Contrary to many individual’s conceptions, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an insurance program. FICA premiums are automatically deducted from an employee’s paycheck (with contributions also made by the employer). An individual must work (in most cases) at least five years out of the last ten years in order to qualify for SSDI. The date first insured is the date used in the Social Security Disability process when the disabled worker first qualifies to be covered under SSDI.
The date first insured should not be confused with the date of acceptance or the original onset of disability date. The date first insured does not qualify anyone for Social Security Disability benefits in and of itself. Rather, the date first insured establishes that the worker has worked and paid into FICA premiums long enough to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, should he or she become disabled.
In some cases, a worker may qualify for Social Security Disability if he/she files a disability claim before the date first insured, as long as he/she later qualifies. An example of this would be when a person files an intent to claim disability due to an injury, yet continues to work. If the condition later worsens, and he/she is no longer able to work due to his disability he/she may be able to qualify for SSDI based on the original onset date because he/she became insured, even if the date first insured is after the initial onset of his/her disability.
A Social Security Disability representative can help sort out the finer case details (like date first insured) to be aware of when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Because SSDI is an insurance program, individuals have both a date first insured and a date last insured, leaving a window in which one must file for any Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Eligibility for SSI, which is based on need rather than premiums paid, is not directly affected by either of these dates, though it may be indirectly affected by one’s ability to draw SSDI based on his/her date first insured.