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Thelawman2, Attorney
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Experience:  Attorney-at-Law
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My friend would like to know if and how monthly wages are

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My friend would like to know if and how monthly wages are calculated for SSDI purposes. He recently went over the monthly SGA 2017 limit of 1170 because backpay was included in a check this month.
JA: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: MD
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: like what? This is what we are asking you.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Will this be a disability lawyer?

Thank you for using Just Answer. I am a licensed attorney and look forward to helping you. I am reviewing your question and will reply back shortly.

Social security does indeed look at the amount of money a disabled person earns. Specifically, if you can engage in what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls "substantial gainful activity" (SGA), they won't be eligible for benefits. A person who earns more than a certain monthly amount is considered to be engaging in SGA. Federal regulations use the national average wage index to set the income limit for determining the SGA each year. In 2017, the amount is $1,170 for disabled applicants and $1,950 for blind applicants.

Individuals who work and earn gross monthly income exceeding the SGA threshold are not considered disabled and are ineligible to receive benefits, unless they were working under special circumstances. Generally, if you are making over $1,170 when you apply, your claim will be denied almost immediately, without a medical review (your medical records will not even be requested or evaluated because you will be considered ineligible for benefits), because how much you are earning is one of the first things the SSA looks at.

Now, if your friend has stopped working and then applies, it doesn't matter, because SGA rules apply only where a person is receiving SSDI and working. What your friend would have to show - if he was earning consistently above $1170 a month -is that his condition worsened to the point where he had no choice but to stop working and apply for disability. That's the basis for a person filing a disability claim in the first place, though.

There are other rules and special circumstances that are a bit more complex, for example, where a person collects SSDI and then goes back to work and makes more than SGA, the Social Security Administration will not automatically cut off benefits, and may consider this instead a "trial work period" where a person wants to see if they are well enough to return to work.

If you require any additional information or clarification, please REPLY WITHOUT RATING and I'll be happy to assist you further. Otherwise, if you have no additional questions, please remember to leave a positive rating by clicking on the stars at the top of the page. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
My question was how SGA is calculated. We know already what you've written. We want to know if they can look month to month, and how, or if income is averaged, quarterly, annually etc.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I will be helping you today.

SSA personnel deal with this situation by averaging earnings out over multiple months. Averaging is not performed over a specified time period, but instead will look at the time period over which the income is earned. For instance, if the person earned 3 months of income in a single month, the SSA personnel will average that income over three months.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
How does SSA know that a given month's income represents 3 months in your example?Suppose monthly income goes like this:1100
2000(###) ###-####
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
also, from whom does SSA get this information? (The monthly income...)

Your friend should be reaching out to the SSA and giving them whatever documentation that he has which would demonstrate that the income is a result of 3 months work. There should be paystubs or records at an employer which demonstrate that all the income was not earned in a single month.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I want to know a generic answer: from where does SSA get it's pay data (besides tax returns?).And how does it determine how many months to average by, as in my last post's monthly income example.Thank you.

First, it would average based on the information that you provide them. For instance, if you tell them that the first two months actually represent back pay for a total of 5 months, they would average the $3100 over 5 months to come out to a monthly figure.

If you tell them that your pay over those five months has been variable but you have been doing the same work for the 5 months (for instance, if you make earnings on commissions or tips), then they will look at the entire 5-month period to determine your monthly average.

Here is a regulation in SSA's website that details how they average, and it includes different examples that you can review:

The SSA gets its wage information from self-reporting and this will include providing every pay stub that a person receives.

Thelawman2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1531
Experience: Attorney-at-Law
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Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you!!!!

You are welcome!