Social Security Terms in Plain Language

" "Some of the terms and acronyms (an abbreviation of the first letters of words in a phrase) people use when they talk about Social Security can be a little confusing. We’re here to help you understand all you need to know.

Social Security employees strive to explain benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. In fact, The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to communicate clearly in a way “the public can understand and use.”

If a technical term or acronym that you don’t know slips into the conversation or appears in written material, you can easily find the meaning in our online glossary.

Social Security’s acronyms function as verbal shorthand in your 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.

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

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.

If one of those unknown terms or acronyms comes up in conversation, you can be the one to supply the definition using our online glossary. Sometimes learning the terminology can deepen your understanding of w Social Security works for you. Discover and share more on our website.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

125 thoughts on “Social Security Terms in Plain Language

    • When and where did Trump say he was taking any money out of SS?? Congress has to approve of any money taken out!!

  1. If you know that acronyms and abbreviations are confusing to the older generation and the Plain Writing Act of 2010 is in affect, why do you use them? Do you really save that much time or are you basically lazy? It is hard to understand what is being said when you do not come right out and say it. Is it all about you with no consideration for your reader?

  2. I retired @ 62 and felt bad about that all the way until 68
    when I learned of my liver issues, now with little chance of seeing 80 early retirement was a smart move.

    • Here it a pat on the shoulder Richard. I am sorry bout medical issue. But I retired at 62 too. I went at 62 while I am in my best spirit. If you are comfortable and feel you can wait till 70 to retire …great but my personal experience, I am glad I went at 62 with no regrets.

  3. always when you post your articles, SPELL OUT the name then showing the abbreviation!

    this goes along way for the reader to follow with the remaining article. thanks!

  4. Hi, mon problème c’est la mémoire: je n’arrive pas à retenir la signification d’un mot longtemps. J’apprécie beaucoup votre aide.
    Mon état psychique, malheureusement m ‘oblige à me retirer

  5. I hope you will do everything in your power to make sure Social Security is around FOREVER for all the people who count on OUR BENEFITS, NOT ENTITLEMENTS., AS TRUMP IS TRYING TO MAKE IT!
    Please make it easier for Seniors to navigate through all the jargon for understanding what they need to know!
    Thank you for listening!
    Patricia

  6. Why isn’t the Social SecurityArt WRITTEN in plain language in the first false, AND Why isn’t ALL social Security employees, and notices written in plain language in the first place. Why don’t you make it a chargeable offense under the Plain language act of 2010 for anyone one in Social Security to use gobble gook, then EWKWTFY talking about and we won’t need a glossary.

  7. What does “a fizzy drink” mean in your sentence:

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

    More gobbledygook?

    • A cola is a soft drink, think Pepsi or Coke. A COLA is a Cost Of Living Adjustment. So you can buy more cola with your COLA…. hope this helped explain their attempt at humor. This stuff is such a pain in the rear, a little humor helps.

  8. I think social security Administration.
    I have a lot wrong name with people with wrong ss # but in my case that’s i can’t have my benefits i deserved from my records.ssa have to help prevent bad scammer people records.
    Thanks !

  9. I have been trying to sign into my social security. The web site states it will send me a code around 2 minutes and will expire in 10 minutes. I have tried twice today and each time the code arrives in 11 minutes. How can I sign in????

  10. The 35 years work history. I been in this country for 22 years and I have worked and still working so far 21 years. My retairement age is 67, and by that time I would cumulates total 30 years of work history. The calculation of my social security payment will be adding a $0 for the missing 5 years. I don’t think this is fair to all workers who immigrated lawfully to the USA and have worked many years in their country.
    In additional the Congress is trying to make changes to the social security with out a memorandum to all people who are social security eligible.

  11. Has the SSA updated the term for severe anxiety. PTSD is no longer grouped with anxiety in the DSM-5. PTSD is not an anxiety. Why are people getting disability for general anxiety disorder? General anxiety mean they haven’t meet all the requirement of the specific anxiety disorder. They haven’t even meet the minimum requirements for even mild agoraphobia.

    Most competitive jobs require the ability to travel to and from work and thus, would be precluded by extreme agoraphobiain which the person is incapable of leaving his or her home. However, a mild case of agoraphobia may not preclude the ability to travel to and from work or preclude work performed in the same (and thus, familiar) setting each day.
    https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0425020010

    Disability claimants learn to game the system and taught to say they are afraid to leave their home. They also say they are afraid to be around other people and in groups. You can easily tell the fraudster is trying to game the system. Psychiatrist/Psychologist will diagnose someone with a mild case of agoraphobia, but they will definitely diagnose someone with a severe case of agoraphobia.

