What does it mean to be disabled?
You are “disabled” for Social Security and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) purposes if, due to a severe mental or physical condition, you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity for a period of 12 months or more. If your condition is expected to result in death within 12 months, the 12-month duration requirement does not apply to you.
Social Security Disability is not welfare. Throughout your working life, you have had money taken out of your paycheck above and beyond your income taxes. It appears as “FICA” on your pay stubs. Among other things, that money pays your insurance premiums for disability insurance.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides an income to disabled people who have not worked enough years to be covered by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you have not worked at all, if you have worked very little, or if your last job was a long time ago, you might be eligible for SSI. The definition of disability is the same for both SSI and SSDI. However, SSI has the additional requirement of financial need.
What is “substantial gainful activity” (SGA)?
This basically means “work.” However, it means a bit more than that. First, it must be “gainful.” That means that you earn up to $1,180 per month gross from work. The work also must have meaningful physical and/or mental demands. You must be able to do more than show up and collect a paycheck. Your job must be ordinary, competitive employment.