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Understanding Last-Insured Date Illustration

A Social Security Disability claimant must have “insured status” to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

A Social Security claimant must have worked 20 out of the last 40 quarters to have “insured status.” So, if a claimant has not worked in the last five years (20 quarters) the claimant will not meet insured status for a disability beginning after the last 20 quarters. An Award of disability may be possible even when the insured status has recently run out.

Any later disability application will have to show that the claimant became disabled (known as the “onset date”) within the insured status period. The onset date must be within the insured status period.

A worker gets a quarter of coverage when he or she has earned the amount specified by Social Security. The amount of earnings needed for a quarter of coverage changes each year according to the national average wage index. For 2016, a worker must earn $1,130 in a quarter to get credit for that quarter. Again, this amount changes yearly. The quarters do not have to be consecutive. Only four quarters can be earned in a year, even if a worker’s earnings are much more than $1,130 in the quarter.

Forty quarters is equal to 10 years. In the illustration below, each box represents a quarter of coverage available. (X) = quarter worked

2007 X X X X 2008 X X X X
2009 X X X X 2010 X X X X
2011 X X X X 2012
2013 2014
2015 2016

In the above example, the “Last Date Insured” would be Dec. 31, 2016, the last time the claimant has 20 out of 40 quarters earned. Later work may extend the insured status period.

2007 2008
2009 2010
2011 2012 X X X X
2013 X X X X 2014 X X X X
2015 X X X X 2016 X X X X

In the second example, the claimant’s last insured date would not be until Dec. 31, 2021.