Man looking through a dictionary

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is a dizzying experience in part due to all the special terms and acronyms that are used. If you want to know what those social security disability terms mean, then Tabak Law is here to help. Take a look at the glossary guide that we’ve developed for you.

SSDI Term Glossary

The most difficult SSDI terms are acronyms because they have a further layer of abstraction between the term and definition. We are here to take care of that for you with our little handy glossary. We put the list in alphabetical order to make it a little easier to find an acronym that you may have questions about.

AIME—Average Indexed Monthly Earnings

When the SSA calculates your SSDI payment, they will look at your previous earnings. If you have never worked before then you will not actually qualify for SSDI. Specifically, the SSA will look at a certain number of your highest earning years—adjusted for inflation—and take an average to determine your AIME. This AIME will then be thrown into an equation to determine your PIA.

Read More: Calculation your SSDI Payment

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AOD—Alleged Onset Date

Onset dates specifically refer to when you became disabled. The one you fill in on your paperwork is called your alleged onset date. Do not take that term personally. Alleged has a negative connotation, but in this case, it is just used to denote the difference between your alleged date and the date the SSA will use which is called the EOD.

COLA—Cost of Living Adjustment

You’ve heard of the record-setting increase in Social Security payments for 2023, that increase is called the cost of living adjustment and it’s almost always represented as a percentage. It’s an automatic increase that is based on inflation in the third quarter of the previous year.

CPI-W—Consumer Price Index

The consumer price index is what your COLA is actually based on. There are actually several consumer price indexes, and the “W” in the above acronym denotes which consumer price index they use. Specifically, the “W” means that the SSA uses the Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers index.

EOD—Established Onset Date

Though your AOD is the onset date you put on your forms, the established onset date will be the date that the SSA determines based on supplied medical records and information. This is also the date that will be used to determine eligibility—based on the expected length of the disability—as well as back pay.

FICA—Federal Insurance Contributions Act

FICA taxes are the taxes withheld for programs like social security and medicare. Programs like SSDI and social security retirement are paid for through these types of taxes.

OASDI—Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance

When people pass on due to old age or disability, this is the benefit that your survivors may be eligible to collect. Survivors typically means a spouse or children.

Social security cards on cash

PIA—Primary Insurance Amount

This is the monthly benefit amount for those who reach full retirement age. If you become disabled and unable to work before you receive any SSA retirement benefits, then you will also receive this full amount.

Read More: How do You Pass a Continuing Disability Review?

SGA—Substantial Gainful Activity

Substantial gainful activity is an ongoing eligibility requirement of SSDI. Essentially, if you can or do earn more than this amount then you may be ineligible to earn benefits. If you are already receiving benefits then your benefit may end up under review. The amounts can change from year to year. For 2023, the SGA for the blind is $2,460 and for everyone else, it’s $1,470.

SSA—Social Security Administration

You will see this one thrown around a lot and it just means the Social Security Administration, which is the official federal agency that handles all social security matters including SSDI and SSI.

SSDI—Social Security Disability Insurance

We’ve littered this one all over the page, but it just refers to government-provided disability insurance. Specifically, this program is reserved for people who have worked but whose disability prevents them from working. This program is paid for through FICA taxes on wages earned.

SSI—Supplemental Security Income

Unlike SSDI, supplemental security income does not have a work history requirement. In other words, if your disability has always prevented you from working, this is the program you should be on. It is a needs-based program that is paid out of general taxes.

5 Social Security Disability Myths

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