Many of my clients ask questions about their eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Like many other insurance programs, there is a date when your coverage expires, and you must prove to the provider (in this case, Social Security) that the claim occurred before the insurance has ended. With SSDI, that date is based on your work history and can be in either the past or the future. This is known as your Date Last Insured (DLI).
Your DLI is established by working over a period of time. A general rule of thumb is that you must have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years (20 of the last 40 quarters) in order to have a DLI that has not yet expired. You must be contributing to Social Security through FICA taxes during these quarters to be eligible. The specific number of credits needed varies by your age. If you would like to find out your DLI, you can contact Social Security directly.
Many of my clients ask me why their DLI is important. In my experience, cases are won or lost based on how much time has occurred since the DLI has expired. A DLI in the past (known as a “remote” DLI) can make a claim difficult to win because the Social Security Administration (SSA) may only consider evidence of medical treatment prior to that date. Even if your condition worsens after the DLI passes, Social Security may not find you disabled. If you are diagnosed with a new condition after the DLI passes, Social Security will not consider it as part of your SSDI claim.
Therefore, I recommend that anyone seeking Social Security Disability apply for benefits as soon as they believe they are unable to work due to medical conditions. Too often, I’ve seen someone wait to file an application only to realize their DLI has expired. Naturally, they have difficulty understanding why they can’t receive disability benefits even though they have worked most of their lives. While they may still be eligible to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, these monthly benefits may be much lower than what they could have received under SSDI. I recommend that claimants apply for both programs to ensure that they receive any benefits they deserve.
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Author: Scott Lewis