Social Security Disability and SGA tests for the self-employed

Missouri residents who have suffered an injury or illness and are unable to work can seek Social Security Disability benefits. However, since the assessment of the applicant’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity is so integral to a case, those who are self-employed might be confused as to where they fit in with the equation and the requirements. There are certain rules that the Social Security Administration will use when evaluating a self-employed person’s work activity. Part of that is tests to see if the person has reached SGA. Knowing these tests is crucial to an application.

The SSA will take into consideration the activities the person does and their value to the business when determining if there was SGA. Income will not be the sole consideration because the amount that the person earns cannot be boiled down to one factor.

If the person was forced to stop work or reduce it below SGA after six months or less due to the impairment, it will be considered an unsuccessful attempt at getting back to work. The work activity will be assessed based on the value of the person’s services to the business independent of whether the person received income.

There are three tests the SSA will use. If the applicant has not achieved SGA after the first test, the SSA will move on to the other two tests. Test one is whether the person has engaged in SGA and provided services that are viewed as significant to the business operation and a substantial income is received because of it.

Test two is if there has been SGA with various factors, such as hours spent, skills applied, energy toward the business used, how efficient the worker was, what duties there were and their responsibilities. This will be compared to those who are unimpaired in the community and work the same or similar business. Test three is if the person has engaged in SGA, is not comparable to those who are unimpaired, but is clearly worth the relevant amount to determine SGA, when it is assessed in the context of value to the business or when it is compared to a salary a person would receive for doing the work.

A person who is self-employed and is facing lost wages and other problems due to an impairment can get SSD benefits. However, it is critical to know how the SSA evaluates SGA for the self-employed. Having legal advice in getting Social Security Disability can be useful when seeking benefits. This is especially important for those who are self-employed and will likely need extra assistance in their case.

Practice Areas

Military Law
Family Law
Social Security Disability
Worker’s Compensation
Personal Injury