§ 404.1575. Evaluation guides if you are self-employed.

(a) If you are a self-employed person. If you are working or have worked as a self-employed person, we will use the provisions in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section that are relevant to your work activity. We will use these provisions whenever they are appropriate, whether in connection with your application for disability benefits (when we make an initial determination on your application and throughout any appeals you may request), after you have become entitled to a period of disability or to disability benefits, or both.

(1) How we evaluate the work you do after you have become entitled to disability benefits. If you are entitled to social security disability benefits and you work as a self-employed person, the way we will evaluate your work activity will depend on whether the work activity occurs before or after you have received such benefits for at least 24 months and on the purpose of the evaluation. For purposes of paragraphs (a) and (e) of this section, social security disability benefits means disability insurance benefits for a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability. We will use the rules in paragraph (e)(2) of this section to determine if you have received such benefits for at least 24 months.

(i) We will use the guides in paragraph (a)(2) of this section to evaluate any work activity you do before you have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months to determine whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity, regardless of the purpose of the evaluation.

(ii) We will use the guides in paragraph (e) of this section to evaluate any work activity you do after you have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months to determine whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity for the purpose of determining whether your disability has ceased because of your work activity.

(iii) If we have determined under § 404.1592a(a)(1) that your disability ceased in a month during the reentitlement period because you performed substantial gainful activity, and we need to decide under § 404.1592a(a)(2)(i) or (a)(3)(i) whether you are doing substantial gainful activity in a subsequent month in or after your reentitlement period, we will use the guides in paragraph (a)(2) of this section (subject to the limitations described in § 404.1592a(a)(2)(i) and (a)(3)(i)) to determine whether your work activity in that month is substantial gainful activity. We will use the guides in paragraph (a)(2) of this section for these purposes, regardless of whether your work activity in that month occurs before or after you have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months.

(2) General rules for evaluating your work activity if you are self-employed. We will consider your activities and their value to your business to decide whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if you are self-employed. We will not consider your income alone because the amount of income you actually receive may depend on a number of different factors, such as capital investment and profit-sharing agreements. We will generally consider work that you were forced to stop or reduce to below substantial gainful activity after 6 months or less because of your impairment as an unsuccessful work attempt. See paragraph (d) of this section. We will evaluate your work activity based on the value of your services to the business regardless of whether you receive an immediate income for your services. We determine whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity by applying three tests. If you have not engaged in substantial gainful activity under test one, then we will consider tests two and three. The tests are as follows:

(i) Test one: You have engaged in substantial gainful activity if you render services that are significant to the operation of the business and receive a substantial income from the business. Paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section explain what we mean by significant services and substantial income for purposes of this test.

(ii) Test Two: You have engaged in substantial gainful activity if your work activity, in terms of factors such as hours, skills, energy output, efficiency, duties, and responsibilities, is comparable to that of unimpaired individuals in your community who are in the same or similar businesses as their means of livelihood.

(iii) Test Three: You have engaged in substantial gainful activity if your work activity, although not comparable to that of unimpaired individuals, is clearly worth the amount shown in § 404.1574(b)(2) when considered in terms of its value to the business, or when compared to the salary that an owner would pay to an employee to do the work you are doing.

(b) What we mean by significant services. (1) If you are not a farm landlord and you operate a business entirely by yourself, any services that you render are significant to the business. If your business involves the services of more than one person, we will consider you to be rendering significant services if you contribute more than half the total time required for the management of the business, or you render management services for more than 45 hours a month regardless of the total management time required by the business.

(2) If you are a farm landlord, that is, you rent farm land to another, we will consider you to be rendering significant services if you materially particpate in the production or the management of the production of the things raised on the rented farm. (See § 404.1082 of this chapter for an explanation of material participation.) If you were given social security earnings credits because you materially participated in the activities of the farm and you continue these same activities, we will consider you to be rendering significant services.

(c) What we mean by substantial income—(1) Determining countable income. We deduct your normal business expenses from your gross income to determine net income. Once we determine your net income, we deduct the reasonable value of any significant amount of unpaid help furnished by your spouse, children, or others. Miscellaneous duties that ordinarily would not have commercial value would not be considered significant. We deduct impairment-related work expenses that have not already been deducted in determining your net income. Impairment-related work expenses are explained in § 404.1576. We deduct unincurred business expenses paid for you by another individual or agency. An unincurred business expense occurs when a sponsoring agency or another person incurs responsibility for the payment of certain business expenses, e.g., rent, utilities, or purchases and repair of equipment, or provides you with equipment, stock, or other material for the operation of your business. We deduct soil bank payments if they were included as farm income. That part of your income remaining after we have made all applicable deductions represents the actual value of work performed. The resulting amount is the amount we use to determine if you have done substantial gainful activity. For purposes of this section, we refer to this amount as your countable income. We will generally average your countable income for comparison with the earnings guidelines in § 404.1574(b)(2). See § 404.1574a for our rules on averaging of earnings.

(2) When countable income is considered substantial. We will consider your countable income to be substantial if—

(i) It averages more than the amounts described in § 404.1574(b)(2); or

(ii) It averages less than the amounts described in § 404.1574(b)(2) but it is either comparable to what it was before you became seriously impaired if we had not considered your earnings or is comparable to that of unimpaired self-employed persons in your community who are in the same or a similar business as their means of livelihood.

