There are different kinds of insured status depending on the type of Social Security benefits being claimed. For most Social Security benefits, fully insured status is required. Dependents and survivors are eligible based on relationship to an insured worker. There is no work requirement or insured status requirement for them.
For Social Security purposes, to be fully insured, you must earn one Quarter of Coverage for every year after 1951 and up to and including the year you attain age 62 (for Social Security Retirement benefits), become disabled (for Disability Insurance benefits), or die (for Survivor benefits).
A Quarter of Coverage is a calendar quarter for which credit is given by Social Security to decide if a person has worked long enough to qualify for benefits. To earn credit, a minimum amount of wages from covered employment or self employment income must be earned. Almost all employment and self employment is now covered by Social Security.
The minimum number of Quarters of Coverage required in any case is 6. The maximum is 40.
Social Security currently insured status requires fewer Quarters of Coverage than fully insured status. However, most benefits are based on fully insured status. Some Social Security benefits based on currently insured status include Surviving Child's Benefits, Mother's Benefits, the Lump Sum Death Benefit, and Medicare for kidney failure cases.
For a Social Security Currently insured status, the worker must earn at least 6 Quarters of Coverage within the thirteen calendar quarter period ending with the calendar quarter of death.
The calendar quarters are:
First quarter - January - March
Second quarter - April - June
Third quarter - July - September
Fourth quarter - October - December
Social Security Disability insured status is required to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The person seeking to claim the Social Security Disability insurance benefits must be fully insured and meet a second requirement of recent Quarters of Coverage.
If you become disabled in or after the calendar quarter you reach age 31, you must have at least 20 Quarters of Coverage during the 40 calendar quarter period ending with the quarter your disability begins.
If you become disabled before the calendar quarter of the month your became 31, you must have one Quarter of Coverage for every two calendar quarters in the period beginning with the calendar quarter after the quarter of your twenty-first birthday and ending with the quarter of the time you became disabled. If the number of quarters in this period is an odd number, use the next lower even number. A minimum of 6 Quarters of Coverage is required.