Stephanie O. Joy, Esq.
Part-Timer Workers - Good Reasons To Earn your 4 SS Credits Even With a Pending SS Claim
Note: This article/video is for general information only and is not legal advice to any particular reader or individual. For legal advice, you must specifically retain a lawyer who evaluates your specific situation.
The amount of earnings required for a quarter of coverage (QC) in 2023 is $1,640. This is up from $1,510 in 2022, thanks to extremely high inflation of the last 1-2 years.
"Quarter of coverage", a.k.a "Social Security credit", "credit" or "QC" is the basic unit for determining whether a worker is insured under the Social Security program. No matter how high your earnings may be, you can not earn more than 4 QC's in one year. For most non-younger adults, we need 40 QCs to become insured in a vested manner, for our Social Security Retirement (SSR) benefits. Once we have them they don't expire for that SSR purpose.
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SSD and "term insurance"
However, for Social Security Disability (SSD), the credits we earn that can be considered at any given point to determine if we are "insured" for SSD, do 'expire'. I look at it as a "'scrolling off' of the score board". I often describe SSD insurance benefits as being similar to "term insurance" in this way - once we stop paying our insurance premiums (paying SS taxes on our current earnings), which happens if we stop working altogether, our insurance coverage, be it auto, health, life, private policy, etc., our coverage comes to an end at some point in the not too distance future.
20 QCs in last 40 quarters: For SSD, for most non-younger adults, we need 20 QCs earned from working, within the last 40 quarters (10 years), at the time we claim. This is broadly noted by some as "5 years of work within the last 10" as of the time of claiming to become disabled. It does also mean you only need 1/2 of the credits you could earn, not all of them, in that 10 year window. Moreover, it only takes very part time efforts and hours, to earn each credit.
Cost for all 4 QCs in 2023: In 2022, one only had to earn $6040 to earn ALL 4 CREDITS for that year. In 2023, we know now that one has to earn $6,560 this year to earn ALL 4 CREDITS for 2023.
If a person is uninsured for SSD due to long passage of time since they last worked (loss of insured status or never gained it initially), but
they find a job they can do that is not inconsistent with their medical disabilities that prevents full time work, and
they put in up to 5 years (could be far less) of work activity earning (and paying taxes) at the minimum taxed earnings to earn all 4 credits for each of those calendar years . . .
they can again be insured for SSD and make that application. By doing do, they are also likely improving the benefits amount (primary insurance amount) for both SSD and later for SSR.
This is not for everyone, but for everyone that is interested, it is possible and not uncommon.
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