In your Social Security Disability case, there are lots of key dates and other pieces of vital information that will be essential elements of the evidence you provide to the Social Security Administration. Keeping up with all of them is extremely important because an error with any one of them can be the thing that trips up your Social Security Disability case and leads to your receiving no benefits. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure you have effective and detail-oriented Chicago Social Security Disability counsel handling your case for you.
DLI, which stands for “date last insured,” is one of those key pieces of information, and it was at the center of one case recently decided by the federal appeals court here in Chicago. In that case, K.M. was diagnosed with lupus. Over the years, K.M.’s lupus caused deterioration in his mental functioning and motor speed. K.M. filed for Social Security Disability benefits based on his lupus along with other problems.
A Social Security Disability claimant’s DLI is extremely important for a number of reasons. One of those is that it may limit the medical evidence you can use in your case. If a medical opinion is composed after your DLI and is based on symptoms that you did not exhibit until after your DLI, then it can be disregarded in determining your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. In ruling against K.M., the ALJ assigned to his case refused to consider several of K.M.’s supporting medical documents, including two reports from a neurologist and an opinion provided by a counselor, precisely because each of them was created after K.M.’s DLI.
When you can use ‘retrospective’ medical opinions in your Social Security Disability case
The appeals court ruled that the administrative law judge (ALJ) was wrong not to consider those pieces of information. Medical opinions that are created after the claimant’s DLI (sometimes called “retrospective” medical opinions) can, and should, still be considered by the ALJ if they “are consistent with past symptoms” Even though K.M.’s 2015 and 2016 neurologist reports were completed after his DLI, they each stated that, prior to K.M.’s DLI, he experienced disabling symptoms like “feeble concentration, weak ‘mental flexibility,’ and frequent fatigue,” and that all of these were consistent with a brain scan that K.M. had undergone.
The same was true of the counselor’s opinion, so the ALJ should have considered it, as well. The symptoms listed in each of these retrospective medical reports were consistent with symptoms K.M. displayed before his DLI, so he was entitled to use them.
K.M. was proceeding without a lawyer. With that in mind, it is important to point out that the appeals court’s opinion did not declare that K.M. was entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits. The opinion only said that K.M. was entitled to a new hearing before an ALJ and that he was entitled to use the counselor’s opinion and the two neurologist reports in that hearing. There are still a lot of hurdles K.M. will have to clear if he is to obtain benefits, and just because he will have the benefit of these three extra medical documents, that does not automatically mean that he will be able to achieve success at his second hearing if he proceeds on his own.
Whether it is knowing all of the standards established by the law and regulations, or understanding how to accumulate and present the proof needed to meet each of these requirements, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney is almost always invaluable in helping you navigate the process and get you the award of benefits that you need and deserve. For your much-needed benefits, don’t leave anything to chance. Call upon the skilled Chicago Social Security Disability attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our attorneys have been helping Social Security Disability claimants tackle the system and get the benefits they deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.