Contact the office at 201-317-0610 or email

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