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Learning the Lingo of Social Security

November 2, 2017 • By

two men chatting Is Social Security a topic in your conversations these days? Are you familiar with the lingo used to describe Social Security benefits, or does it sound like a new vocabulary to you?

Social Security employees strive to explain benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. But if a technical term or acronym (an abbreviation of the first letters of words in a phrase) that you don’t know slips into the conversation or appears in written material, you can easily find the meaning in our online glossary at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/glossary

Social Security acronyms function as verbal shorthand in our financial planning conversations. If you’re nearing retirement, you may want to know what PIA (primary insurance amount), FRA (full retirement age), and DRCs (delayed retirement credits) mean. These terms involve your benefit amount based on when you decide to take it.

If you take your retirement benefit at FRA, you’ll receive the full PIA (amount payable for a retired worker who starts benefits at full retirement age). So, FRA is an age and PIA is an amount.

What about DRCs? Delayed retirement credits are the incremental increases added to the PIA if you delay taking retirement benefits beyond your full retirement age. If you wait to begin benefits beyond FRA — say, at age 68 or even 70 — your benefit increases.

Once you receive benefits, you get a COLA most years. But don’t expect a refreshing drink — a COLA is a Cost of Living Adjustment, and that usually means a little extra money in your monthly payment.

Knowing some of these terms can help you fine-tune your conversations about Social Security.  If one of those unknown terms or acronyms does come up in conversation, you can be the one to supply the definition using our online glossary. Sometimes learning the lingo can deepen your understanding of how Social Security works for you. Discover more at www.socialsecurity.gov.


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Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

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  1. The Thus

    Nice.. . for best social and security news https://thethus.com/

    Reply
  2. Yvonne Love

    What is IRMAA?

    Reply
  3. John

    Helo,
    I still don’t understand!
    I worked for an union for 44 years.
    one reason I close an Union is to make my wife and myself would covered medically in our old age.
    I have full medical coverage for both of us through our union.
    I don’t understand why Im being charged for that full coverage through SSA .
    Why do I need SSA’s Medicare when I have full coverage?
    Why do I need SSA’s prescription plan when I have one through my union coverage? I have not used your prescription plan nor do I need to.
    Seems like I paying for something I don’t need nor want.
    Look for ward to a reply.
    Thank you in advance for your time in regard to this matter.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi John, thanks for using our blog. In most cases, if you don’t sign up for Medicare when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a higher monthly premium which is why we advise people to apply for Medicare benefits as soon as they are eligible. However, if you were covered under a group health plan based on your or your spouse’s current employment, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that will let you sign up for Medicare Part B. You have an 8-month SEP to sign up for Part A and/or Part B that starts at one of these times (whichever happens first):
      • The month after the employment ends
      • The month after group health plan insurance based on current employment ends.

      Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a SEP.

      If you don’t qualify for an SEP, you will have to wait for the General Enrollment Period (GEP) to sign up. The GEP lasts from January 1 through March 31. Coverage would begin July 1. Most people who sign up for Part B during the GEP will have a 10 percent increase in monthly premiums for each 12-month period they did not enroll, but were eligible.

      You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

      Reply

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