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  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    A federal supplemental income program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It helps aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources by providing monthly cash payments to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Disability Benefits
    You can get disability benefits if you: are under full retirement age have enough Social Security credits and have a severe medical impairment (physical or mental) that’s expected to prevent you from doing “substantial” work for a year or more, or have a condition that is expected to result in death.
  • Compassionate Allowance (CAL)
    The Social Security Administration uses Compassionate Allowances as a way of quickly identifying claimants who have severe conditions which obviously qualify them for benefits. Compassionate Allowance conditions are some of those that are found under the Listing of Impairments. These allow the SSA to quickly identify the most obviously disabled individuals and get the benefits.
  • Concurrent
    A concurrent claim is one that includes both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

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  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
    Activities of daily living are anything you might do on a regular daily basis. This may include things such as showering, brushing your teeth, cooking, cleaning and social activities. When Social Security is asking any question related to ADLs, make sure you answer the question as if you were trying to complete the activity on Read More...
  • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
    If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you may ask for a hearing. The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge who had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration of your case. Administrative law judges (ALJs) preside at administrative hearings in order to resolve disputes between government agencies and people Read More...
  • Alleged Onset Date
    This is the date you tell Social Security that you believe your disability started or that you became unable to work due to your disability.
  • Appeal (Appeal Rights)
    You will receive a letter of explanation whenever Social Security makes a decision regarding your eligibility for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal.
  • Appeals Council
    If the decision from the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the hearing is unfavorable you can request that the Appeals Council Review your case. The Appeals Council is not responsible to evaluate the facts of your case but instead to determine if the ALJ made a mistake in denying your claim. There are three decisions Read More...
  • Application Number
    The application number is the number Social Security assigns when you are filing a disability claim online. You will be able to use this number to log back in to your application should you have to sign off before you are able to complete the online application. We recommend you either print or write down Read More...
  • Assistive Devices
    Tools, product or types of equipment that will help you perform tasks and/or activities of daily living. They may help you move around, see, hear, eat, communicate or even get dressed. Some examples are: cane, four-pronged cane, walker, wheelchair, wrist braces, or even a magnifying glass for the visually impaired.
  • Averaged Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME)
    (AIME) The total of any monthly earning(s) received is used to calculate your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings. Earnings can come from the following sources: wages, compensation, self-employment income, and deemed military wage credits that are creditable to you for social security purposes for years after 1950.
  • Back Pay
    Back pay is money owed to you from your date of entitlement to the date when you first start receiving your benefits. It is your retroactive pay. In a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim, your date of entitlement can be only as far back as the first full month after the date you filed your Read More...
  • Benefits
    Social Security pays five types of benefits: Retirement Disability Family (dependents) Survivors Medicare The retirement, family (dependents), survivor and disability programs pay monthly cash benefits, and Medicare provides medical coverage.
  • Benefits – Reduced
    You can get the following reduced monthly benefits before reaching full retirement age: Retirement benefits at age 62 through the month before your reach Full Retirement Age; Husband’s or wife’s benefits at age 62 through the month before you reach full retirement age, provided no child of your spouse either under age 18 or disabled and entitled Read More...
  • Birth Certificate – original
    The record maintained by a governmental entity such as a state, county, parish, city, or borough that documents your birth. For additional information on obtaining a birth certificate see the NCHS – Alphabetical List.
  • Blue Book
    This book explains how the Social Security Disability programs work. It is also a great reference for healthcare professionals when it comes to documentation of a patient’s record in order to help them obtain benefits.
  • Child
    Social Security uses the term “Child” to include your biological child or any other child who can inherit your personal property under State law or who meets certain specific requirements under the Social Security Act; such as: a legally adopted child, an equitably adopted child, a stepchild, or a grandchild.
  • Claim Analyst
    The Claim Analyst is the employee at the Disability Determination Services office who is assigned to handle your claim.
  • Claim Analyst
    The Claim Analyst is the employee at the Disability Determination Services office who is assigned to handle your claim.
  • Claims Representative
    The Social Security Claim Representative is the employee at the Social Security local branch office who is assigned to handle your claim.
