I think it means "now", as in are they receiving SS payments today.
I'd disagree. I think they want to know if your parent has or is in some way contributing to the SS system - whether it be through payroll taxes/employer contribution or self employment contributions. If contributing now or in the past - they would then be covered by SS.
There are some instances in which people do not pay in to, and therefore are not covered by, SS. They are typically covered under other plans (Fed Employ Retirement System, Railroad Retirement, etc).
I'm calling them tonight about something else - I can confirm this with them and let you know.