The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program operates like an insurance policy. While you are working (at a job that pays into the Social Security system through FICA taxes), the FICA taxes you pay go toward your “premium.” When you stop working, your coverage stops after five years. The day your coverage lapses is called your “date last insured” (DLI). To receive SSDI benefits, you must prove that you were disabled while you were still insured. It’s a complicated and demanding process. You’ll need help from an experienced Social Security benefits attorney.
For example, if you were disabled in a traffic accident in April 2005 and were no longer able to work, your DLI would be in April 2010. Even if you are visibly disabled, your claim will not be approved unless you can prove you were disabled before April 2010. (Be sure to check with Social Security to verify the exact date you were last insured.) Your DLI does is not a time limit for when you can apply for benefits, but whenever you apply, you must be able to show that your disability began during the period of time you were insured. Nevertheless, don’t wait to apply for SSDI benefits; doctors’ offices often purge old records, and Social Security uses medical records in the decision-making process. A good Social Security benefits lawyer can help you compile the documents and medical records you’ll need.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program has different criteria for eligibility. Even if you are no longer eligible for SSDI benefits, you may still be able to qualify for SSI benefits. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can help you determine if you’re eligible and can help you with the paperwork and procedures. If you’ve been denied once, a good disability lawyer can pursue an appeal for you. If you believe that you qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, don’t wait; speak with an experienced Social Security disability attorney right away.