  12. The Substantial Gainful Activity(SGA) is only $1220/month. Most state minimum wage is more than this amount and some are double.

    They can work half as much part time and perform SGA. The State’s minimum wage should be taken into account.

    Lawyers have been able to scam the SSA saying if their client missed three days a month, then they wouldn’t be able to perform SGA.

    They would not not be able to keep a full time job, but they can find a part time job. There are plenty of employers offering part time jobs with flexible hours because they don’t have to pay benefits. Many employers including fast food restaurants are always accepting applications.

    There are so many people receiving mental disability or applying for mental disability that there is a shortage of psychiatrist and psychologist to treat them. The shortage of psychiatrist and psychologist has even affected the amount CE exams done in Tennessee and across the country.

    The standard to get approved for mental disability is so low that the millions are applying each year. Mental disability has become a defacto lifetime job opportunity where they don’t have to work and get paid.

    The economy can’t support the number of people claiming to be disabled evidence by the shortage of psychiatrist and psychologist.

    • I have loved ones who are honest and truly struck down with severe lifetime anxiety illness. Sure don’t appreciate your less than empathic or even thoughtful assessment of those who suffer with this nearly untreatable problem. And, why is it so difficult to understand that millions suffer from this problem?

  13. The US population only grew by 17% since 2000, but the total number of people receiving mental disability benefits grew by over 50%.

    Mental disability affects a ceratin percentage of the population which hasn’t change, so there is a disparity in the amount of people becoming disabled on social security in the US.

    The number of people claiming to be mentally disabled grew, so fast that there is a shortage of psychiatrist and psychologist.

  14. why does my local SSA office refuse to acknowledge that since I am born before 1954 that i can file a RESTRICTIVE BENEFIT APPLICATION although some say they are aware and others say there is no such thing and ask me to prove it to them. The only way i was able to apply was to have Filing a Restrictive Application in the Remarks section of the application. I cannot get any written proof that it was processed as such. SSA has three different letters/documents that show different names that I applied for a spousal benefit which gives me much to worry about, or should i not be concerned?

  15. Sign me up for blogs..thank you.
    Wondering cost of living increase…is that applied every year in October? Where and when are when are we notified of the amount???

  16. is there any update on the Secure Act which from what I understand has passed the House and need Senate approval. This is suppose to delay forced 401 withdrawal until 72 1/2 . Which could be nice.

  17. Why is the middle class being charged so much for Medicare? Thought the steep prices would not apply to middle class. How sad. Really cuts into cost of living especially when it’s based on past and not current.

  18. Office 365 is a lot of cloud-based programming by Microsoft (MS).
    Contingent upon the arrangement or membership you buy, it might incorporate the most recent variant of Exchange Email,
    SharePoint and One-Drive for record and online stockpiling,
    Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams or
    Skype for Business). https://officesupport.net/

  19. HA – Hospitals & Asylums

    Appoint me Public Trustee to sign my ‘Message of the Public Trustee’ in the 2020 Annual Report of the OASI and DI Trust Funds, to tax the rich and state employees the full 12.4% OASDI tax on all their income, to create an SSI Trust Fund, to end child poverty by 2020, and all poverty by 2030 http://www.title24uscode.org/2020message.pdf

  20. Here it a pat on the shoulder Richard. I am sorry bout medical issue. But I retired at 62 too. I went at 62 while I am in my best spirit. If you are comfortable and feel you can wait till 70 to retire …great but my personal experience, I am glad I went at 62 with no regrets. https://9jamyschool.com.ng

  21. Appoint me Public Trustee to sign my ‘Message of the Public Trustee’ in the 2020 Annual Report of the OASI and DI Trust Funds, to tax the rich and state employees the full 12.4% OASDI tax on all their income, to create an SSI Trust Fund, to end child.. http://www.scholarshiponline.website

  22. I am a 100% Disabled American Veteran and as such I get all of my medical through the VA. Do I still need to Medicare A & B ?

    • Hi Richard. Thank you for your question. Before you decide to cancel your Medicare coverage, you should contact the Department of Defense or a military health, or Veterans Administration (VA) benefits advisor for more information. In some instances, the law requires TRICARE (VA Healthcare) beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A to enroll in Medicare Part B to retain their TRICARE benefits. Please visit the TRICARE web page or contact your military health benefits advisor for more information. You should also call the Medicare toll-free number, 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) regarding this decision. We hope this information helps.

