March 14, 2019

Social Security Disability and Your Date Last Insured

I have found the concept of a Date Last Insured (DLI) can be difficult for my clients to understand.  In my practice as an Indiana Social Security Disability lawyer, I may need to explain this concept to my clients several times to for them to fully grasp what it means.  I understand the difficulty in accepting that your eligibility for disability insurance benefits has expired when you are struggling with a severe disability and find you cannot take care of yourself or your family.  In this blog, I will attempt to explain why your DLI is important and how it is established.

Your Date last Insured, or DLI, is established by acquiring work credits.  You establish work credits by working and paying into the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, also known as FICA taxes, to the United States Government.  When you receive your paycheck stub, you can see the amount of FICA taxes being deducted.  By paying this tax, you are essentially paying premiums to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits should you become disabled. 

Although many factors can come into play, your DLI generally expires around five years after you stop working.  Another general rule is that to establish a DLI, you must have worked full time for at least 5 out of the last 10 years.  If you have recently stopped working due to a disabling condition, your DLI is usually in the future. However, if you stopped working many years ago, your DLI may have already passed, which is sometimes referred to as a “remote DLI.” 

So, why is your DLI so important?  Your eligibility to receive SSDI benefits is determined by your DLI.   You must prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and/or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that you became disabled before your disability insurance expired.  You can see how this might be difficult when your DLI is far in the past and the ALJ or SSA will not consider any of your new severe disabilities after the DLI.  That is why it is so important to apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as you believe you are unable to work and stop working. 

If the concept of your DLI is still unclear, I will try to explain it in a way many people are more familiar with.  At some point in most of our lives, we have had a car and obtained insurance on that car.  Social Security Disability Insurance is like any other insurance in that if you quit paying the premiums, your insurance runs out.  So, in the car example, let’s say you quit paying your automobile insurance and you have an accident.  The insurance company will not pay to get your car fixed, right?  They may not be disputing that you had an accident, but that your accident occurred when you were not covered.  Social Security Disability Insurance is the same way.  If you become disabled after your DLI runs out, you will not get disability payments.

I understand the frustration of my clients when they have a severe disability and are unable to work but then find out their disability insurance has expired, and they will not be receiving the help they need.  It should be noted, that there is another program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which does not have the same restriction a DLI can impose.  That is why I encourage my clients to apply for both programs to ensure they receive the disability benefits they qualify for. 

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