§ 404.1584. Evaluation of work activity of blind people.

(a) General. If you are blind (as explained in § 404.1581), we will consider the earnings from the work you are doing to determine whether or not you should be paid cash benefits.

(b) Under Age 55. If you are under age 55, we will evaluate the work you are doing using the guides in paragraph (d) of this section to determine whether or not your work shows that you are doing substantial gainful activity. If you are not doing substantial gainful activity, we will pay you cash benefits. If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will not pay you cash benefits. However, you will be given a period of disability as described in subpart D of this part.

(c) Age 55 or older. If you are age 55 or older, we will evaluate your work using the guides in paragraph (d) of this section to determine whether or not your work shows that you are doing substantial gainful activity. If you have not shown this ability, we will pay you cash benefits. If you have shown an ability to do substantial gainful activity, we will evaluate your work activity to find out how your work compares with the work you did before. If the skills and abilities of your new work are about the same as those you used in the work you did before, we will not pay you cash benefits. However, if your new work requires skills and abilities which are less than or different than those you used in the work you did before, we will pay you cash benefits, but not for any month in which you actually perform substantial gainful activity.

(d) Evaluation of earnings—(1) Earnings that will ordinarily show that you have engaged in substantial gainful activity. We will ordinarily consider that your earnings from your work activities show that you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if your monthly earnings average more than the amount(s) shown in paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) of this section. We will apply §§ 404.1574(a)(2), 404.1575(c), and 404.1576 in determining the amount of your average earnings.

(2) Substantial gainful activity guidelines for taxable years before 1978. For work activity performed in taxable years before 1978, the average earnings per month that we ordinarily consider enough to show that you have done substantial gainful activity are the same for blind people as for others. See § 404.1574(b)(2) for the earnings guidelines for other than blind individuals.

(3) Substantial gainful activity guidelines for taxable years beginning 1978. For taxable years beginning 1978, if you are blind, the law provides different earnings guidelines for determining if your earnings from your work activities are substantial gainful activity. Ordinarily, we consider your work to be substantial gainful activity, if your average monthly earnings are more than those shown in Table I. For years after 1977 and before 1996, increases in the substantial gainful activity guideline were linked to increases in the monthly exempt amount under the retirement earnings test for individuals aged 65 to 69. Beginning with 1996, increases in the substantial gainful activity amount have depended only on increases in the national average wage index.

Table I
Over In year(s)
$334 1978
$375 1979
$417 1980
$459 1981
$500 1982
$550 1983
$580 1984
$610 1985
$650 1986
$680 1987
$700 1988
$740 1989
$780 1990
$810 1991
$850 1992
$880 1993
$930 1994
$940 1995
$960 1996
$1,000 1997
$1,050 1998
$1,110 1999
$1,170 2000

[45 FR 55584, Aug. 20, 1980, as amended at 48 FR 21939, May 16, 1983; 65 FR 42786, July 11, 2000]