I represent a 55 year old former steamfitter with spine problems whose Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits were approved today in a decision by Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Andrew Weiss. The initial issue the ALJ had to decide was whether the claimant had engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”).
The claimant had earned around $900 for one quarter, which the ALJ noted was below the SGA threshold, which is about a $1,000 a month. The claimant had also received money from his union’s benefit fund and from unemployment insurance, neither of which the ALJ found were from work activity.
It was nice to have an ALJ acknowledge that unemployment benefits do not bar SSD benefits. In the past, some ALJ’s, notably the Padro ALJs, had used a claimant’s receipt of unemployment benefits as an excuse to deny SSD benefits. Those denials were always overturned on appeal.