Date Last Insured: Everything You Need To Know And How It Affects Your SSD Claim

Picture of a person sitting at a desk working on their computer

If you’re considering applying for SSD benefits, it’s essential to know the date you are last insured. The “Date Last Insured” or DLI plays a vital role in determining eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits, but can be difficult to understand.

What is The Date Last Insured?

When the Social Security Administration refers to an applicant’s Date Last Insured, they are referring to the last work quarter in which the applicant met disability insured status requirements.

Date Last Insured helps the SSA ensure you have fulfilled the work requirement for SSD. In most cases, individuals will qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if they had worked five out of the ten past years before the onset of the disability. Regardless of your disabling condition, your date last insured is one of the first things Social Security looks at when evaluating your claim.

How Does It Affect Filing for Disability Benefits?

What happens before or after your DLI can significantly impact whether or not the Social Security Administration approves SSD claim. Your date last insured defines the deadline for your disability benefits insurance.

In general, if you apply for SSD benefits after your DLI has expired, you’ll need to prove that the onset of your disability was before your DLI.

Your date last insured is an important consideration from both the medical and the technical standpoint of your claim. Technically, you must have had enough quarters of coverage to have a DLI date. Medically, you need to show you became disabled before your date last insured. There is one exception to this rule, however. Some applicants may receive a “protective filing date” before they file a disability application. If the protective filing date is before your DLI, you’ll still be eligible for benefits. You can still file a disability claim even after DLI has expired, although it is always better to do so before.

How Does SSA Calculate Your Date Last Insured?

The SSA calculates an individual’s date last insured based on how many quarters of coverage you earned over your working life and when you stopped working. The most popular method for calculating this date is termed the “20/40” test.

The SSA will look at your earnings record and generally count back 20 covered quarters, and then it will then count forward by 40 quarters (both covered and uncovered). For a person who worked full-time, the DLI is approximately five years after they stopped working. Suppose the person was disabled before they stopped working. In that case, their claim for SSD will presumably be approved because they were covered at the time of the injury or disability.

Is It Possible to Have More Than One DLI?

According to SSA, an applicant can have more than one DLI. For example, if you have suffered blindness, the condition has a DLI of its own. At the same time, you may have a separate DLI for another disability. You may also have more than one DLI if you have the work credits for SSD and are separately covered by Medicare Qualified Government Employee (MQGE) benefits. However, the DLI for one condition will apply to that condition only and can’t be used to claim another disability.

What Do I Do If My Benefits Were Denied Because of My Date Last Insured?

Suppose your claim was denied, and SSA says they did not find that you became disabled before a specific date. In that case, you could very well be in a situation where your DLI could be a barrier to receiving benefits.

SSDI claims are often denied because the applicant became disabled after their DLI expired. Frequently, an applicant’s medical record will not contain enough evidence to show that the onset date was a certain number of years ago. Since most disabilities do not have a singular event that causes them, establishing an onset date can be complex, and medical evidence must support that onset date.

If you previously applied for SSD at an earlier date, an SSD lawyer may be able to reopen your old claim for evidence of an early disability onset date. People who can’t get SSD because of a DLI obstacle can apply for SSI benefits if they meet the SSI program’s income and asset limits.

Contact a Warren, MI Social Security Lawyer Today

If “date last insured” is an issue in your disability case, help from skilled Social Security Disability lawyers can be vital to receiving benefits. At Disability Attorneys of Michigan, we know every detail about the claims process, and we also know the significant impact that benefits can have on our clients’ lives. Contact us for a free case consultation at 800-949-2900.


I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.