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What is a 'subsidy' in terms of income when seeking SSD benefits?

In this space, we have previously covered the concept of "substantial gainful activity" as it relates to those New Jersey residents who are filing for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. To refresh your memory, the Social Security Administration will make a determination if an applicant can engage in SGA to decide if the individual is unable to work for the purposes of receiving SSDI benefits.

We've also discussed the idea that one might be able to work some and still be eligible for disability benefits, depending on the nature and scope of the work and how much money such employment earns. Some concepts that can be fundamental to this determination are those of a 'subsidy' or 'special condition' that an applicant receives or is subject to. While these ideas can be a bit esoteric to many people, the basic idea is that when the SSA determines whether an applicant can engage in SGA in terms of disability eligibility, it will only take into account those earnings that reflect the actual value of the work he or she does.

In general, the SSA will see support or help that your employer or a third party gives you to enable you to do a job as a potential subsidy or special condition, if it means that your pay does not reflect the true value of the work you can do. For example, if your disability requires you to take longer paid breaks, or break more often than others with the same pay, or if your tasks are less complex or fewer in number than others doing the same job, you may be considered to be receiving a subsidy or be under a special condition. Further, an applicant who requires more supervision or a mentor or coach that helps him or her perform the work may also be in this category.

If an SSDI applicant is receiving a subsidy or is under a special condition, his or her actual pay may be greater than the amount SSA considers when determining whether that person can engage in SGA. It should be noted, however, that these situations are likely rare, and may need to be pointed out to SSA. Those with questions about applying for SSDI may wish to consider consulting an experienced New Jersey SSDI attorney.

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