  • Compassionate Allowance (CAL)
    The Social Security Administration uses Compassionate Allowances as a way of quickly identifying claimants who have severe conditions which obviously qualify them for benefits. Compassionate Allowance conditions are some of those that are found under the Listing of Impairments. These allow the SSA to quickly identify the most obviously disabled individuals and get the benefits.
  • Concurrent
    A concurrent claim is one that includes both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
  • Consultative Exam (CE)
    If the records provided to Social Security by the claimant’s own medical sources are not adequate to determine if he or she is disabled, additional medical information may be needed by ordering a consultative examination (CE). The goal of this exam is for a third party doctor (not known to you and not an employee Read More...
  • Continuing Disability Review (CDR)
    A periodic review of someone receiving disability benefits which is to determine if disability benefits should continue. They may be scheduled if medical improvement was expected. This may also be called Continuing Disability Investigation (CDI).
  • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
    Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments may be automatically increased each year to keep pace with increases in the cost-of-living (inflation). This is not a guaranteed annual increase.
  • Credits (Social Security Credits)
    Previously called “Quarters of Coverage.” As you work and pay taxes, you earn credits that count toward your eligibility for future Social Security benefits. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. Most people need 40 credits to qualify for benefits. Younger people need fewer credits to qualify for disability benefits. If you Read More...
  • Date Last Insured (DLI)
    Your date last insured (DLI) is the date in which you are last insured for Social Security Disability benefits. In order to receive benefits, you must prove to Social Security that you were unable to work due to your disability prior to your DLI. Generally speaking, if you worked full time for ten or more Read More...
  • Date of Entitlement
    Your date of entitlement is the date in which you will start to receive disability benefits. If you have a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case, the date of entitlement would be the first day of the month following the date you applied. For instance, if you filed your SSI claim on February 19, 2010, your Read More...
  • Decision Notice (Award Letter or Denial Letter)
    Social Security will notify you of their decision regarding your application and appeals. The letter you receive from SSA with this official decision is called a Decision Notice. Type of Decision Title of Notice Denial of Initial Application Notice of Disapproved Claim Denial of First Appeal Notice of Reconsideration Denial at Hearing Stage Notice of Read More...
  • Direct Deposit
    This is the simplest way to receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Your money is sent electronically to an account in a financial institution (bank, trust company, savings and loan association, brokerage agency or credit union). You can sign up online at socialsecurity.gov.
  • Disability Benefits
    You can get disability benefits if you: are under full retirement age have enough Social Security credits and have a severe medical impairment (physical or mental) that’s expected to prevent you from doing “substantial” work for a year or more, or have a condition that is expected to result in death.
  • Disability Determination Services (DDS)
    Disability Determination Services (DDS) DDS is the state agency responsible for determining if a claimant meets social security’s medical rules for eligibility for disability benefits. Each state has at least one DDS office. DDS is responsible for making the medical determination at both the initial and Reconsideration stages. These agencies are federally funded. The decision Read More...
  • Disability Determination Services Examiner
    The DDS examiner works for Disability Determination Services (DDS) which is a state government agency who’s main propose is to make disability findings for the Social Security Administration (SSA). When you first apply for SSDI or SSI, the DDS examiner is the person that will decide if you meet the SSA definition of being disabled. Read More...
  • Disability Hearing
    A disability hearing is a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. This hearing occurs after you have been denied for disability benefits and your appeal is also denied. Then you can request a disability hearing.
  • Early Retirement
    You can start getting Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but your benefit amount will be less than you would have gotten if you waited until your full retirement age. If you take retirement benefits early, your benefit will remain permanently reduced, based on the number of months you received benefits before Read More...
  • Earnings Record (Lifetime Record of Earnings)
    A chronological history of the amount of money you earned each year during your working lifetime. The credits you earned remain on your Social Security record even when you change jobs or have no earnings.
  • Family Benefits (Dependent Benefits)
    When you’re eligible for disability benefits, the following people may receive benefits on your record: spouse if he or she is at least 62 years old (or any age but caring for an entitled child under age 16 or disabled); children if they are unmarried and under age 18, or under age 19 and a Read More...
