When Weather-Related Paid Time Off and Other Pay, When No Work Is Performed, Should Not Count Toward an SGA DeterminationPolicy Reminder – February 1, 2024
When Weather-Related Paid Time Off and Other Pay, When No Work Is Performed, Should Not Count Toward an SGA Determination
The most recent national news documents snowstorms, ice storms, tornados, and devastating floods from coast-to-coast. With the next storm, and the next after that close behind many communities cannot continue business as usual. From the Far West, to the Midwest, to the Deep South and beyond weather-related government and business closures mean a lot of employees with one or more paid days off.
If you are a benefits counselor serving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries, you need to revisit those materials you have on paid time off (PTO) as a way to reduce countable earnings when determining whether a beneficiary was paid at the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. See Deeper Dive #5, Substantial Gainful Activity Determinations: Using Paid Time Off as Exclusions When Determining Countable Earnings, on the members-only section of www.NABWIS.org, for an in-depth discussion of these issues.
The general principle according to POMS DI 10505.010 C, SSA’s policy on determining countable income, is that only the earnings that can be directly attributed to an SSDI beneficiary’s work activity in that month should be used in determining if the individual has engaged in SGA in that month. This means that sick time pay and vacation pay, holiday pay, bereavement pay, snow day pay, most jury duty pay, and parental leave pay must all be considered non-work days and thus should not count when determining whether countable earnings in a month were at the SGA level.
Assume that Eduardo Ramirez works 17 days in a month and is paid for 3 additional snow days. Only the earnings that are derived from Eduardo’s actual work activity for the 17 days should be considered when determining if he has engaged in SGA in that month. If the earnings from Eduardo’s 17 days of work are not SGA, then a determination can be made that he did not engage in SGA for that given month. Even if the earnings for Eduardo’s 3 snow days bring his earnings to what appears to be earnings above the SGA, Eduardo did not perform SGA as those 3 days of snow pay do not count toward the earnings.
We urge benefits counselors to always look to PTO for days or partial days, when no work was done to earn that pay, as a way to reduce countable earnings when determining whether SGA occurred in a month. PTO can be combined with Impairment Related Work Expenses and subsidies to reduce countable earnings below the SGA level for a month.
Prepared by: James R. Sheldon, NABWIS Board Member and Edwin J. Lopez-Soto, NABWIS Member