IM-#118 August 2, 2000, IM-#142 November 6, 1998


PURPOSE:  Some immigrants must have 40 qualifying quarters of coverage under Title II of the Social Security Act or be credited with such quarters to be eligible for assistance.  Use this guide to determine if an immigrant has the required 40 qualifying quarters.  These guidelines were provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA).


Applicant: This is the individual applying for public assistance benefits.

Covered Earnings: These are wages or self-employment income requiring payment of FICA/SECA (Social Security) taxes.

LAG Quarters: Current year Quarters and the year preceding it that may not appear in the qualifying quarter (QQ) history pattern because the employer report or self-employment tax return has not been processed. This could be up to seven (7) quarters depending when a request for QQ history is processed.

Noncovered earnings: These are wages or self-employment income that does not require payment of FICA/SECA (Social Security) taxes.

Number Holder: An individual who has a Social Security number assigned to him/her.

Qualifying Quarter (QQ): Credit for a required amount of covered earnings or noncovered earnings assigned to a calendar quarter for years beginning 1937.

Quarter: A period of three calendar months ending March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31.

Quarter of Coverage (QC): Credit for covered earnings assigned to a calendar quarter.

QQ History: A display of qualifying quarters by quarter and year.

1105.098.05 Overview

IM-#118 August 2, 2000

Before requesting quarters of coverage information:

  1. Determine whose quarters to request. Countable quarters of coverage can include quarters earned by the immigrant, the immigrant's parents, and the immigrant's spouse. Refer to the Food Stamp Manual Sections 1105.010.15.05 and 1105.010.15.10 for the rules on deeming quarters of coverage.
  2. Always determine quarters based on the immigrant's own earnings first.  This simplifies verification because many immigrants have sufficient quarters on their own record, thus eliminating the need for a QQ history for the parent(s)/spouse of the immigrant.
  3. Establish parent/spouse relationship if quarters are being deemed.
  4. Obtain a Consent for Release of Information from each individual (other than the individual signing the application) from whom the quarters are being requested.  The immigrant's parent/spouse completes Form SSA-3288, Consent for Release of Information, if the immigrant does not have sufficient QQ history.  A copy of Form SSA-3288 and an example of how the form must be completed is illustrated and filed after Section 1105.099.00 Appendix C in the hard copy Food Stamp Manual.  See Section 1105.098.10 for further information.


  5. Determine if any of the individuals whose quarters will be used in the 40 QQ determination received a Federal means-tested public benefit in January 1997 or any month thereafter.  SSI is an example of a means-tested public benefit.  SSI payment information is part of the IIVE query.  Use this information when reviewing the output to determine whether quarters in years after 1996 can be included.

1105.098.10  Consent for Release of Information

IM-#118 August 2, 2000

The Social Security Administration requires consent for release of information from each individual (other than the individual signing the application) for whom quarters are being requested before IIVE can be accessed requesting the parent's/spouse's qualifying quarters history.  This consent is required even if the parent/spouse is in the same EU as the immigrant for whom quarters of coverage is being established.

IMPORTANT: If someone refuses to cooperate and will not complete the consent form, you cannot use IIVE to obtain the qualifying quarters history.

When someone refuses or cannot be located (after reasonable efforts are made to contact) to authorize release of information for QQ history, use Form SSA-513 REQUEST FOR QUARTERS OF COVERAGE (QC) HISTORY BASED ON RELATIONSHIP to request this information from the Social Security Administration.  In these instances only the pertinent quarters (quarters that might be used) can be disclosed to you.  The form and instructions for completion are located at the end of these instructions and can be duplicated as needed if supplies are not available in your office.


IM-#118 August 2, 2000


STEP 1: Review the 40 qualifying quarter response for the individual for whom quarters are being established.  Do the codes that represent QQs add up to 40 or more?