  • Family Maximum
    The maximum amount of benefits payable to an entire family on any one worker’s record.
  • Federal District Court
    If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision or if the Appeals Council decides not to review your case, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
  • FICA Tax
    FICA stands for “Federal Insurance Contributions Act.” It’s the tax withheld from your salary or self-employment income that funds the Social Security and Medicare programs.
  • Food Stamp Program
    The U. S. Department of Agriculture program that helps needy families buy food.
  • Full Retirement Age
    The age at which a person may first become entitled to full or unreduced retirement benefits. Year of Birth* Full Retirement Age 1937 or earlier 65 1938 65 and 2 months 1939 65 and 4 months 1940 65 and 6 months 1941 65 and 8 months 1942 65 and 10 months 1943–1954 66 1955 66 and 2 months 1956 Read More...
  • Health Insurance (Medicare)
    The federal health insurance program for: people 65 years of age or older; certain younger people with disabilities; and people with permanent kidney failure with dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease).
  • Insured Status
    If you worked and earned enough Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement or disability benefits or enable your dependents to be eligible for benefits due to your retirement, disability, or death, you have insured status.
  • Lawful Alien Status
    People admitted to the U.S. who are granted permanent authorization to work by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (formerly INS) or admitted to the U.S. on a temporary basis with USCIS or INS authorization to work.
  • Listing of Impairements
    A book (sometimes called the Blue Book) which allows an examiner to have a detailed list of requirements to determine if a medical condition is considered disabling. If your condition meets the requirements then you are considered disabled. The book contains many common medical conditions. It is possible to have a medical condition that is Read More...
  • Local Branch Office
    This is the Social Security office which is located nearest your place of residence.
  • Lump Sum Death Payment
    A one-time payment paid in addition to any monthly survivors benefits that are due. This benefit is paid only to your widow/widower or minor children. As of 1/1/2012, the benefit amount was $255.
  • Maximum Earnings
    The maximum amount of earnings we can count in any calendar year when computing your Social Security benefit.
  • Medicaid
    A joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for people with low incomes and limited resources. Medicaid programs vary from state to state, but most health care costs are covered if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Medical Expert
    A medical expert for a hearing is a qualified doctor hired by Social Security to testify as to their opinion of your ability to work based on medical evidence supplied to the expert by Social Security.
  • Medical Vocational Allowance
    This is the term used when disability benefits are granted to someone who has a medical condition which is not contained in the List of Impairments but is found to be disabled. When a claimant’s condition does not meet a “listing” then the examiner will look more at the medical condition and consider what your Read More...
  • Medicare
    See Health Insurance.
  • Medicare Eligibility Date
    In a Social Security Disability Claim (SSDI), you are eligible to start receiving Medicare benefits 29 months after your date of onset. For example, if Social Security determines that you became disabled on February 19, 2009, you will be eligible for Medicare benefits on August 1, 2011. Social Security does not include the partial month Read More...
  • Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
    The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review is also referred to as The Hearing Office. Claimants who are not satisfied with the Reconsideration appeal determination can file a second appeal. This second appeal is called a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) or RFHALJ. The ALJ makes a decision, usually after holding a Read More...
  • Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
    The Office of the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is an independent division whose mission is to detect and deter waste, fraud, abuse, and misconduct in DOJ programs and personnel, and to promote economy and efficiency in those programs.
  • Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI)
    The Social Security programs that provide monthly cash benefits to you and your dependents when you retire, to your surviving dependents, and to disabled workers and their dependents.
  • Payment Dates for Social Security Benefits
    If you filed for Social Security benefits May 1, 1997, or later, you are assigned one of three new payment days based on date of birth: If you were born on the… Your payment will be delivered on the… 1st through 10th of the month Second Wednesday of the month 11th through 20th of the month Third Wednesday of Read More...
  • Payment Dates for Social Security Income Payments (SSI)
    SSI payments are usually dated and delivered on the first day of the month for which they are due. However, if the first falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday, they are dated and delivered on the first day preceding the first of the month which is not a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday.
  • Physical Exertion Requirements
    Sedentary work. Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools. Although a sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting, a certain amount of walking and standing is often necessary in carrying out job duties. Jobs are sedentary Read More...
  • Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)
    The monthly amount payable if you are a retired worker who begins receiving benefits at full retirement age or if you’re disabled and have never received a retirement benefit reduced for age.
  • Protective Filing Date
    The date you first contacted Social Security about filing for benefits. It may be used to establish an earlier application date than when we receive your signed application.
  • Re-entry Number
    This is the number that you are given by Social Security when you are filing a disability report for an application or appeal online. We recommend you either print or write down this number. Then, if you leave the website before completing the “Disability Report- Appeal,” you will be able to continue your appeal at Read More...
  • Reconsideration
    If your initial application is denied by Social Security you have the right to file an appeal within 60 days of the date of the denial. The first administrative appeal is called the Reconsideration appeal. This appeal is usually handled much the same as the initial claim. However, a different team at DDS is in Read More...
  • Representative Payee
    If you receive Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and become unable to handle your own financial affairs, Social Security can appoint a relative, a friend, or an interested party to handle your Social Security matters. Representative payees are required to maintain complete accounting records and periodically provide reports to Social Security.
  • Request for Reconsideration
    A Request for Reconsideration may be filed if a claimant has been denied their original claim for disability benefits. This is a separate form that is filled out and submitted. It is a request that your original application and claim be reviewed a second time. Like your original application, your case will be assigned to Read More...
  • Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
    Work activities you are able to do on a regular and continuing basis, that is, a full 40-hour work week, in spite of your disability
  • Retirement Age – Minimum
    The minimum age for retirement—age 62 for workers, and age 60 for widows or widowers. You can choose a reduced benefit any time before you reach full retirement age.
  • Retirement Benefit
    Money that is payable to you upon retirement if you have enough Social Security credits.
  • Retroactive Benefits (Back Pay)
    Monthly benefits that you may be entitled to before the month you actually apply, if you meet the requirements.
  • Self-employment Income
    You are self-employed if you operate a trade, business or profession, either individually or as a partner, and have net earnings of $400 or more in a taxable year.
  • Social Security
    Social Security is based on a simple concept: While you work, you pay taxes into the Social Security system, and when you retire or become disabled, you, your spouse and your dependent children receive monthly benefits that are based on your reported earnings. Also, your survivors can collect benefits if you die.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
    This pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
  • Spouse
    You are the spouse of the worker if, when he or she applied for benefits: you and the worker were married; or you would have the status of a husband or a wife for that person’s personal property if they had no will; or you went through a marriage ceremony in good faith, which would have Read More...
  • Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
    At Step 1 of the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process Social Security considers your work activity since the date you allege you became disabled. If you are earning Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), Social Security will deem you not disabled regardless of any medical condition, age, education and work experience. Part-time work may be considered SGA Read More...
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    A federal supplemental income program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It helps aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources by providing monthly cash payments to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
  • Survivor’s Benefits
    Benefits based on your record (if you should die) are paid to your: widow/widower age 60 or older, 50 or older if disabled, or any age if caring for a child under age 16 or disabled before age 22 children, if they are unmarried and under age 18, under 19 but still in school, or Read More...
  • Ticket to Work
    Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability beneficiaries can get help with training to go to work at no cost to them. Most people will receive a “ticket” that they can take to a provider of their choice who can offer the kind of services they need.
  • Vocational Expert
    Vocational experts are professionals which are hired by Social Security to testify as to a claimant’s ability to perform any type of work. The VE will be asked to determine if a claimant is able to perform their past work or if the claimant is able to perform any work at all. The VEs will Read More...
  • Wage Earner
    A person who earns Social Security credits while working for wages or self-employment income. Sometimes referred to as the “Number Holder” or “Worker.”
  • Wages
    All payment for services performed for an employer. Wages do not have to be cash. The cash value of all compensation paid to an employee in any form other than cash is also considered wages, unless the form of payment is specifically not covered under the Social Security Act.
  • Widow
    You are the widow/widower of the worker if, at the time the insured person died: you and the worker were validly married; or you would have the status of a husband or a wife for that person’s personal property if he or she had no will; or you went through a marriage ceremony in good Read More...