SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home704. Elapsed Years Defined

704.1 What are elapsed years?

Under the usual formula, “elapsed years” begin with those calendar years after 1950, or after you turn 21, if this is later and end with the year before first eligibility (or death if earlier).

704.2 How does SSA determine elapsed years for retirement insurance benefits?

For retirement insurance benefit purposes, elapsed years are those calendar years after 1950 up to the year you turn 62.

Example: An insured worker turned 62 on December 2, 1994, and filed his application for retirement insurance benefits on January 3, 1995. There are 40 elapsed years, counting the years from age 22 through 1993. The number of “computation years” is 35 (40 minus 5).

704.3 How does SSA determine elapsed years for survivors' insurance benefits?

For survivors' insurance benefit purposes, elapsed years are those calendar years after 1950 up to either: (1) the year of death; or (2) the year of attainment of age 62, whichever is earlier.

Determining elapsed years for survivors' insurance benefits (year of death). An insured worker died on November 3, 1994, at the age of 59. The widow filed a claim for mother's benefits on November 10, 1994. There are 37 elapsed years beginning with 1957 (age 22) through 1993. There are 32 computation years (37 minus 5).

Determining elapsed years for survivors' insurance benefits (attainment of age 62). An insured worker turned 62 in October 1993 and died on September 4, 1995. His widow filed for widow's insurance benefits on October 1, 1995. The elapsed years end the year before the year in which the worker attained age 62. There are 40 elapsed years beginning with 1953 through 1992. There are 35 computation years (40 minus 5).

704.4 How does SSA determine elapsed years for disability insurance benefits?

For disability insurance benefit purposes, elapsed years are those calendar years after 1950 up to either:

  1. The year your waiting period for disability insurance benefits begins (see §502); or

  2. If there is no waiting period, up to the year of your first month of entitlement.

The year you reach age 62 and later years are not counted as elapsed years. Also, whole or partial years within a period of disability are not normally counted as elapsed years. However, we can count them if your PIA would be higher if they were counted or if your insured status is affected by not counting them.

Example: An insured woman turned 50 in January 1995 and is found entitled to disability insurance benefits. It is determined that her waiting period began on March 1, 1995. The elapsed years run from 1967 (age 22) through 1994 and total 28. The number of computation years is 23 (28/5 = 5 and 28-5 =23).

Last Revised: Mar. 1, 2004