When referring to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, many people confuse the actual meaning of the term “Date First Insured”. Contrary to what some may believe, an individual's Date First Insured has nothing to do with whether or not they medically qualify for Social Security Disability payments. Instead, the term “Date First Insured” refers to the date that a person is first able to be insured under the Social Security program.
When an individual obtains employment and earns wages, he or she pays into the Social Security system through FICA premiums, which are automatically deducted from their paychecks. This does not mean, however, that an individual becomes eligible for disability benefits from day one of paying these FICA premiums. In most cases, a person must work for five of the last ten years before being able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
When an individual files a claim for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at whether or not the individual is insured under the SSDI program. This is determined by looking at the Date First Insured. This date will determine whether or not the applicant has worked long enough and paid enough into the FICA system to qualify for SSDI benefits. If the applicant has not been working long enough to not qualify for SSDI benefits, that applicant will not be approved for SSDI payments no matter how severe their disability may be.
If an Social Security Disability applicant does not qualify for SSDI payments because they have not yet worked long enough or paid enough into the FICA system to reach their Date First Insured, they may be able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which is a needs-based disability program. For SSI benefits, the Date First Insured does not play a factor in determining program eligibility.