To be insured means you have sufficient number of work credits as your work record. The work credits need to be from jobs where you paid your social security taxes regularly. Work credits are calculated on the amount of time you worked as an employee or incase of self-employed (business, freelancers) in terms of the income that is reported on your annual work records and taxes.
The dollar amount stated equivalent to one work credit is variable and may change each year. For instance, in 2017 you needed to earn a minimum of $1300 to earn one credit. In 2019, you need to earn at least $1420 to earn one credit. However, you can only earn up to 4 work credits in one year regardless of how much you earn. It takes a total of 40 work credits to be fully eligible for the social security disability insurance.
Difference between currently insured and fully insured
A person can either be currently insured or fully insured depending on the amount of total work credits they earned over the years. A person who has acquired a fully insured title would be eligible to greater benefits under the Social Security Disability program as compared to someone with a status of 'currently insured' or partially insured.
A person would acquire the status of currently insured if he/she managed to earn up to 6 (six) work credits within a period up to three years or before the thirteen-quarters ending period. This must be before the person became disabled or died (in case the dependent's apply for survivor's benefits). Unfortunately, people who do not have enough work credits may not be eligible for disability and retirement benefits. However, it is fortunate that the dependents of an uninsured person can still receive some survivor benefits depending on the circumstances. It is best that you talk to a professional social security attorney for detailed guidance on this.
Benefits for currently insured
These benefits are granted to currently insured workers (or their survivors) only:
- Surviving spouse benefits if the widow(er) is caring for a child who is entitled to benefits under the deceased worker's earnings record and who is either:
- under the age of 16, or
- Children's benefits for the dependent, unmarried child of a deceased worker if the child is:
- under the age of 18
- under the age of 19 and a full-time elementary or secondary school student, or
- aged 18 or older but became disabled before the age of 22.
The surviving spouse benefits may also be available to a surviving former spouse.
In order for a person to qualify for disability benefits through fully insured status, they would need to have at least 40 work credits up their sleeves. This would generally imply that the person worked enough work hours and earned the specified wage for up to 12 years before retirement. Also it depends on which age the person became disabled to qualify for the disability benefits under fully insured.
Benefits for fully insured
These benefits are granted to fully insured workers (or their survivors) only:
- retirement benefits for workers 62 or older
- disability benefits
- widow(er)s benefits for widow(ers) aged 60 or older
- widow(er) benefits if the widow(er) is caring for a child who is either under the age of 16 or who is disabled and that child is entitled to benefits under the deceased worker's earnings record
- disabled widow(er) benefits for widow(ers) between the ages of 50 and 60
- dependent parents benefits for parents aged 62 or older of a deceased fully insured worker
- spousal benefits for spouses aged 62 or older
- spousal benefits for spouses who are caring for a child who is either under the age of 16 or who is disabled and that child is entitled to benefits under the deceased worker's earnings record
- children's benefits if the child is under the age of 18, or under the age of 19 and a full-time elementary or secondary school student, or aged 18 or older and who became disabled before the age of 22.