  23. I retired in 2009. I worked for post office user fers
    I signed a and b originally After 3 yrs I was informed that since I had postal insurance , I didn’t need part b. So I cancelled part b.
    Now I want to change my ins. From postal to Medicare

    I filled out form 0938-0787. Request for employment info

    I went to as office to sign up
    I was told I had to wait until open season on January
    I wanted to change my ins now because open for postal ins is now

    So what I’m asking Is it true I have to wait until Jan 2020?

    Any information would help. Thank you

  24. I have 2 questions, #1
    I’ve been receiving Ssi for 8 years, can I receive more money ? After Medicare my benefit is $1071.
    #2 I have been divorced from my ex for 15 years, he has not remarried. Can I receive his benefits in addition to mine ?

    • Hi, Diane. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. Also, keep in mind, to be eligible for divorced spouse benefits, you had to be married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, and you cannot be eligible for a higher benefit on your own record. For more information on how to qualify for divorced spouse benefits, visit here. We hope this helps.

    • Hi, William. If you are referring to military credits, under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for your military service from 1957 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings credits may increase the amount of your Social Security benefit. Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. They are not granted for inactive duty training.

      For more information on special extra earnings for military service, visit our Retirement Planner page. We would be happy to review your record to ensure that you are receiving what you are entitled to. For assistance, you can call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. We hope this helps.

  25. Thank u for clearing up some of the mumbo jumbo up. I wish all government offices would implement such co consideration to those of us that are clueless. Three cheers.

  26. My understanding 2 additional benefits when I filed may have been available to me when I originally filed that I was not aware of..Vietnam era honorable discharge military service .small increase.also supplemental based on income.may be called s.s.i.not sure please advise.sincerly danny ray gardner

    • Hi, Dan. If you are referring to military credits, under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for your military service from 1957 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings credits may increase the amount of your Social Security benefit. Special extra earnings credits are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. They are not granted for inactive duty training.

      For more information on special extra earnings for military service, visit our Retirement Planner. We would be happy to review your record. Please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask a representative to assist you. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the day. We hope this helps.

  27. I was married 40 years. I receive DSSI, she received SSI. Am I entitled to her benefits? She passed away about 3 yrs. ago.

  28. Why is the government using my social security money? Social Security was intended to be a savings account for our ( the citizens ) retirement. Did we ( the citizens ) get asked if it was okay to do that?
    Would just like to know.
    Just explain it to me in plain English.

    Sincerely,

    James Morgan.

  29. I have a general question regarding my Social Security account. I opted to receive my benefits last year, but I am still working, drawing W-2 wages. Why am I required to pay into Social Security although I am receiving social security benefits? It seems to me to be counter intuitive?
    Where does this contribution go? I don’t receive any benefit for paying into an account now that I am drawing my benefit. thanks.

  30. My wife will turn 66 in February 2020. When does she apply to receive her social security payments ? She is already receiving her Medicare. Thanks !

    • Hi, Bob. Social Security retirement applications can be filed up to 4 months in advance. Since she is already entitled to Medicare, she can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., to set up an appointment. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. She can also contact her local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  31. Having trouble signing in to my ss acct…tried my username & password a dozen times & ways. Don’t want to create a new one. What gives?

  32. i’m 65 years old right now, next year march 66yrs. old. I was born 1954 , still working full
    time. Am i still on a $17,620 limit next year after march?

  33. Thank you for this information. I have a question and hope you can help me. Today I received a notice how to opt-out of getting notices from SS by mail. My problem is the opposite……somehow I inadvertently opted out a year or so ago BY MISTAKE. I am 80 years old and really want to get my notice by mail. It’s what I understand. Can you help me with this? Thank you.
    Rose

    • Hi, Rose. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  34. If you want to stop filing taxes, how do you go about it? We don’t collect enough to file. How do I do this by the end of 2019?
    Thank You!

    • Thanks for your question, Jeannie. When you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits. If you work and are full retirement age or older, you may keep all of your benefits, no matter how much you earn, starting with the month you reach your full retirement age. On the other hand, if you return to work prior to your full retirement age and are receiving Social Security disability, special rules allow you to work temporarily without losing your monthly Social Security disability benefits. After your nine-month trial work period, we still provide a safety net that allows you to work another three years risk free. During those three years, you can work and still receive benefits for any month in which your earnings do not exceed a certain limit. For 2019, those limits are: $2,240 if you are legally blind; or $1,220 a month if you are not blind. For more information on working while receiving Social Security disability benefits, click here.

