574 Quarters of Coverage

574.1 Social Security Quarter of Coverage

Quarters of coverage to qualify for Social Security benefits and Medicare are earned when employees have performed a certain quantity of work at a job covered by Social Security. A Social Security quarter of coverage (SSQC) is any calendar quarter (a 3–month period beginning the first day of January, April, July, and October) in which employees, prior to 1978, were paid at least $50 in wages for work that was covered by Social Security. From 1978, employees have been credited with one quarter of coverage (up to a maximum of 4 annually) for a specified amount of earnings. Each year, under a formula in the Social Security Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines the amount of earnings that will equal a quarter of coverage. The amounts needed to earn a quarter of coverage will be determined by November 1 of each preceding year and are published in the Federal Register. This figure is based on increases in the average total wages of all workers.

574.2 Federal Quarter of Coverage (Medicare)

574.21 CSRS Employees

Section 278 of Public Law 97–248, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, extended Medicare coverage to federal/postal employees covered by the CSRS and required them to pay the Hospital Insurance portion of the FICA tax beginning January 1, 1983.

574.22 Earned Federal Quarters of Coverage

Through payment of the tax, those employees earn actual federal quarters of coverage (FQCs) for periods of service after January 1983 in the same manner that Social Security quarters of coverage are earned.

574.23 Deemed (Credited) FQCs

Deemed FQCs are quarters of coverage deemed to have occurred before January 1, 1983. Any person employed by the federal government/Postal Service before January 1, 1983 who also worked at any time during January 1983 may receive deemed FQCs for each quarter of federal/postal service performed before January l, 1983, provided the quarter:

  1. Was not covered under the regular Social Security System and
  2. Would have qualified as a Social Security quarter of coverage had the employee’s federal/postal employment been covered by the Social Security Act.
574.24 Combining Earned and Deemed FQCs

Total FQCs (deemed and actual) may be used alone, or in combination with regular Social Security quarters of coverage (SSQCs), in order to meet the number of quarters required for Medicare coverage.

574.25 Establishing Deemed FQCs
574.251 Using OPM Form 1528

If an employee would not be insured using only FQCs earned after January 1983 or in combination with SSQCs, evidence must be provided to the SSA in order to establish deemed FQCs. The most viable method of establishing this evidence is by use of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Form 1528, Notification of Earnings for Medicare Eligibility, which provides a listing of gross earnings, as shown on postal records, for a maximum of 10 calendar years prior to 1983.

The Eagan ASC will complete and certify, in triplicate, OPM Form 1528 for all career employees who were active on the rolls in January 1983, but have subsequently separated, or are still employed and are old enough to qualify for Medicare (age 65 or older). The original will be given to the employee, and two copies will be permanently retained in the employee’s official personnel folder (OPF). OPM Form 1528 may be presented to HCFA in order to receive credit for deemed FQCs.

574.252 Using Other Evidence

In addition to OPM Form 1528, the following constitute acceptable proof of pre–1983 earnings:

  1. W–2 forms.
  2. Pay slips.
  3. A signed statement from the employing agency certifying to the amount of wages paid each year as shown on the agency’s records.
574.253 By Special Request

If none of the above proofs can be obtained, or where less than 10 years of earnings history is available, the HCFA may request pre–1983 earnings information from:

ST LOUIS MO 63118–4126

574.3 Insured Status

A person must be insured under the Social Security Program before retirement, survivors, or disability insurance benefits can be paid to the person or the person’s family. Different sets of requirements must be met for each type of benefit. Insured status is determined by the number of quarters of coverage credited to a person’s Social Security record as follows:

  1. Fully Insured. At least one quarter of coverage for each calendar year elapsing after 1950 or after age 21, whichever is later, and up to the earliest of age 62, death, or disability. The requirements range from a minimum of six to a maximum of forty quarters of coverage and are dependent upon the worker’s year of birth, or year or age of death, or disability. A fully insured status is only one requirement for determining whether a particular type of benefit will be paid or provided. It does not mean that all types of benefits can be obtained on the person’s Social Security record, nor does it affect the amount of benefits that can be paid.
  2. Currently Insured. Six quarters of coverage during the thirteen–quarter period ending the quarter in which the worker either dies or becomes entitled to disability benefits, whichever is earlier. Currently insured status is sufficient for payment of a limited number of benefits.
  3. Disability Insured. Fully insured and at least twenty quarters of coverage in the last forty quarters through the quarter in which disability occurs. A special insured status is needed to qualify for disability insurance benefits or to establish a period of disability. A person disabled because of blindness need only acquire fully insured status. Workers disabled before age 31 must meet less stringent requirements.

574.4 Coverage Requirements for Benefits

Quarters of coverage required in order to be fully insured for Social Security retirement and Medicare benefits:


Year of Birth

Quarters of Coverage

































After 1928