Social Security and being “insured” for benefits

If a person becomes disabled, for any reason, physical and/or mental conditions, and the disability is expected to last for at least 12 months, they should apply for Social Security Disability and Social Security Supplemental Disability benefits.

To qualify for the Social Security Disability benefits or SSDI, the person applying must show the disability began while they were “insured” for such benefits.

Social Security keeps track of the earnings that are reported. Earnings reported will create “Insured Credits”. Generally speaking, if a person works for 5 years they will acquire the necessary 20 quarters of credits necessary to become “insured” for Social Security Benefits. Depending upon the amounts earned during a particular year, the wage earner my earn quarters for all 4 quarters of the year, even if they only worked part of the year.

Wage earners in their first several years of employment may also be granted earnings if they have worked every quarter of the year up to the onset of disability.

The wage earner who has earned 20 quarters of coverage must show the onset of disability while still insured. The insured status will endure for some time after they last worked. If earnings were steady for at least 5 years, they generally have 5 more years of insured status, after they stopped working. The more sporadic the earnings or quarters of earned credits, the shorter the period of insured status.

Sometimes it requires the help of an attorney to sort out whether there is an insured status.

Everyone should review the printouts they receive from Social Security that lists their past work. If there is any employment that was not shown by Social Security, the wage earner should contact Social Security and advise them of earnings they might have missed. You will likely need to provide some proof of the other earnings.

One does not have to be Insured to receive Social Security Supplemental benefits (SSI) benefits. One does have to prove disability and financial need to receive SSI benefits. Earnings in the same household of the person applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits may disqualify the SSI applicant because there is a lack of financial need.