Did you know you are paying premiums into Social Security Disability Insurance? Some of my clients do not realize that they are paying into the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program through FICA taxes when they work. When your employer withholds FICA taxes from your paycheck, a portion of that withholding is used to fund Social Security disability.

It is important to realize that this is an insurance program which is similar to many other insurance programs. It covers you in the event you are unable to work due to a disabling condition. Further, you must have a condition that has lasted 12 months or is expected to last 12 months. You must prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your condition is severe enough to prevent you from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

Like many insurance plans, your insured status can eventually expire. For SSDI, the date your eligibility expires is known as your Date Last Insured (DLI). If you prove to the SSA that you are disabled on or before your DLI, you can receive ongoing disability benefits. You are not eligible for SSDI benefits if you become disabled after your DLI.

Some of these concepts can be difficult to grasp, so I sometimes tell my clients to think about it like car insurance. For example, if you have an accident in your car after your insurance expires, you may not be reimbursed for the damages.

I let my clients know that the SSDI program is not a hand-out. You have worked hard and paid your premiums, and you are entitled to these payments if you are disabled. It may be in your best interest to apply as soon as you think you are disabled because your time can be limited due to these time constraints.