Social Security Disability Glossary: Common Terms & Forms

The Social Security Application Glossary

Did you know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued over 453 million Social Security numbers since November 1936? And that the organization continues to assign about 5.5 million new numbers per year? While millions of individuals receive benefits, there are also millions that are denied, often due to avoidable mistakes that can be blamed on inexperience.

The following terms are meant to be an overview of the application procedures, and to help you become more familiar with the specific language, processes and requirements.

If you have questions about the application process, feel free to contact our office at (800) 248-1100 or get a free case evaluation at http//

Glossary of Common Terms & Phrases Related To Social Security Applications

  • Date of Onset (DOD) – the date you became disabled.
  • Work Record – Social Security Administration’s record of a worker’s earnings subject to taxes.
  • Beneficiary – any person who is entitled to Social Security support.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – an assistance program for people over age 65, blind, or disabled with very low income and/or little access to resources. To learn more, visit our blog post about trusts and SSI.
  • Full Reduction – this is the maximum percentage to which your award will be reduced if you collect Social Security compensation at your early retirement age.
  • Early Retirement Age – the earliest age at which you may be entitled to benefits. This is 62 for retirees and their spouses, and 60 for widows unless they are disabled. If you draw aid at age 60, the payment will be “fully reduced”.
  • Reduced Benefits – assistances are most commonly reduced because individuals draw them before they reach “normal retirement age”.
  • Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) – based on past 35 years’ wages that have been averaged and indexed for year-by-year wage growth. The annual average is then divided by 12 (12 months in a year) to get the monthly average.
  • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – if the average price of goods went up in a year (inflation), there will also be an adjustment in Social Security benefits.
  • Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB) – if the individual was younger than 22-years-old when the disability began, he or she may be eligible for to receive Childhood Disability Benefits, dependent on the kinds of taxes the parents paid to Social Security.
  • Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) – With the input of a medical professional, the Social Security Administration will weigh how much physical, mental and emotional stress you can reasonably handle, and how this can affect your ability to work.
  • Past Relevant Work (PRW) – when the SSA determines whether or not you should receive financial assistance, they examine the jobs you’ve performed during an extended time during the last 15 years, referred to as ‘past relevant work.’ They will scrutinize both the demands of the roles, as well as whether assistance was necessary as you performed them.
  • Retroactive benefits – you may be entitled to receive compensation for the time you were out of work prior to the actual application being approved. These monthly payments are called “retroactive benefits.”

To receive aid quickly, send in an application as soon as you can; the earlier the application date, the earlier you may collect. It will take some time for them to be processed, but getting them in sooner can only help you. It is also important to be thorough with your forms and list everything accurately. Your application will take much more time to process if you leave spaces blank or do not answer questions in the proper format. When answering form questions, it is imperative that you be very specific and truthful about what you can and cannot do – and especially about how your health affects daily tasks. After your forms are sorted, the information from these forms will be used in your claim at a later date.

Forms & Links

  • The Disability Application Checklist provided on Social Security’s website, will give you a list of documents you must gather in order to complete the appropriate forms.
  • SSA-3373 Function Report-Adult
    This form tells the SSA exactly how your impairment affects your daily activities and your ability to work. Thus, it also informs them of your physical and mental proficiency. You must answer questions similar to – ‘How does the disability affect how you care for yourself (such as feeding/eating capabilities and performing personal hygiene tasks)?’
  •  SSA-3380 Function Report Adult-Third Party Form
    This third-party form is meant for an agency, friend or family member applying for compensation on behalf of the disabled individual. Filling out this document requires thorough, in-depth knowledgeable of your loved one’s condition. It is 10 pages and cannot be filled out by a doctor.
  • SSA-3369 Work History Report
    This report details past jobs you’ve held and the specific skills you needed to complete them. If you’ve just suffered an injury, this form will also let Social Security know if and how the condition will keep you from performing work requirements. However, you will not be considered disabled if there are other jobs you can still execute.

Over 70% of initial applications are denied, but our team of lawyers and case managers have had great success assisting individuals in need of Social Security compensation.  We’ve dealt with the elaborate system and know exactly which files, documents, exams and records you need to provide you a better chance at SSA benefits. You get well, while we do the work.

If you have any questions or need assistance with paperwork, please call toll free at (800)-248-1100. To learn more about what we can do for you, visit our page about hiring a lawyer