Social Security Disability Glossary
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) – the judge that will preside over your Social Security Disability hearing.
Appeal – if you are denied benefits, you have 60 days to file a Request for Hearing or Request for Reconsideration, both of which are types of appeal.
Appeals Council – if you are denied benefits at your hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, this is the next level of appeals. The Appeals Council can determine if the ALJ made an error and can award, deny, or send your claim back to the ALJ for reconsideration. Expect to wait 9-30 months after your Hearing for a decision from the Appeals Council.
Cessation – when your benefits are ended for either a medical or non-medical reason.
Claimant – the person applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.
Closed Period – a time period in the past of at least 12 months when you were disabled and qualified for benefits. Benefits may be awarded for a closed period if you were disabled, but have since been able to return to work.
Consultative Medical Exam (CE) – an examination by a doctor required and paid for by Social Security to evaluate your medical disability claim.
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – as the cost of living increases, SSI and SSD benefits may be increased each year by the Social Security Administration. In 2012, the COLA was a 3.6% increase from 2011.
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Date Last Insured – this is the date that the credits earned toward Social Security Disability run out, and depends entirely on your work history and payment of FICA taxes toward Social Security. You must be found disabled before this date in order to qualify for SSD benefits.
Disability Determination Services (DDS) – the state agency that determines eligibility for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits at both the application and reconsideration stages.
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) – another name for Social Security Disability benefits. You may be eligible if you have adequate work history and have paid FICA taxes.
District Office – your local Social Security Administration branch. This office will process your claim.
Established Onset Date (EOD) – the date used by the Social Security Administration as the date when your disability began.
FICA Tax – a tax withheld from your paycheck that funds Social Security Disability Benefits.
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Five Month Waiting Period – the default waiting period for Social Security Disability benefits that is required by law. From your Established Date of Onset, you cannot receive payments for the following 5 months. For example, if your EOD is January 1, you are not eligible to receive payments until June 1.
Listing of Impairments – a list maintained by the Social Security Administration. The listings describe medical findings, symptoms, and test results associated with eligible diagnoses. In order to qualify for SSD or SSI, you must meet or exceed the severity of the conditions listed here. If you do not, you may still be eligible if you are unable to work due to disability.
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Medicaid – a program to provide health care benefits to those who meet low-income requirements. Those who qualify for SSI benefits are immediately eligible for Medicaid.
Medicare – a program to provide health care benefits to those over age 65 and the disabled. Those who qualify for SSD benefits are eligible to receive Medicare 2 years after the first month you are entitled to SSD benefits.
Notice of Award – a letter from Social Security detailing whether you will receive back benefits and how much your monthly payments will be.
Notice of Hearing – no later than 20 days before your hearing, you will receive a letter with the date, time, and location of your scheduled hearing.
On the Record Decision – before your hearing is scheduled, an Administrative Law Judge may make a favorable decision for you based on available medical evidence.
PA State Supplement – if you qualify for any amount of SSI benefits and are a resident of the state of Pennsylvania, you will receive an additional sum each month.
Representative Payee – if you are awarded Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits and are deemed unable to handle your financial responsibilities, you may be required to appoint a representative payee to assist with finances.
Retroactive Benefits – not the same as Back Benefits, these are the benefits that you are entitled to from before your application date. Retroactive benefits can be paid from a period one year before the application date or 6 months after you became disabled, whichever is applicable, until the time that you begin receiving Social Security Disability payments.
Social Security Credits – also known as quarters, these are earned by working and paying FICA taxes. A maximum of four credits may be earned each year, and are based on income. The number and expiration date of these credits determine if you are technically eligible for SSD benefits.
SSDI – another name for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). It stands for Social Security Disability Insurance.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) – Eligibility for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income requires that you are unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity. Work is considered substantial if it exceeds a limit set yearly by the Social Security Administration. In 2012, the SGA limit was $1,010 per month.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – a federal program for those who meet low-income and asset requirements set by the Social Security administration and who are disabled.
Title II – another name for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
Title XVI – another name for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Trial Work Period (TWP) – if you go back to work while you are receiving Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, you can still receive payments during this period. You are considered to be in a Trial Work Period if you earn more than a certain amount, $720 per month in 2012. You may stay in this period for up to 9 months of work (not necessarily continuous) in a rolling 60-month period.
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