Social Security determines the number of quarters of coverage (QC) for determining a person’s “insured status”; that is, determining whether or not they can pay a person or their family retirement, survivor’s or disability benefits.
Social Security has rules for determining if a person is “permanently insured” (if, for one example, they earned the maximum 40 QCs) and “fully insured” (for which a person needs at least one QC for each calendar year after they turned 21 and the earliest of the following: the year before you attain age 62, the year before you die, or the year before you become disabled. (Some exceptions apply)
Disability insured status is determined by whether a person is fully insured and has 20 quarters of coverage in the past 10 years.
Other rules may apply if a person is under 31 years of age, as well as other exceptions. (See https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/insured.html (date last visited April 30th, 2014).
It is an important part of a social security disability claim to determine the claimant’s date last insured (DLI). This may often be about five years from the date they last worked.
In order to qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), a claimant must prove they are disabled before the expiration of the date last insured. Otherwise, they may not be entitled to DIB benefits, but may still qualify for SSI benefits.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.