What Determines If You Are Covered for SSDI (Social Security Disability) Benefits - The DLI Issue

I have spoken to many disability claimants who were having problems with their date last insured or DLI. Date last insured is a very difficult concept for many to understand, especially if they have worked most of their life--but have not been able to work for many years.

It is easier to explain date last insured, if you look at it (SSDI) as an insurance program. Social Security Disability is an insurance program and the premiums are paid through payroll taxes. As long as you are working and taxes are being withheld from your payroll check, you are paying your insurance premium. If you are self employed it is important to show some kind of net profit in your business if you want to be insured for Social Security Disability (you have to pay FICA taxes).

I have met many people who been self employed all their lives...who are not able to receive Social Security Disability benefits because they never paid taxes a.k.a. their premiums. In essence, if you never pay into the Social Security system you will not be insured for Social Security Disability.

Even if you have worked and are insured for Social Security Disability, you will not be insured forever. Like other insurance programs, Social Security Disability coverage can lapse when premiums stop being paid. When you stop working, you stop paying your Social Security Disability premiums through payroll tax deductions.

It takes some time for your Social Security Disability insurance to lapse after you stop working but it will end. The date your disability insurance ends is known as the "date last insured", or DLI. The date last insured will always be the last day of a quarter (i.e. March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31). Generally, most individuals are able to keep their insured status for about five years after they stop work or stop paying into the system through their payroll or self-employment taxes.

If you have a date last insured in the past or your date last insured will come before your disability case is resolved, you should make sure to stay focused on your disability claim. This may be your only chance to receive Social Security Disability benefits. It is important to provide disability examiners with whatever information they request and to attend any scheduled consultative examinations required. Disability examiners can deny your disability claim if you do not provide information or you do not attend your consultative examination--without ever looking at your medical information.

If your disability claim is denied, it is especially important to appeal your denial if the decision is past your date last insured or DLI. If your disability claim is denied, it may be a good idea to consider the services of a Social Security Disability attorney or non-attorney representative who can make sure you do not miss your appeal dates.

Should your disability claim have to be appealed to an administrative law judge, your representative can present your disability case in a way that is most favorable to you. Since this could be your last chance to receive Social Security Disability, you should do everything in your power to make sure your disability claim has a positive outcome.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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