Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

What Is My Date Last Insured?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Nov 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

I got a call yesterday from a client whom Social Security had just approved for benefits.  She had read her decision carefully and

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Wait, Say That Again?

had a question for me.  The judge wrote in his opinion that the client had to show she was disabled as of 12/31/2019. This was her date last insured, or DLI. The client wanted to know if this meant that the benefits she had just started getting would end on the last day of 2019. I assured her that was not the case. She can remain on disability so long as she is unable to work. I understand her confusion. Other clients have asked me the same thing.

Your Date Last Insured Explained

So what is the DLI? Simply put, your DLI is the last day you are eligible for disability benefits. As the judge noted in his decision, you have to show you became disabled before that date. If you become unable to work after that, you are not going to get disability benefits. You could still collect SSI, however, because SSI does not require any work-related eligibility.  SSI, however, is not nearly as good as disability for a variety of reasons covered in other blog posts.

How Does SSA Determine My DLI?

SSA determines your DLI by how long you have worked and paid into the system.  The formula is a bit complicated and it varies by your age. But an easy way to understand it is that the longer you have worked, the longer you will remain eligible. If you have had a long work history before becoming disabled, your DLI should be many years in the future. Keep in mind, however, that there never comes a point when you are permanently eligible (unlike retirement benefits, which require 10 years of work to be "fully insured".) Your DLI is an always-moving target. But, once you stop working, your DLI is going to be fixed in place.  

Don't Wait Too Long To Apply Once You Have Stopped Working

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Do It Now

This can be an issue for people who wait a long time to apply for disability benefits. Many claimants think they are going to get back to work, so they delay applying. This is sensible. But, if these claimants wait too long, they could bump into their DLI.  This suggests that it is prudent to apply for disability benefits right away.  You can always drop your claim if you do get back to work. 

DLI can affect your case in other ways. If your DLI is more than a few years in the past, it will be difficult to show you were unable to work before the DLI passed. It can be hard, for example, to get older medical records. In addition, I find that judges are not all that willing to go back more than a few years when deciding a disability claim.

Keep Working As Long As You Possibly Can

It makes sense to work as long as you can before applying for disability.  One good reason to do so is to keep that DLI well out in front of you.  Doing so will make your life much easier when the time comes that you cannot work and need to apply for disability. If you have questions about when to apply for disability, please let me know. 

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.

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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 20 years.

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Feel free to call with any questions or concerns you have about Social Security disability. I never charge for a consultation. In fact, there is no charge at all until we win your case. Unlike most lawyers, I never charge extra for things like telephone calls or making copies.