Discover the New Learn more

Social Security A to Z Glossary

Everything you need to know about the program that provides benefits to so many


Hearing: An appeal that takes place before an administrative law judge. The hearing stage of an appeal is where an initial Social Security Administration determination is most likely to be reversed.


Insured status: Your status toward eligibility for Social Security, based on your total number of work credits. Generally, you need to be "fully insured" to receive full Social Security benefits; however, in certain cases, "currently insured status" with fewer work credits may allow for widow/widower or child benefits.


Lifetime earnings: See earnings record.

Listing of impairments: An official compilation of highly severe conditions, including detailed criteria that enable an individual to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Lump-sum death benefit: A one-time payment of $255 to the spouse or child of a covered worker who dies (in addition to any monthly survivors benefits that are due). The survivor must file for the lump-sum death benefit within two years of the worker's death.


Marriage: A legal marriage between a man and woman, including state-recognized common-law marriages. (The Social Security Administration follows a federal restriction against recognizing same-sex marriage, even when it is recognized by a state.)

Maximum earnings: The maximum amount of taxable earnings counted in any calendar year ($113,700 in 2013) when computing your Social Security benefit.

Maximum family benefit: See family maximum.

Medicare: The government health insurance program for individuals 65 and older, as well as some others, including those receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years or more.

Month of election: Generally, the month an individual chooses to begin receiving retirement benefits.

My Social Security: A website ( operated by the Social Security Administration that lets you set up an online account to use during your working years as well as while receiving Social Security benefits. You can use it to get your Social Security Statement and review estimates of your benefits, your earnings record and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you've paid.


Normal retirement age: See full retirement age (FRA).


OASDI: See Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI).

Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI): The formal name for Social Security, including benefits for retirement, survivors, disabled workers and dependent family members.

Overpayment notice: Formal notification that the Social Security Administration believes you have been overpaid and owe it money. You may challenge an overpayment notice by filing a request for reconsideration or waiver of recovery.

Next page: P - R »

Social Security Tools

Social Security Benefits Calculator Icon

Social Security Benefits Calculator

Use this tool to estimate how much income Social Security will provide you based on when you choose to begin your benefits

Chained CPI calculator

Chained CPI Calculator

See how much your Social Security and/or veterans' benefits could be cut if Congress uses the chained CPI to determine annual cost-of-living increases

Social Security QA Tool

Social Security Q&A Tool

Have a question about Social Security? It's very likely AARP has the answer

Health Care Costs Calculator

Are you saving enough for Health Care? Learn how your health can affect your retirement

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Jobs You Might Like

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits Cricket Wireless Cellular

Members can save $20 on wireless devices from Cricket. Conditions apply.

membership adt

Small business owners save 20% on new installation of any new ADT security system.

UPS Store membership discount aarp benefits

Members save 15% on eligible products/services and 5% on UPS shipping at The UPS Store®.

Member Benefits

Renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.