In order to qualify for Michigan Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have: (1) worked long enough (i.e., paid Social Security taxes long enough) to be “fully insured”; and (2) worked recently enough (i.e., paid Social Security taxes recently enough) to have achieved “disability insured status.” In this way, the SSDI program operates like a private disability insurance policy. The Social Security taxes that are deducted from your paycheck are analogous to the premiums you pay on a private disability insurance policy. If you stop working and, therefore, stop paying Social Security taxes, your insured status will lapse, just as it would if you stopped making the premium payments on a private Michigan disability insurance policy.
Determining your eligibility based on quarters of coverage
The Social Security Administration requires you to have a minimum number of “quarters of coverage” (“QC”) in order to be insured. As a general rule, in order to be “fully insured,” you must have one QC for every calendar year after the year in which you turned 21, up to the calendar year before you become disabled; however, you are never required to have more than 40 QCs. Under the umbrella of this general rule, different rules for determining your insured status apply, depending on the age you become disabled. If, for example, you are over 31 years old, you must have 20 quarters of coverage out of the 40 calendar quarters before you become disabled. This is referred to as the 20/40 rule. If you have done significant work in five years out of the last 10, it is likely you will meet this requirement. A reduced QC requirement applies if you become disabled before age 31; still a different requirement applies if you become disabled before age 24. To receive any Social Security disability benefits, you will have to prove that you became disabled before your “date last insured.” For most people with a steady work record, insured status lapses approximately five years after they stop working.
As you can tell from this brief overview, the non-medical eligibility requirements for SSDI benefits are technical and complicated. If your application for Michigan Social Security disability benefits was denied based on your “insured status,” I can help you determine if the denial was in error and, if so, what steps to take next. Please contact me if you would like me to review your case.