Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Earn Above the Substantial Gainful Activity Level

Written by: Allison Baker, Gina Livermore, and James Drury
September 2023

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Many provisions of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) programs are intended to help beneficiaries work and earn at levels that reduce their reliance on disability benefits and potentially leave the programs. Even so, relatively few beneficiaries earn more than the Social Security Administration (SSA) substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount, an earnings threshold which can put eligibility for benefits at risk if sustained. This data brief presents statistics on the characteristics and employment experiences of SSI and DI beneficiaries who earn more than SGA for at least three consecutive months and shows how they differ from other working beneficiaries. SSI and DI beneficiaries who earn more than SGA are younger and healthier than other working beneficiaries, have more education and higher-quality jobs, and are more likely to know that they can keep their Medicaid or Medicare coverage after losing their SSI or DI benefits because of earnings.