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Your Date Last Insured (“DLI”)
The easiest way to think about your DLI is like this. Imagine you own a car. It is a great car, it runs well and you expect it to last for a long time. Just in case, however, you choose to get an insurance policy for the car. This way, if an accident occurs, you will not have to pay for the repairs or replacement; that will be the insurance company’s responsibility. Each month, you send a check to the insurance company to continue the coverage. One day, for whatever reason, you decide to stop paying the insurance company. You still own the car, but you stop contributing to the insurance. Let’s suppose the insurance company tells you that you’ve paid enough premiums to build up enough coverage to protect the car for the next one year. If anything happens during the next year, they will take care of it. After that, you are on your own.
Now let’s imagine that 3 months after you first stopped paying for the insurance, your car gets hit by another car. You turn to the insurance company, and they should respond by picking up the cost of the damage. Let’s imagine, however, that this accident happened 18 months after you stopped paying the insurance. Remember, they told you the car was covered for only one more year. Will the insurance company care about your accident? No way. You’re on your own with this one.
It’s exactly the same thing with SSD. You are like your car; Social Security is like the insurance company. If you stop working, depending on how many years you have put in already, you will be protected against injury or illness for a particular amount of time. Usually this is 5 years, but it can be much less. To receive SSD, you have to prove that your disability started before your insurance ran out (before your DLI). In other words you don’t have to file an application before your DLI; you just have to prove that the disability began prior to the DLI.