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Top Disability Terms In SSDI And SSI Cases

Social Security Disability Lawyer In Tulsa OK Defines Common Phrases, Terms And Abbreviations

Our Tulsa disability attorneys understand how complicated the Supplement Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process can be. When filling out paperwork or reading information about benefits, some words may be unfamiliar.

With this in mind, below is a glossary of commonly used terms by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when describing disability benefits.

Disability Terms to Know

ALJ, or Administration Law Judge

When you are appealing a benefit decision, you may have a hearing before an ALJ, who can award you benefits.

Alleged Onset of Disability, or Alleged Onset Date

The date you claim your inability to work began used to determine retroactive back pay, which is discussed below.

Appeal, or Disability Claim Appeal

When applying for benefits, you will receive a letter from the SSA explaining its determination of your eligibility. If the agency determines that you are not eligible SSDI, then an appeals process exists that includes hearings before ALJs and an Appeals Council.

Application for Disability Benefits

If you were to receive SSDI, then you must complete and sign an initial application. On the application, the SSA will ask you questions about your functionality as well as your disabilities. It may also require verification or evidence of your condition.

Benefit Verification Letter

A letter that verifies the amount an individual receives each month in benefits, usually sent at the request of a beneficiary.

Claimant, or Applicant

The term used to describe the person seeking Social Security benefits.

Consultative Examination

A medical exam that the SSA may require to process a benefit claim.

COLA, or Cost of Living Adjustment

Social Security recipients may receive a cost-of-living adjustment or raise in benefits based on inflation.

Credits, or Social Security Credits

When you work, you earn credits that then count toward your eligibility for future Social Security benefits, including SSDI.

Decision Notice, or Award Letter or Denial Letter

The letter generated by the SSA informing you of a benefit decision.

Family Maximum

The maximum amount of benefits paid to an entire family on a worker’s record.

FICA Tax, or Federal Insurance Contributions Act Tax

The tax that is withheld from paychecks for funding Social Security and Medicare programs.


Earnings used to determine benefit amounts including:

  • Earned Income – Wages and money from self–employment, royalties, honoraria and sheltered workshop payments
  • Unearned Income – Such as Social Security benefits, pensions, state disability payments and unemployment benefits
  • In–Kind Income – Income considered to be for food or shelter that you get for free or less than fair market value
  • Deemed Income – From a spouse, parent or sponsor, which could be used to compute benefits

Listings of Impairments

Many conditions are listed in a manual known as the “Blue Book,” which contains information for about processes through which disability determinations are decided.

Maximum Earnings

The maximum amount of earnings the SSA can count in any calendar year when computing benefits totals.

Number Holder

A wage earner or person who earns Social Security credits.

OASDI, or Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance

The SSA’s retirement program that is separate from SSDI and SSI—this can be confusing, as the program is often referred to simply as “Social Security.”

Payment Date

The day on which your payments are allotted each month depends on different factors. To view the SSA’s payment schedule, you can click here.

POMS, or Program Operations Manual System

Source of information Social Security employees use to process claims for benefits.


Documents submitted by individuals applying for benefits and services, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, W2 forms, tax returns as well as deeds. Most documents must be original copies or certified.

Representative Payee

If someone is unable to handle their own financial affairs, then the SSA may appoint a relative, a friend or an interested party to handle payments.

Retroactive Benefits, or Back Pay

To determine back pay, the SSA uses criteria including the date at which you were disabled, the application date and the waiting period, which is the period that takes place between when you apply.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

These benefits are available to low-income individuals who have not worked or do not have credits. If you are not eligible for SSDI, then this may be an option for you.

Survivors Benefits

Benefits paid to widows, children and parents for people who died after earning sufficient work credits.

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Reach Out to Our Tulsa SSDI Attorneys If You Have Questions about Disability Benefits

For more information and a free evaluation, then call (918) 265-1404 or fill out the case review form today. Our Tulsa SSDI lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not collect money unless we succeed in obtaining you benefits. Our attorney fees are regulated by the SSA and come only from the past-due disability benefits we recover on your behalf. All future monthly payments are yours to keep!

Why Choose Troutman & Troutman?

  • Committed to Keeping You Informed

    We understand that this can be a stressful and confusing time which, is why we pride ourselves on doing everything we can to keep you informed and knowledgeable about your case. Not only do we have an array of video and FAQs, but we also allow you direct access to your dedicated attorney.

  • Dedicated & Trusted Counsel

    Our attorneys are passionate about disability law. Everyone who works at our firm is here because they believe in helping people. We commit to representing clients through every part of the Social Security Disability claims process.

  • Over 25 Years of Dedicated Experience

    Since 1993, our attorneys have been helping people throughout Oklahoma get the Social Security benefits they deserve. Regardless of where you are in your case, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys are here to help you obtain what you deserve.

  • Disability Law Is All We Do

    Social Security Disability is a unique area of the law because it is about representing clients going through very difficult times. We help by getting people the benefits they have earned and deserve. Our firm is proud of the fact that disability law is all we do.

    I didn't think there was a caring professional considerate attorney firm on the planet, but Troutman & Troutman proved me wrong. From the receptionist to the legal assistance to the attorney and more they were exceptional people.

    - Robert S.

    They did a fantastic job getting everything gathered up and getting the trial done as quickly as possible. Anytime I had a question they were patient and help me understand what was going on. Especially Christy and Charlie were great.

    - Michael M.

    Steve Troutman was able to get my short-term and long-term disability for me. Then Erin another lawyer for their firm got my Social security disability for me. Great people.

    - Billy S.

    Mr. Troutman walked me through the entire process. Heather was available each time I called, answered all my crazy questions, and helped me fill out forms along the way. I was never treated like I was wasting time.

    - Julia C.

    Erin and Keith were fabulous! They were compassionate, helpful, and very responsive! They made the process very smooth and painless every step of the way.

    - Valerie W.

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