Security Increases Earnings Limit for Beneficiaries with Disabilities
Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced
that the earnings limit for beneficiaries with disabilities will increase
by $200 a month, beginning on July 1.
The increase in the earnings
limit to $700 - known as substantial gainful activity (SGA) -- is
a part of the Clinton Administration's initiatives to encourage
Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities to return to the
workforce and reflects growth in average wages since 1990, when
the level was set at $500.
"This regulatory change is
necessary to help eliminate barriers that often limit the full potential
of Americans with disabilities who want to work," Commissioner Apfel
said. "It is important for the nation to create opportunities for
workers with disabilities who can bring tremendous talent and energy
to the workplace."
The term SGA is part of the
statutory definition of disability that requires an individual to
be unable to engage in substantial work for initial and ongoing
eligibility under the Social Security Disability Insurance program
and initial eligibility under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The disability insurance program
pays an average benefit of $722 to 4.7 million workers with disabilities.
In addition, some 1.6 million members of their families receive
Each year since 1993, nearly
400,000 beneficiaries with disabilities participated in some way
in the workforce. Many others, however, did not attempt to work
for fear of losing both cash and medical benefits.
The SGA level of $1,110 for
workers who are blind is established by statute and is adjusted
annually based on the national average wage index and is not affected
by today's announcement. Since President Clinton established the
National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities in
early 1998, SSA has been actively involved in a number of initiatives
designed to encourage Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities
to return to work.
In addition, the Administration
strongly supports the Work Incentives Improvement Act that provides
the continuation of health insurance for workers with disabilities
who return to work as well as enhanced employment services. That
measure, sponsored by Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, Roth, and Moynihan,
was approved by the Senate by a vote of 99 to 0 on June 16.