Worth of Work Test
What does Worth of Work Test mean?
Claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cannot be working too much or making too much money to qualify for benefits. If the claimant is performing what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity or SGA, the SSA will automatically deny their claim.
Determining substantial gainful activity can be fairly straightforward if the claimant is working and earning a wage. In this case, the SSA has established a threshold for benefits. Although the amount is adjusted periodically based on the cost of living, in 2015, the amount is $1,090 or more per month (for the non-blind). Any claimant earning this amount, regardless of the hours they are working, will be considered not disabled.
What is the Worth of Work Test?
According to the SSA, when the SSA is reviewing whether a self-employed beneficiary is disabled, due to the performance of SGA, the work activity will be evaluated under three different tests. One of these tests is referred to as the Worth of Work Test.
Using the Worth of Work Test the Social Security Administration (SSA) is attempting to determine if the self-employed, impaired claimant is operating a business at a level that equals that of other business owners in the community.
Determining comparability requires the SSA to compare not only the income or profit generated from the business, but also comparing other factors such as hours worked, skill level needed to generate a product, energy output, efficiency, duties, and responsibilities. It is possible for the claimant to earn no profit but still be performing substantial gainful activity.
If, however, the SSA determines that there are not enough factors which are comparable to another individual performing SGA work they will determine the effort of the claimant is not SGA.
Work is not considered comparable
Several other factors are considered by the SSA for the Worth of Work Test. For instance, they will also review whether the type of self-employment is the same and whether the impaired claimant is able to maintain a standard of living which is adequate for a particular community.
The method of comparison is also important. For example, the SSA states that “a description should be obtained through a personal interview with an unimpaired self-employed individual from the selected group.” The SSA will also obtain “first-hand knowledge of the impaired individual's work situation obtained through actual participation or observation.”
Hiring a Disability Lawyer
If your claim is denied because the SSA claims you are performing substantial gainful activity, you can contact a lawyer for more information about your options for winning benefits or apply for benefits when your work level or income has decreased due to your disability.