Social Security terms and acronyms    

The SSA provides monthly updates and information. To learn more visit ssa.gov.

The SSA provides monthly updates and information. To learn more visit ssa.gov.

Some of the terms and acronyms people use when they talk about Social Security can be a little confusing. We’re here to help you understand.

We strive to explain your benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to communicate information clearly in a way “the public can understand and use.”

This can be particularly challenging when talking about complicated programs like Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare.

If there’s a technical term or acronym that you don’t know, you can find the meaning in our online glossary at ssa.gov/agency/glossary.

Here are a few examples:

If you’re considering retirement, you may want to know your FRA — full retirement age; and your PIA — primary insurance amount.

These terms determine your benefit amount based on when you when you start getting requirement benefits.

The PIA is the amount payable for a retired worker who starts his or her benefits at full retirement age. If you start your retirement benefits at your FRA, you’ll receive the full PIA.

Most years, your benefit amount will get a COLA — Cost-of-Living Adjustment, which usually means extra money in your monthly benefit.

What about DRCs — delayed retirement credits? DRCs are the gradual increases to your PIA that occur the longer you delay taking retirement benefits after your full retirement age.

Every month you delay taking benefits, up to age 70, your monthly benefit will increase.

If one of these terms or acronyms comes up in conversation, you can be the one to help clarify the meaning, using our online glossary. Learning the terminology can deepen your understanding of how Social Security programs work for you.

Social Security benefits you

SSA takes pride in having provided vital benefits and services to this great nation for 86 years.

America has a diverse population with a variety of needs. To meet those diverse needs, we’ve created web pages that speak directly to groups of people who may need information about our programs and services.

Here are just a few resources that might help you or someone you love:

• We proudly serve wounded warriors and veterans, who made sacrifices to preserve the freedoms Americans treasure. Many veterans do not know they might be eligible for disability benefits from Social Security. For more information visit ssa.gov/people/veterans.

• Social Security plays an important role in providing economic security for women. Nearly 55 percent of the people receiving Social Security benefits are women.

A woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live, on average, until about 87. A 65-year-old man can expect to live, on average, until about 84.

With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater risk of exhausting their sources of income.

Women often have lower lifetime earnings than men, which usually means lower benefits. Women need to plan early and wisely for retirement.

For information and help planning for retirement years visit ssa.gov/people/women.

• Now is the best time for someone who is just starting their career to start preparing for retirement. Social Security benefit payments provide only a portion of retirement income.

Those starting their careers should begin saving early to have adequate income in retirement. For more information visit ssa.gov/people/earlycareer.

These are just a few of the web pages tailored to specific groups’ needs. You can check out our People Like Me home page at ssa.gov/people to see all of them.