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What “Insured Status” Means

Attorney Dan Lenz blogs about dealing with Social Security Disability benefits and what "insured status" means.

One of the more difficult ideas in dealing with social security benefits and claims for those benefits is the idea of the “insured status.”  This term refers to a claimant’s work history prior to the time they became disabled.  To receive social security disability insurance benefits, a claimant must demonstrate that they became disabled when they were “insured.”  While this use of insured is related to other forms of insurance, such as automobile or health insurance, it has some unique features.  Instead of paying a monthly or yearly premium, as people work in the economy, they pay taxes out of their paychecks.  These taxes are often abbreviated as OASDI, which stands for “Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance.”  By paying those taxes, a working person earns Quarters of Coverage (sometimes called quarters).  To become insured for purposes of SSDI, a person must have a certain number of quarters accumulated before the date they became disabled, whether or not they have a diagnosis, which is called their Onset Date.  To find out how many credits a person might need, you can check here.  The date at which a person stops being insured is called their Date Last Insured (DLI).  To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, a person’s Onset Date must be before their Date Last Insured, regardless of when they apply.

                Determining a person’s date last insured is often technical and an experienced attorney or Social Security representative may be able to help.  There are, however, a couple of important things to remember:

1.            Insured status matters for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (otherwise known as SSDI, DIB or Title II benefits) and retirement benefits.  They do not matter for SSI benefits. 

2.            Date Last Insured does not control the date on which a person must APPLY for benefits, and only matters for the date the person BECAME DISABLED.

3.            Work history can also affect the amount a person receives for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

4.            The Social Security Administration maintains a number of helpful tables, like this one, that can also help you plan or determine whether you might be insured.

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