Why Your “Date Last Insured” is Crucial in Social Security Disability Benefits

In the world of Social Security, your date last insured plays a major factor in whether you qualify for the benefits program. Date last insured (DLI) refers to the last date you are eligible to receive Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). In order to receive SSDI, you must pass the “recent work test.” This means that you need to have worked the past 5 out of 10 years. More specifically, you must have worked 20 of the last 40 quarters.

How much you can get is based on work history:

A quarter of Coverage (QC) is the basic unit for determining whether a worker is insured under the Social Security program. QC if often used interchangeably with “Social Security credit” or even just “credit.” Each year you are able to earn up to 4 quarters of coverage. The earnings required for a quarter of coverage are different each year. In 2014 the earnings will be $1,200.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits:

When you apply for Social Security disability benefits you must meet technical and medical requirements to qualify for the program. To medically qualify for the program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine if you have a physical or mental impairment that meets their definition of a disability. However, before you even get to the point in your application where SSA determines your medical eligibility, they will first check to see if you “technically” qualify for the program. To be eligible (or to technically qualify), you must have paid Social Security taxes AND you must have earned a certain amount of money in the past 10 years.

Why DLI is so important:

An individual’s date last insured is an important consideration from both the medical and the technical standpoint of your case. Technically, you must have enough quarters of coverage to even have a DLI date. Medically, you must show you became disabled prior to your date last insured. If you apply for SSDI benefits after your DLI date has expired, you must prove that you became disabled prior to the expiration of your DLI date. Your “proof” usually comes in the form of medical treatment.

An individual’s date last insured is similar to car insurance. You are covered under the program up until a certain date, then after that date, you are no longer eligible. If you feel you are disabled and unable to work, do not hesitate in filing your application. Many times I have seen clients wait to file for benefits after their DLI date has expired. Their rationale is that even though they stopped working, they held out hope they would someday be able to return to work full time. Sometimes that day never comes, and the client finds themselves stuck without a solution. Don’t let too much time elapse, so you no longer qualify for the program.

Don’t let this situation happen to you. If you think you are disabled, call a trusted Social Security disability attorney who can help you apply for benefits before your insurance runs out.

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