If YES, the immigrant meets the 40 quarters requirement.
If NO, are there current or prior year earnings (LAG earnings) that are not shown in the QQ pattern?
If YES, use the chart in Section 1105.098.20.00 (#1) to determine the qualifying quarters.
If the total now equals 40 or more quarters, the applicant meets the 40 quarters requirement.
If NO, go to step 2.
STEP 2: Review the 40 qualifying quarter response for individuals from whom quarters are being deemed.  Review the periods that can be used (during the marriage for a spouse and under age 18 for a parent).  When you add the codes that represent a qualifying quarter on these records to the immigrant's record, do they equal 40 or more?
If YES, the immigrant meets the 40 quarters requirement.
If NO, develop LAG earnings as in Step 1 if applicable.
Does the total when these are added equal 40 or more?
If YES, the immigrant meets the 40 quarters requirement.
If NO go to step 3.

STEP 3: Review the 40 qualifying quarters response for all individuals from whom quarters are being deemed:

Review the field MINIMUM NUMBER QCs 1937-1950.
If these can be used, add them to the total.  Does the total equal 40 or more?
If YES, the immigrant meets the 40 quarters requirement.
If NO, continue.
Review the field MAXIMUM NUMBER OF QCs 1937-1950 and look at the QC pattern for codes # and Z.
If the maximum number and/or the codes # and Z will equal 40 or more when added to the total, refer the case to SSA as described in Section 1105.098.20.00.
If the total still does not equal at least 40, continue.
Review the QQ pattern with the immigrant.  If the immigrant believes that quarters are missing, develop the issue as described in Section 1105.098.20.00.
If the immigrant believes that the records are correct, he/she cannot meet the 40 quarters requirement.
The following codes represent a qualifying quarter from covered earnings (QCs) except codes “F, U, and W” which are shown as QQs. This will be important in handling discrepancies.  See IMNL section 1105.098.20.00.

  A - Agricultural QC
  C - Wage QC ( This is the most common quarter code)
  D - Military QC
  F - Medicare qualified government employment wages QC
  G - Gift QC
  J - Japanese Internment QC
  M - Military QC
  R - Railroad QC
  S - Self employment QC
  U - Noncovered Credit QC
  W - Noncovered Credit derived from the sum of covered and noncovered earnings QC
  * - A covered QC


An immigrant and spouse applied for food stamps. The immigrant entered the United States in 1986.  The immigrant's spouse entered prior to that time.  They married in June 1991.  It is determined that a QQ history for both SSNs is needed for the applicant to meet the 40 QQ requirement.  Obtain a Consent for Release of Information from the spouse and access IIVE.  Following is a display of QQ history for the applicant and the applicant's spouse.  Each individual's quarters display with the first quarter for the year on the left and the fourth quarter of the year end on the right.

Applicant Applicant's Spouse

In this example, the immigrant has a combination of wage and agricultural quarters totaling 27.  It appears that the immigrant's spouse has enough quarters, which when added to the immigrant's quarters will equal 40.  However, only the spouse's quarters earned during the marriage can be qualifying quarters.  The spouse has 17 quarters during the marriage.  When added to the immigrant's quarters the total exceeds the 40 quarters requirement.  Based on this example, the immigrant and spouse meet the 40 quarters requirement.

In this case, you do not need to reconcile the “Z” quarters (1989) with SSA because they are outside of the marriage period.  You also do not need to develop the LAG quarters because they are not needed to reach the 40 quarters requirement.


IM-#118 August 2, 2000

    SSA will NOT develop LAG earnings for FSD because they will appear on SSA records when they are processed.  Because these quarters represent recent work activity, the immigrant should have acceptable evidence of earnings readily available.

    When the individual needs LAG quarters from the previous or current year, accept forms such as W-2 and/or W-2c, employer prepared wage statements or an IRS copy of the individual's tax return. Credit qualified quarters to the applicant using the covered employment chart in Section 1105.098.20.10  Assume the earnings are covered employment if the proof submitted indicates FICA taxes were withheld.


    Whenever the applicant or other individual whose QQs are being credited to the immigrant does not agree with the QQ pattern provided by the IIVE query, it will be necessary to reconcile the discrepancy.

    When the individual believes that the work he/she performed was in covered employment, or Medicare-only government wages, and the earnings do not fall within the LAG period, SSA is responsible for investigating the discrepancy and correcting the record.

