How to Verify Whether You’re “Insured” to Claim Social Security Disability Benefits

It is important for anyone who is considering an application for Social Security disability benefits, (benefits based upon their own past earnings records) to first verify that they have “insured” status under the Social Security regulations.

To gain the status of “insured” in the eyes of the Social Security, one must have worked a certain amount since the age of 21. According to the Social Security Administration, a person must work a certain amount of hours (as defined by the Social Security) for three consecutive months in order to earn one “credit”. The minimum number of credits needed to attained “insured” status is six. To be fully insured, at least one credit must be earned for each year after a person turns 21.

People who become “insured” remain insured for a significant period after they last worked.  A person who has worked regularly for 10 years and acquired the 40 quarters of coverage remains “insured” for another 5 years.

Persons who haven’t worked for years may still qualify for disability benefits if they can prove that the onset of their disability began when they still had insured status.

Proving an earlier onset, as well as ongoing disability, requires medical proof of a disabling condition that lasted or will last for 12 continuous months of disability.

Chronic conditions such as emphysema, COPD, Asthma, Heart disease, Diabetes, chronic neck or back pain, hip pain, or other joint pains, even fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome can often be shown to have been disabling for a number of years prior to the current application.

If there is a question of whether the person applying for Social Security benefits is insured or when they were last insured, for example if they have not worked for more than 5 years, we recommend that they consult with an attorney. Even if you prove the person currently can’t work, they might still lose out on benefits because there was no proof that the condition was also disabling when they were still “insured” for benefits.