A brief explanation of what your date last insured means can be found here. But what happens if your date last insured is a date in the past? This can create particular problems in your Social Security disability case. If your DLI is in the very recent past (for example, it hadn't expired when your applied but has during the pendency of your appeal), it may not create excessive problems for you. If, however, your DLI is in the remote past, other issues can come to the forefront.
One of the main problems with a remote DLI is the simple fact that time affects memory. In order to receive benefits, you must prove you were disabled on or before your DLI so you must present evidence from that period of time. First, you must be able to remember all of the doctors you were seeing at that time. In addition, at your hearing, you need to give testimony about your condition at that time. If, for example, your DLI is in 2002, you must give testimony about, for example, your medical condition, treatment, limitations, and your day-to-day activities. Time can simply have an adverse affect on your ability to remember all of these details. In addition, you must present evidence to support your testimony (i.e., medical records). This can be problematic because many doctors' offices purge or destroy medical records after 10 years. In addition, many doctors retire, move, or change offices over the course of the years. This can make it difficult to obtain records from a remote time.
But can I overcome these obstacles? The simple answer is yes, but it is often very difficult, especially if your DLI expired several years ago. In some situations, the smallest details can help you win your case. In one of my recent cases, a claimant's DLI was September 30, 2002. Her case was based primarily on mental health impairments. She was able to win her case by her testimony combined with the testimony of her husband and medical records from an emergency room visit for an unrelated injury that mentioned she was taking psychotropic medications at a time prior to 2002. This is why it is so important to keep up with your doctors' names and ALL of your medical treatment, even that which you might consider to be unimportant or irrelevant. Be prepared to tell your attorney all of this information to help him or her fully represent you in your case. Hard work and diligence on both your part and your attorney's can make a huge difference if you have a DLI issue arise in your case for Social Security disability benefits.