    Refer all covered employment or Medicare-only Federal, State, or local wage cases to SSA as follows:

    If the individual indicates that he/she used more than one SSN or allowed others to use his/her SSN, the individual will need to contact his/her local Social Security office to resolve the issue or call 1-800-772-1213 to set up an appointment.  Be sure to tell the individual to take a copy of the QC pattern, identifying information, and any proof of earnings they may have to the SSA office with them.

    If you need to develop a Z indicator for year(s) 1977 or earlier or a # sign indicator from the QC pattern, refer the case to SSA Office of Central Records Operations (OCRO) for investigation using Form SSA-512.  This form is located at the end of these guidelines and should be duplicated as needed.  Complete the SSA-512 including the following information:

      o  Name,
      o  Social Security Number,
      o  Date of Birth,
      o  Year or Years in Question,
      o  Return Address, and
      o  Copy of the Output From the Query.

    A separate development request is needed for each SSN to be investigated.

    Mail the request along with the copy of the IIVE response to:

      SSA, OCRO
      P.O. Box 17750
      Baltimore, MD  21235-0001

    If you need to follow up on the status of your request, 45 days after your original request, request another QQ history query.  If the entry has been updated, the # or Z will be overlaid with N or C.  If the QQ pattern has not been updated after 60 days, call 1-800-775-7802 (SSA-OCRO, Earnings Discrepancy).

    If the individual indicates there are missing quarters or code “Z” is 1978 or later, have the immigrant, if he or she is the number holder of the SSN, complete an SSA-7008 Request for Correction of Earnings. (This form can be obtained from your local Social Security Office). Proof of earnings such as W-2s, pay slip/stub, tax return or statement from the employer should be attached.  On top of the SSA-7008 write “Welfare Reform.”


    If the immigrant is not the number holder, tell the immigrant that the number holder must complete the SSA-7008 and provide proof of earnings as shown above.

    All SSA-7008s along with the documentation should be mailed to:

      SSA, OCRO
      P.O. Box 17752
      Baltimore, MD  21235-0001

    If the applicant has no documentation, he/she should contact his/her local Social Security Office or call 1-800-772-1213 to arrange an appointment.

    NOTE:  Occasionally SSA will not be able to verify and credit covered wages and self-employment.  This is because SSA's development requirements are designed to support strict insured status rules and Title II entitlement determinations.  If SSA cannot verify and credit covered wages and self-employment and you believe sufficient evidence exists to credit the wages or self-employment, use your best judgement whether to credit the wages or self-employment as noncovered qualifying quarters.

1105.098.20.10 Noncovered Employment

IM-#118 August 2, 2000

When an applicant cannot meet the 40 qualifying quarters requirement using covered earnings or Medicare-only Federal, State, or local wages but alleges that he/she had additional work that is not documented by the IIVE query, follow the outline below to establish the existence of the earnings and convert them to qualifying quarters.

STEP 1: Review the IIVE response with the immigrant to determine whether qualifying quarters are missing from the record.
If QQs are not missing from the response, make the determination based on the information already obtained.
If QQs are missing from the response, obtain sufficient information from the individual to use the chart following this step to determine whether the alleged earnings are covered or noncovered.  Some examples of questions you might ask are:

The COVERED EMPLOYMENT CHART should be used as a guide.  The Social Security provisions are very complex and the chart may not include all exceptions in the Social Security Act.

It is important to note that 97 percent of all employment is now covered under the Social Security Act.

