SSA Disability or SSI
SSA Disability is an insurance program. To qualify, an individual must have paid the premiums, which are Federal Insurance Contributors Act (FICA) or self- employment taxes. If the individual has not worked for an employer who paid and withheld FICA and has not filed and paid self- employment taxes, then this individual has not paid the premiums and is not insured.
Unlike most private insurance, one does not lose coverage as soon as the premiums stop being paid. An individual is insured under SSA Disability if they have paid into the system for a certain number of quarters in the last five to ten years. The calculations are complicated, but there is a simple principle to follow. Any worker who has become disabled should file with the SSA as soon as possible. Someone who has worked steadily for five years or more will be insured for five years after they stop working. If the person has a less consistent work history, or has periods of work where FICA was not paid, then the “date last insured” may come sooner than five years.
SSI is the program for the poor. Eligibility for this program does not run out because the patient has not been working. However, these benefits are available to individuals who are also receiving SSA Disability if they have little other income. Since neither program is particularly generous, it is not good to allow the insurance to lapse just because SSI is available.