• Justin S. Raines

What is my “date last insured” for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?

Updated: May 21, 2021


SSDI, also abbreviated SSD or DIB, is a Social Security disability program that pays benefits based on a person’s earnings history. When people work and earn a living, they also pay FICA taxes. These FICA taxes help fund a form of public or government-run insurance. This insurance is not unlike car insurance, which insures people in case they get in a car accident.


But this insurance protects people who become disabled and cannot work due to a severe mental or physical impairment or combination of impairments.


As people work and pay their FICA taxes, they earn credits or quarters of coverage (QCs). People can earn four QCs in a year. The rule of thumb is that a person needs twenty QCs, equal to five years of work, in the last ten years before becoming disabled. Fortunately, younger workers under the age of thirty-one do not need to have as many QCs to become insured for disability benefits.


What happens if a person is insured for SSDI but stops working? Eventually, the person’s “insured status” will expire or lapse. This is like when your car insurance expires because you don’t pay the premiums. If you aren’t working and paying FICA taxes, your insured status will eventually expire.


The first date when a person became insured for SSDI is called the “date first insured” or DFI. The last date on which a person was insured for SSDI is called the “date last insured” or DLI.


These dates are critical to a person’s disability case. If a person becomes disabled after the DFI but on or before the DLI, then the person can receive SSDI benefits. On the other hand, if a person becomes disabled before the DFI or after the DLI, then the person cannot receive SSDI benefits.


If you become disabled and unable to work because of a physical or mental illness or injury, you should apply as soon as possible because the clock is ticking, and your insured status will eventually expire.


If you DLI has already passed, you will need to obtain medical, psychiatric, psychological, and other evidence of your disability from before the DLI to prove that you’re disabled.


If you have a severe physical or mental illness or injury, you should consult with an attorney experienced in Social Security disability for help and advice proving your case.

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