When you are employed and you and your employer pay into FICA, you are enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Like most insurance programs, this government-run system has a date in which your coverage begins (date first insured) and, after you and your employer stop paying premiums, a date in which your coverage ends. Your date last insured in the last day on which you may claim Social Security Disability benefits.
Generally speaking, you fulfill the work requirement for Social Security Disability Insurance if you have worked for at least five out of ten years prior to the date on which you applied for Social Security Disability benefits. Your date last insured in the date on which you are no longer eligible. Assuming you worked full time for ten years or more, your date last insured is usually five years after you left your last job.
Since everyone has a date last insured, it’s better to file a disability claim early rather than waiting to see if the disability improves. If you suspect that your disability may last longer than a year or may be life threatening, you should file a Social Security Disability claim. Alternately, you can file an intent to claim, which establishes the date of disability onset before your date last insured without actually beginning the Social Security Disability approval process.
Your date last insured does not affect your eligibility for SSI, which is based on your financial needs rather than on the credits you earn while paying into FICA. However, since those qualifying for SSDI generally receive more Social Security Disability benefits than those only qualifying for SSI, it is in your best interests to be aware of your date last insured and to ensure that any potential disability claims which you may be able to pursue are filed before your date last insured.