When you work and contribute to FICA with your employer, you are registered in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. As with most insurance plans, this government-run scheme has a start date (day first insured) and an end date when you and your employer stop paying premiums. Your last date of insurance corresponds to the last day on which you can file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits.
In general, you meet the employment requirement for Social Security Disability Insurance if you worked for at least five out of the last ten years preceding the date on which you claimed for benefits. Your last date of insurance is the date you are no longer eligible. If you worked full-time for ten years or more, your last date of insurance is typically five years after you left your previous employer.
Due to the fact that everyone has a last date of insurance, it is preferable to make a disability claim early rather than waiting to see if the disability improves. If you believe your disability will last more than a year or is life threatening, you should file for Social Security Disability benefits. Alternatively, you can file a notice of intent to claim, which establishes the date of disability onset prior to your last day of insurance, without initiating the Social Security Disability approval procedure.
Your last date of insurance has no bearing on your eligibility for SSI, which is determined by your financial needs rather than the credits earned while contributing to FICA. However, because those who qualify for SSDI receive a higher rate of Social Security Disability benefits than those who qualify for SSI alone, it is in your best interest to be aware of your date of last insurance and to ensure that any potential disability claims you may be able to pursue are filed prior to your date of last insurance.