Most people do not know in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, they need to earn work credits to be insured. The disability program administered by SSA is an actual insurance program where workers pay into the system for possible benefits if they have a severe mental or physical condition which keeps them from working.
And, just like any insurance benefit, once you stop paying your premiums, you begin to lose coverage. In fact, as you stop working and paying into the disability system, after about five years, you can no longer qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits unless you can show your disability began before your coverage ended.
This is why your Date of Last Insured (DLI) is so important if you have not worked in a few years. If you allege you became disabled after this date, then you will not qualify for SSDI and will only be able to potentially qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If you have not worked in some time and you need to file for disability benefits, here are some things you should do to make sure your case is not denied for lack of work credits or your Date of Last Insured (DLI) expiring.
1. Go to your local office and request a print out of your work credits. Ask a representative to assist you in determining when your DLI would be.
2. If you have been disabled before that time, make sure you allege an onset date before that time. For example, if your DLI is December 31, 2015, make sure you allege your onset date before that time...November, 2015.
3. Don't just pick a random date just to say you were disabled before your DLI. Look back at your medical records and attempt to show where it stated you had the conditions you are alleging that keep you from working. You will need to have strong medical evidence showing you actually were disabled prior to your DLI. In other words, you should have been seeking medical attention at that time to show a diagnosis from your doctor. If you lack medical records before your DLI, then you will not be able to show you became disabled prior to being uninsured.
4. If your DLI was more than 12 to 24 months ago, be prepared for this process to take a long time. You will likely need to go before an Administrative Law Judge to hear your case. For most people, their disability case will likely take two years or more to resolve.
5. Remember, not only do you need to show you were disabled prior to your DLI, you still need to show you are disabled now. Don't just stop going to the doctor, you will need to show your disability is ongoing.
We hope this helps. If you are a claimant seeking Social Security disability benefits and you live in Texas or California, please always feel free to call us at: (888) 780-9125.