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  • Writer's pictureStephanie O. Joy, Esq.

Two "To Do"s When You Are Contemplating Filing an SSDI Claim

Whether you are planning a pro se filing for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or are hoping to retain a lawyer, two easy actions to take that will start you in the right direction from the start are: 1) Obtain your DLI

2) Obtain your annual Social Security Earnings Statement

FIRST: The first gem is to know your DLI. DLI stands for Date Last Insured. Yes, you are either insured for SSDI or you are not. You may have been in the past and it expired like the term insurance that it is, or you were never insured for SSDI. (More about being insured coming soon!)

To obtain your DLI the easiest way with no calculations of your own, is to call the national SSA number at 1-800-772-1213. Being a menu driven phone number, expect to press buttons and potentially wait on hold a bit. (My staff would put the phone on speaker while they wait, so they can go about their day while waiting.) When you get a live body, they will likely have you identify/confirm yourself to them. Once verified, you will be asking for you "Date Last Insured" for Social Security Disability. Write the date down you are given and if you are working with me, or hope to, message it to me immediately.

SECOND: The second case-helpful piece of information is actually a document. Many of you may remember when the SSA sent you an annual document telling you what your Social Security covered earnings has been over your lifetime, reported annually. The SSA no longer sends that by mail to the millions and millions that it did in the past. It stopped, as of a good 10 years ago or so, I believe in an effort to reduce expenses. I don't disagree with the move - it may be that most young people and even some middle-agers did as I did before I recognized the importance of my Social Security record, they simply tossed this gem of a document in to the garbage. A big waste of taxpayers' hard earned dollars. But never fear, now we can get it online. Go to and either create your connection to your personal file with the Social Security Administration or sign in if you have already done so.

Once in your account, look for a link about your Earnings - the view and titles may change but the document you want to DOWNLOAD will contain a list of each year's covered earnings. Historically, it also told us if we were insured for SSDI currently, described what amount of benefit we could expect if we became disabled today (legally speaking), retired and collected early at 62 years of age, waited til full retirement age to collect, or, for biggest benefits amount, delayed collecting our Social Security Retirement until age 70. A great tool for retirement planning, no?

The above information may be critical to determine what "Alleged Onset Date" you will be asserting in your application. More on that in a different blog. But, if you are relying on the SSA field office to determine you AOD for your filing, you may be risking forfeiting many months of back benefits if it is chosen incorrectly without quite a bit of fact gathering/investigation beforehand. I cannot tell you how many are the many times a denied individual seeking an attorney for appeal after the blunder and denied initial claim had an AOD asserted that was not in his or her best interests. Even worse, some people WIN their case on initial but with the WRONG onset alleged - losing much back benefits - and the only way to TRY to remedy that is via APPEAL. The risks of appealing a win are also a topic for a different day, but suffice it today, a clean acceptable award is what you want! For a free attorney consultation for a new fresh filing or to appeal an existing denial, head over to our free evaluation form and we'll speak soon.

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