      Whether you are receiving Social Security or SSI, you may be able to work. Learn more information by reading our publication titled “Working while Disabled- How We Can Help.” We hope this helps.

  35. I’m appalled to hear by rejecting paper mail in favor of digital communication now means any new policy changes that may affect seniors now means “come and find it” without any insight as to what if anything may affect their benefits. Is this not counterintuitive of the cost savings of paper communication in favor of digital? If one has any expectation of being informed will now be required to consent to paper mail. This new policy smells of hiding the ball until it’s too late to adapt. Let’s not be ignorant to the fact the internet is not available to all. Or is there a reasonable expectation for the elderly to know or learn the required skills. Sends the message SSA or government as a whole is avoiding announcing something unpleasant.

  36. My husband and I were divorced 25 yrs ago..we said in our degree that we wouldn’t ask for each other pension and social security..we were married for 15 years..can he go and file on my social security….

    • Hi Mary. To be eligible for divorced spouse benefits, you had to be married to your former spouse for at least 10 years, you have to be age 62, and you cannot be eligible for a higher benefit on your own record. For more information about divorced spouse’s benefits, please visit our Benefits Planner: If You Are Divorced. For specific questions about your case, please call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We hope this information helps.

  37. Is it possible to claim tax exempt on your W2 when working parttime since I received all I paid in last year when I filed my income taxes. Turned full retirement age of 66 2018 retired at age 62.

  38. Is Cola an extra amount for everybody? Can you explain more about? How to qualify, how to request it, tell me more please.

  39. How does our government / Public Service Jobs discriminate against the REAL hidden minorities! Do you even know what they are, or are you just content swollowing whatever poisons the media, politicians, and special interest groups feed you???
    Look and examine ALL the facts. There a 7 continents and multitues of countries, sections, regions, religions,… etc. Are ALL EAUALLY represented in the US and even the world? Why?
    If only certain handful of groups constantly show up in the top jobs, positions of power and infuence, access to certain schools and careers, ,.,,, Keep looking and focus on details and the ‘entire power infrastructure’ of each country, state, city, corporation… what patterns do you see repeated that should frighten you….
    Then and ONLY then will you see and understand what is takeing place in our and the world society….
    Watch where the victoms are victomized and are used as cover-ups for organized criminals. They hide behind the innocent like kids, gender, sexual orientation, religion, color, race, nationalism, guns, anything that takes the attention of the real criminals out of the spotlight and shuts it down completely….
    All the Criminals have one thing in commonn here. They ALWAYS turn the blame on the victims and try to make the victoms seem as the evil ones. When you commint crimes you should NOT be able to use any of these cover-ups as a shield to get away with the crime. The punishment in those cases should at least be trippled or raised to a JUST LEVEL. In other words, an honest person trying to make a living should not be treated in the same manner as a billionaire that can afford to pay any fee to get away with a crime. To ME that’s NOT JUSTICE when it’s strictly based on wealth, position, or power. The real punishment and equality is jail time, equal conditions and terms of that jail time… etc… Payments depending on wealth on top of the real punichment…

    Tech.

  40. I have been receiving calls (messages on my phone) informing me that my Social Security will be blocked because of criminal activity and directing me to press 1 or call 443-342-2708. I know it’s a scam and want to report it. Is this the right site to report such scam? If not, please direct me. Thank you!

    • Hi Liliana. Thanks for letting us know about these calls. We do not usually make random calls. If anyone receives calls saying they are from Social Security, do not give out any personal information. Suspicious calls should be reported to the Office of the Inspector General online. You can also report these scams to the Federal Trade Commission through a site specific to Social Security scams, here. We hope this helps.

    • This Backlinks are generated by Abdulrasheed Michael Abayomi Aka ig Abrash…… happy Building and ranking.

      Thank you and keep giving us the information for all to use and enjoy. ´´You have come a long way´´

      Liteenthood

  41. I have a health plan through the government Postal Service did not apply for Part B will I be penalized if I apply for Part B now. Have heard no penalty is initiated if I have a good health plan. When can when can I apply for my part B

  42. Good Morning,

    My computer was hacked.
    The hacker got the last 4 digits of my SS#.
    Do I need to get a new number?

    THANK YOU in advance for your help!

Leave a Reply - (comment policy)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *