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Social Security Disability Glossary

At Brauchle Law Firm, our attorneys know that there are many confusing terms that go along with the application process for disability benefits. The Social Security disability glossary below provides simple definitions of commonly used words to help you better understand the forms you’re filling out and letters you receive from the Social Security Administration.

AIME: This is shorthand for Average Indexed Monthly Earnings, which is the dollar amount that the SSA uses to calculate your benefit claim if you reach age 62 or become disabled.

Appeal: If your claim has been denied, an appeal is the formal process of having the denial reconsidered. Read more from Houston Social Security attorneys about the Social Security Disability Appeals process.

Beneficiary: This is the person who will receive the disability benefits.

COLA: You’ll see this term often in newspaper articles. COLA, which stands for cost of living adjustment, is when the SSA raises your benefits amounts to keep up with the increasing costs of living expenses.

CPI: The Consumer Price Index measures the increasing prices for goods and services in the United States. These are used to calculate COLA, or cost of living, increases in benefits.

Disability Benefits: These are funds paid by the SSA to individuals unable to work due to disability. You’re eligible for benefits if you are under the full retirement age (FRA), have accumulated enough Social Security credits, and are going to be unable to work for at least a year. Read more on what our Houston Social Security lawyers say about disability requirements.

Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA): This refers to the tax that funds Social Security benefits. You’ll see it on your paycheck stubs, as it is deducted from employee’s checks, and the amounts are matched by your employer.

Full Retirement Age: When a person reaches full retirement age, or FRA, it means they are entitled to unreduced Social Security retirement benefits. The current age is 65, but it will gradually increase until it reaches age 67 in the year 2022. Early retirement age is 62, but you will get reduced benefits amounts.

Maximum Earnings: The total amount you earned for any calendar year. This amount is used when calculating your benefits.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This is a supplemental income program offered by the SSA to assist people who are disabled, aging or blind and have very low or no income.

Wage Earner: When you work and get a paycheck, you are a wage earner. As a wage earner, you are earning Social Security credits to later qualify for retirement benefits or disability benefits if needed.

For more help with the an application, appeal or questions about the process, the Houston Social Security lawyers at Brauchle Law Firm can help. Contact us today for a consultation.


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