(d) The unsuccessful work attempt—(1) General. Ordinarily, work you have done will not show that you are able to do substantial gainful activity if, after working for a period of 6 months or less, you were forced by your impairment to stop working or to reduce the amount of work you do so that you are no longer performing substantial gainful activity and you meet the conditions described in paragraphs (d)(2), (3), (4), and (5) of this section. We will use the provisions of this paragraph when we make an initial determination on your application for disability benefits and throughout any appeal you may request. Except as set forth in § 404.1592a(a), we will also apply the provisions of this paragraph if you are already entitled to disability benefits, when you work and we consider whether the work you are doing is substantial gainful activity or demonstrates the ability to do substantial gainful activity.

(2) Event that must precede an unsuccessful work attempt. There must be a significant break in the continuity of your work before we will consider you to have begun a work attempt that later proved unsuccessful. You must have stopped working or reduced your work and earnings below substantial gainful activity because of your impairment or because of the removal of special conditions which took into account your impairment and permitted you to work. Examples of such special conditions may include any significant amount of unpaid help furnished by your spouse, children, or others, or unincurred business expenses, as described in paragraph (c) of this section, paid for you by another individual or agency. We will consider your prior work to be “discontinued” for a significant period if you were out of work at least 30 consecutive days. We will also consider your prior work to be “discontinued” if, because of your impairment, you were forced to change to another type of work.

(3) If you worked 3 months or less. We will consider work of 3 months or less to be an unsuccessful work attempt if it ended, or was reduced below substantial gainful activity, because of your impairment or because of the removal of special conditions which took into account your impairment and permitted you to work.

(4) If you worked between 3 and 6 months. We will consider work that lasted longer than 3 months to be an unsuccessful work attempt if it ended, or was reduced below substantial gainful activity, within 6 months because of your impairment or because of the removal of special conditions which took into account your impairment and permitted you to work and—

(i) You were frequently unable to work because of your impairment;

(ii) Your work was unsatisfactory because of your impairment;

(iii) You worked during a period of temporary remission of your impairment; or

(iv) You worked under special conditions that were essential to your performance and these conditions were removed.

(5) If you worked more than 6 months. We will not consider work you performed at the substantial gainful activity level for more than 6 months to be an unsuccessful work attempt regardless of why it ended or was reduced below the substantial gainful activity earnings level.

(e) Special rules for evaluating the work you do after you have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months—(1) General. We will apply the provisions of this paragraph to evaluate the work you are doing or have done if, at the time you do the work, you are entitled to social security disability benefits and you have received such benefits for at least 24 months. We will apply the provisions of this paragraph only when we are evaluating that work to consider whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity or demonstrated the ability to engage in substantial gainful activity for the purpose of determining whether your disability has ceased because of your work activity (see §§ 404.1592a(a)(1) and (3)(ii) and 404.1594(d)(5) and (f)(1)). We will use the countable income test described in paragraph (e)(3) of this section to determine whether the work you do after you have received such benefits for at least 24 months is substantial gainful activity or demonstrates the ability to do substantial gainful activity. We will not consider the services you perform in that work to determine that the work you are doing shows that you are able to engage in substantial gainful activity and are, therefore, no longer disabled. However, we may consider the services you perform to determine that you are not doing substantial gainful activity. We will generally consider work that you were forced to stop or reduce below substantial gainful activity after 6 months or less because of your impairment as an unsuccessful work attempt. See paragraph (d) of this section.

(2) The 24-month requirement. For purposes of paragraphs (a)(1) and (e) of this section, we consider you to have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months beginning with the first day of the first month following the 24th month for which you actually received social security disability benefits that you were due or constructively received such benefits. The 24 months do not have to be consecutive. We will consider you to have constructively received a benefit for a month for purposes of the 24-month requirement if you were otherwise due a social security disability benefit for that month and your monthly benefit was withheld to recover an overpayment. Any months for which you were entitled to benefits but for which you did not actually or constructively receive a benefit payment will not be counted for the 24-month requirement. If you also receive supplemental security income payments based on disability or blindness under title XVI of the Social Security Act, months for which you received only supplemental security income payments will not be counted for the 24-month requirement.

(3) Countable income test. We will compare your countable income to the earnings guidelines in § 404.1574(b)(2) to determine if you have engaged in substantial gainful activity. See paragraph (c)(1) of this section for an explanation of countable income. We will consider that you have engaged in substantial gainful activity if your monthly countable income averages more than the amounts described in § 404.1574(b)(2) for the month(s) in which you work, unless the evidence shows that you did not render significant services in the month(s). See paragraph (b) of this section for what we mean by significant services. If your average monthly countable income is equal to or less than the amounts in § 404.1574(b)(2) for the month(s) in which you work, or if the evidence shows that you did not render significant services in the month(s), we will consider that your work as a self-employed person shows that you have not engaged in substantial gainful activity.

[46 FR 4870, Jan. 19, 1981, as amended at 48 FR 21936, May 16, 1983; 49 FR 22272, May 29, 1984; 65 FR 42785, July 11, 2000; 71 FR 66854, Nov. 17, 2006]