Palm Springs disability attorneys provide information for Social Security claimants who are still working

As Palm Springs disability attorneys, we have assisted some people who are still employed with their claims for Social Security benefits. Depending on your situation, even if you are currently working, you may still be “disabled” under the Social Security guidelines and rules. In assessing whether you meet the criteria for Social Security benefits, your Palm Springs disability attorney needs to consider a range of facts. These facts include the sort of employment you have, how much money you receive for your work, whether you receive any subsidy, and how much you must spend for your impairment-related work expenses.

Evaluating the kind of work you do

A person presently working and performing “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) will not qualify as disabled for purposes of Social Security benefits. Therefore, regardless of how impaired you might be, disability benefits are not available if the work that you do is both:

  • “Substantial” – This means that your job involves doing significant physical or mental activity. Your job may not be substantial (1) if you need more direction or help than other people usually need to properly perform a commonplace or easy task; or (2) if you perform negligible duties that make few if any demands on you and that are of little or no benefit to your employer.


  • “Gainful” – This means that your work is the sort of work typically done to earn a paycheck or to make a profit. If you are an employee, the Social Security Administration will look at your earnings to determine whether or not your work is “gainful.”

In some situations, your ability to perform work that is substantial may prevent you from receiving social security benefits, even though the work is not gainful. For instance, to be found disabled, you may have to prove that you are unable to perform sedentary work full time. But if you are working part-time at a heavy job, even though your earnings are below the SGA level, your part-time heavy work is inconsistent with a claim of disability. After all, if you are able to do part-time heavy work, the Social Security Administration will not believe that you lack the capacity to do full-time sedentary work.

Earning below the level of “Substantial Gainful Activity”

As Palm Springs disability lawyers here at Medlegal Disability, we can help Social Security claimants who perform some work determine whether they earn less than the SGA level. For an employed claimant, we first need to determine how much gross earnings (not net earnings) the claimant receives from work. Then that number is adjusted by applying appropriate deductions and averaging income. Then the adjusted countable earnings from work must be compared with the SGA earnings guidelines, which are contained in the Social Security regulations. The earnings guidelines are adjusted every year. To find the current amount, check the Social Security Administration’s website,

Deductions and inclusions

In doing these calculations, any bonuses you might have received from work are included. But sick pay and vacation pay are deducted from gross earnings. That is because the Social Security Administration is concerned with how much you earn from the work that you actually perform.

Also deducted from your monthly earnings are certain medical expenses necessitated by your impairment. Expenses (for particular types of attendant care, transportation, and job equipment, for example) that you incur in order to be able to work are known as “impairment-related work expenses.”

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Additionally, if there is significant discrepancy between the amount of pay you receive and the value of the services you perform, then your work may include what the Social Security rules call a “subsidy.” It is necessary to subtract any subsidy amount when calculating your earnings. Social Security will count only the portion of your pay that you actually earn. A subsidy might exist, for example, when a claimant works for a relative. The claimant may perform little actual work and yet get paid more than the work is really worth.

Facts and documents to provide to your Palm Springs disability attorney at Medlegal Disability

If we are your Palm Springs disability lawyers, we will ask you about your pay rate and how many hours you work each week. We will need to examine all your paycheck stubs to calculate accurately the amount of your earnings. If you don’t have your paycheck stubs, then we can request a statement from your employer specifying your monthly earnings.

Even if you have earned above the SGA amount in a particular month, you may still qualify for benefits. What counts is your average earnings during the overall time period when you worked. Once we have assembled your earnings information, we can apply the detailed guidelines (contained in the Social Security rulings and regulations) to calculate average earnings and to determine whether you earn above or below the “substantial gainful activity” level.

Get help from our Palm Springs disability attorneys at Medlegal Disabiltiy

A knowledgeable Palm Springs disability attorney can help claimants who do some work apply for their disability benefits. If you live in San Bernardino County or Riverside County, you work despite having a physical or mental impairment, and you are seeking Social Security disability benefits, consider contacting Medlegal Disability for an evaluation.

You may send us an e-mail, or phone our office at 760-327-1285, or briefly describe your Social Security claim using the form to the right, and we will respond promptly.