Understanding the Social Security Disability Program

Russo and Russo Social Security Disability Attorney

There are two different types of social security disability benefits you may be entitled to receive.  Qualifications for each type of benefit varies.  In addition, the Social Security Adminsitration uses several factors to determine your eligibility for benefits. 






Am I disabled under Social Security Disability (SSD) and entitled to benefits?

To be disablled you must:

  • Have physical or mental health problems or a combination of problems.

  • These problems must be severe enough to keep you from working in any job for
    which you are qualified.

  • You must be unable to work for a period of 12 months or more.

Am I disabled under Social Security Insurance (SSI)?

To be disabled under SSI you must have met the above listings AND:

Have assets (cash, bank accounts, CDs, stocks, etc.) valued at $2,000.00 or less or if you are married, you and your spouse must own things valued at $3,000.00 or less.

What factors are considered by the Social Security Administration when deciding whether  

  • Age

  • Education

  • Past Work History

  • Severity of Physical/Mental Conditions

  • Limitations Placed on You by Your Doctors

  • Inability to perform any Job/Sedentary Work

Is my case reviewed after I am awarded Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD/SSI)?

  • Yes.  You must continue to see your doctors on a regular basis.

  • Avoid performing any substantial gainful activity.

What is substantial gainful activity (SGA)?

Work that is substantial is activity that involves significant physical or mental activities - even part-time work.

Work that is gainful is activity that you do for pay or profit regardless of whether a profit is realized. 

What is not SGA?

  • Hobbies

  • Schooling

  • Club Activities

  • Household Tasks

What guides are used to determine if I am engaging in substantial gainful activity?

  • Your earnings. If your gross earnings averaged more than $1000.00 a
    month during the year of 2010,
    you are presumed to have engaged in
    substantial gainful activity.  

  • If your gross earnings were less than $1000.00 per month the following
    will be considered:

    Energy, skill and responsibility involved in your activity.

    Whether you work is worth more than $1000.00 a month according to
    pay scales in the community.

The Courts have considered the following factors other than earnings:

  • Whether you are able with some degree of consistency to perform work assignments satisfactorily without more supervision or assistance than is usually given to other people doing similar work.

  • Whether you have frequent absences.

  • Whether you have difficulties performing simple tasks.

  • Whether you need supervision or special conditions.

  • Whether you contribute substantially to the operation of the business.

When self-employed, the court considers:

  • Your earnings/income on your tax returns.

  • Nature of activities performed by you.

  • The value of your work to the business.

Can part-time work be considered SGA?

Yes, but the work activity must be performing significant physical or mental activities.

Can I try to return to work and still collect SSD benefits?

Yes, as long as you are not engaging in SGA.

What if the Court says you can try to work?

A disabled claimant is entitled to a nine-month trial work period during which he or she can engage in substantial gainful activity and still receive disability benefits.  After this period, there is a "re-entitlement period" during which a claimant's benefits will be reinstated without reapplication if substantial gainful activity ceases.  Once the entitlement period expires, a claimant needs to file a new application to receive benefits. 

Dedicated to Helping the Disabled

Colleen Russo
Attorney at Law

Long Standing Member,
The National Organization of Social Security  Claimants' Representatives

Free Consultations
(727) 578-0303
or 1-800-578-1970

Our Primary
St. Petersburg Office Location:

Russo & Russo, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
Corner of 9th Street N. and Gandy Blvd.
877 Executive Center Dr. West, Suite #112
St. Petersburg, FL 33702   map

Consultations also Available at:
Ulmerton Road and 58th Street North
The Summit Building
Clearwater, Florida 33760

                What to Expect

Colleen Russo Social Security Disability Brochure

Read the official booklet
that accompanies approval of
Social Security Disability Benefits

      Requires Adobe Reader.  Get it here.

   Max Monthly Earnings Allowed

Gross Earnings

You may be entitled to substantial retroactive or “past due” disability payments for previous years, as long as, your past gross monthly earnings did not exceed the SGA amounts amounts above.

- Social Security Administration

  How Colleen Russo Can Help

Free consultation

If you've been denied Social Security Disability Benefits, you have the right to appeal. A free consultation is available at our law offices located in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Attorney Colleen Russo will discuss with you all of your health problems, injuries, and conditions to determine whether your denial for benefits should be appealed.  She is an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer who can file a Request for Reconsideration for you and help you complete the Reconsideration Disability Report.

Click Here to learn how a Social Security Disability Lawyer can greatly increase your chances of obtaining Social Security Disability benefits.