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How Does My “Date Last Insured” Impact My Application for Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Social Security Disability

b2ap3_thumbnail_disability_20200401-004725_1.jpgSocial Security disability is a form of insurance. This means that you can only apply for benefits if you are actually covered–insured–at the time you became disabled. In most cases, your “date last insured” for disability purposes is five years after you left your last job.

Appeals Court: Social Security May Not Ignore Medical Opinions Rendered After Date Last Insured

But can Social Security consider a medical diagnosis or opinion rendered by your doctor after your date last insured (DLI) when assessing your disability claim? The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago recently addressed this question in an unpublished decision, Marquardt v. Saul. The plaintiff in this case applied for disability benefits based on his lupus and related impairments.

The plaintiff's date last insured was July 2013. In his application to Social Security, the plaintiff said his lupus rendered him unable to work prior to this date. However, he also submitted two reports from his treating neurologist, which were prepared in 2015 and 2016, respectively. These reports established the plaintiff suffered from cognitive defects as a result of his lupus. These defects, in turn, limited the plaintiff to performing “single-task jobs with breaks and no distractions.”

A Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) denied the plaintiff's claim for disability benefits. As the Seventh Circuit noted, the ALJ “did not discuss” the 2015 and 2016 assessments. Indeed, the ALJ gave “little weight” to the neurologist's opinions at all given they were “rendered three years after the date last insured” and the plaintiff did not even visit the neurologist until two years after the DLI.

The Seventh Circuit said that was a legal error and returned the case to Social Security for a new hearing. The appeals court said that while an ALJ “need not mention every piece of evidence in the record,” they must “consider retrospective medical opinions (created after the date last insured) that are consistent with past symptoms.” In this case, that meant the ALJ should have given greater consideration to the neurologist's reports from 2015 and 2016. Even though they were made years after the plaintiff's DLI, they discussed symptoms that were consistent with those the plaintiff experienced while he was still insured.

Again, the Seventh Circuit did not hold the plaintiff qualified for disability benefits. Rather, it said the ALJ needed to reconsider the plaintiff's case without improperly discounting the neurologist's reports. In addition, the ALJ must “incorporate” the limitations on the plaintiff's ability to work identified by the neurologist when considering what types of jobs may still be able to perform.

Speak with a Chicago Social Security Disability Attorney Today

Disability decisions need to be based on a proper consideration of all available medical evidence. If you need help convincing Social Security of this, an experienced Cook County disability benefits lawyer can help. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today at 312-999-0999 to schedule a consultation with a member of our team. There is no obligation or risk to you–we work exclusively on a contingency basis. This means we do not collect any legal fees unless we win on your behalf.




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