STEP 2: After you are satisfied that the noncovered earnings  exist use the following chart to determine the number of QQs that can be credited.  You can combine covered and noncovered earnings for a year.  The dollar amount indicates the amount needed to credit one qualifying quarter beginning with 1978.
Covered Employment Chart
Year Coverage Began
Employment in the United States--except as indicated 1937
Agriculture Farm Labor, including domestics 1951
Domestic Service--over $50 a calendar quarter (through 1994) 1951
Domestic Service--over $1000 per year 1995
Federal Government 
Civilians not under civil service retirement
Uniformed Services
Federal Government-new hires--compulsory 1984
Homeworkers ($50 a quarter; State license) 1951
Homeworkers ($50 a quarter; no license needed) 1955
State and local government--elective
Not under a State or local retirement system
Under a State or local retirement system
State and local Government--compulsory for non-members of employees' retirement system 7/2/1991
Nonprofit organizations--elective 1951
Nonprofit organizations--compulsory 1984
Ministers (covered as self-employed) 1937
Railroads--service less than 10 years covered by transfer of credits 1951
Tips--Cash Tips of $20 ormore in a month from one employer 1966
Vow of poverty members of religious orders--if order elects to cover lay employees and members of the order  
Employment outside the United States Year Coverage Began
Puerto Rico 1951
Virgin Islands 1951
On American ships and aircraft 1951
Guam 1961
American Samoa 1961
Self-Employment--except as indicated 1951
Farmers 1955
Materially-participating farmers 1956
Professional groups excluding lawyers, dentists, doctors, and other medical groups 1955
Lawyers, dentists and other medical groups excluding doctors of medicine  1956
Doctors of Medicine 1965
American citizens employed in the United States by government (covered as self-employed) 1961
Direct sellers (house to house salespersons) 1983
Real estate agents 1983
Newspaper and shopping news distributors 1994
If you determine the earnings are from covered employment or Federal, State or local Medicare-only wages, then go to Section 1105.098.20.00 for development guidelines.
If you determine the earnings are from other noncovered employment, then you must obtain satisfactory evidence that the earnings exist before you can use the earnings to credit QQs.  Follow the agency's guidelines for developing eligibility requirements and evidentiary proof when making a decision.  However, the following list suggests a means to obtain evidence necessary to credit QQs for an immigrant.

1105.098.20.15 Evidence to Credit Qualifying Quarters

IM-#118 August 2, 2000

The following examples of evidence which can be used to establish earnings are not all inclusive.  You may become aware of additional evidence during your contacts with the applicant.  Remember YOU must be satisfied that the evidence presented supports the existence of earnings and the amount of the earnings.

1105.098.20.20 SSA Earnings Chart

IM-#163 November 11, 2000, IM-#118 August 2, 2000

Use the following chart to determine the number of qualifying quarters of earnings that can be credited toward an immigrant's 40 quarters.  The dollar amount indicates the amount of earnings needed to credit one (1) qualifying quarter beginning with 1978.

 1978..........$250     1990..........$520
 1979..........$260     1991..........$540
 1980..........$290     1992..........$570
 1981..........$310     1993..........$590
 1982..........$340     1994..........$620
 1983..........$370     1995..........$630
 1984..........$390     1996..........$640
 1985..........$410     1997..........$670
 1986..........$440     1998..........$700
 1987..........$460     1999..........$740
 1988..........$470     2000..........$780
 1989..........$500     2001..........$830

To determine the number of quarters earned in a specific year, divide the earnings for that year by the dollar amount shown for that year.  For the current year, count the quarter as soon as the individual has earnings in that quarter equal to the amount shown on the chart.  A quarter in which the immigrant received a Federal means-tested public benefit cannot count as a qualifying quarter.

The maximum number of quarters that can be credited in a calendar year is four quarters, regardless of earnings.  Examples of how to calculate quarters are:

 EXAMPLE 1:  An immigrant earned $2,090 in 1995.  $2,090 divided by $630 = 3 with $200 remaining.  The individual has 3 qualifying quarters from 1995.  The remainder of $200 is not enough earnings to credit a fourth quarter.
 EXAMPLE 2:  An immigrant earned $3,000 in January 1998.  $3,000 divided by $700 = 4 with $200 remaining.  As of February 1998, the individual has 4 qualifying quarters.
 EXAMPLE 3:  An immigrant earned $15,000 in 1997.  The individual has 4 qualifying quarters.  $15,000 divided by $670 = 22 with $260 remaining, but the individual can be credited with only 4 quarters for the calendar year.
 EXAMPLE 4:  An immigrant earned $1,500 during the January, February and March quarter of 1998.  The immigrant received Temporary Assistance for January and February 1998.  The immigrant has zero (0) qualifying quarters from this time period because s/he received a Federal means-tested public benefit during the quarter.
To assign quarters before 1978: