DSCF2297By Kylle’ D. McKinney

Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

In the course of doing business with Social Security, you probably have come across more than a few acronyms or terms that left you scratching your head.  For example: Your FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) contributions aren’t the only factor to affect your OASDI (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) payments and eligibility. You also must consider such items as insured status, month of election, and PIA (Primary Insurance Amount). Your protective filing date can make a difference as well. And each year the amount of your payment is subject to change as the CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers) brings about a new COLA (cost-of-living adjustment).

Although we try to use plain language when communicating with the public, we understand that there are many Social Security terms that are considered jargon to people not steeped in agency policy. Once in a while you may want to look up a term used in official notices or complicated explanations of how benefits are computed. Don’t worry. Social Security has its very own glossary to help.

The Glossary Of Social Security Terms is available online at We also have an English to Spanish version of the glossary, available at

Also, check out our library of easy-to-understand publications at Chances are you’ll seldom find a word that isn’t easy to understand, thanks to our focus on conversational writing style. In fact, we’re the only federal agency to get straight A’s on the 2013 “Plain Writing Report Card” from the Center for Plain Language.

If you do encounter a word or phrase you don’t recognize, the place to go is


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here