Non-disability requirements for North Carolina Social Security Disability Insurance benefits

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In order to qualify for North Carolina Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must meet the strict definition of "disability" found in the Social Security regulations andmeet certain non-disability requirements. We discussed the definition of "disability" in our June 1, 2010 post to this blog. This post will provide an overview of the non-disability requirements.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program, as its name implies, operates much like a private North Carolina disability insurance policy. The Social Security taxes that are deducted from your paycheck are analogous to the premiums you would pay on a private policy. In order to qualify for North Carolina SSDI benefits, you must have worked recently enough and long enough (i.e., paid Social Security taxes recently enough and long enough) to achieve insured status.

Have you worked long enough?

In general, in order to be "fully insured," you must have one "quarter of coverage" ("QC") for every calendar year beginning with the year after you turned 21, up to the calendar year before you become disabled; you are never required, however, to have more than 40 QCs. Within this broad general rule, there are other specific rules for determining insured status depending on the age you become disabled. For example, if you are over age 31 when you become disabled, you must have 20 quarters of coverage out of the 40 preceding calendar quarters. This is referred to as the 20/40 rule. Simply put, if you have done significant work in five of the last ten years, then you likely have satisfied this requirement. A lower QC requirement applies if you become disabled before age 31; yet another requirement applies if you become disabled before age 24.

Have you worked recently enough?

In addition to the QC requirement, you must establish that you became disabled before your "date last insured." For most people with a steady work record, insured status lapses approximately five years after work ceases.

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As this brief review demonstrates, the non-disability requirements for North Carolina SSDI benefits are complicated. If you have questions about your eligibility or if your application for North Carolina disability benefits was denied based on your "insured status," we can help. Please contact us if you would like to talk about your situation.