Maximum Earnings

The maximum amount of earnings we can count in any calendar year when computing your Social Security benefit.


A joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for people with low incomes and limited resources.

Medicaid programs vary from state to state, but most health care costs are covered if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

Month of Election

This usually applies to retirement claims. In certain situations, you can choose the month in which your benefits will start.

Normal Retirement Age

See Full Retirement Age

Number Holder

See Wage Earner.

Nutrition Assistance Programs

The U. S. Department of Agriculture program that helps needy families buy food.

OASDI (Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance)

The Social Security programs that provide monthly cash benefits to you and your dependents when you retire, to your surviving dependents, and to disabled workers and their dependents.

Old-Law Base

Amount the contribution and benefit base would have been if the 1977 amendments had not provided for ad hoc increases. The Social Security Amendments of 1972 provided for automatic annual indexing of the contribution and benefit base. The Social Security Amendments of 1977 provided for ad hoc increases to the bases for 1979 81, with subsequent bases updated in accordance with the normal indexing procedure.

Payment Dates for Social Security Benefits

If you applied for Social Security benefits before May 1, 1997, your payments usually are dated and delivered on the 3rd of the month following the month for which the payment is due. For example, payments for January are delivered on February 3rd.

If the 3rd of the month is a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday, your payments are dated and delivered on the first day before the 3rd of the month which is not a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday. For example, if the 3rd is a Saturday or Sunday, payments are delivered on the preceding Friday.

If you filed for Social Security benefits May 1, 1997, or later, you are assigned one of three new payment days based on date of birth:

  • Born: 1st through the 10th of the month – Delivered: Second Wednesday of the month
  • Born: 11th through 20th of the month – Delivered: Third Wednesday of the month
  • Born: 21st through end of the month – Delivered: Fourth Wednesday of the month

If your scheduled Wednesday payment day is a Federal holiday, we’ll send your payment on the preceding day that is not a Federal legal holiday.

Payment Dates for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Payments

SSI payments are usually dated and delivered on the first day of the month for which they are due. However, if the first falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday, they are dated and delivered on the first day preceding the first of the month which is not a Saturday, Sunday or Federal holiday.

PIA (Primary Insurance Amount)

The monthly amount payable if you are a retired worker who begins receiving benefits at full retirement age or if you’re disabled and have never received a retirement benefit reduced for age.

Present Value

The equivalent value, at the present time, of a future stream of payments (either income or cost). The present value of a future stream of payments may be thought of as the lumpsum amount that, if invested today, together with interest earnings would be just enough to meet each of the payments as they fell due. Present values are used widely in calculations involving financial transactions over long periods of time to account for the time value of money (interest). Present-value calculations for this report use the effective yield on trust fund assets.

Protective Filing Date

The date you first contact us about filing for benefits. It may be used to establish an earlier application date than when we receive your signed application.

Reduction Months

Months beginning with the first month you’re entitled to reduced benefits up to, but not including, the month in which you reach full retirement age.

Representative Payee

If you receive Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and become unable to handle your own financial affairs, we (after a careful investigation) appoint a relative, a friend, or an interested party to handle your Social Security matters.

Representative payees are required to maintain complete accounting records and periodically provide reports to Social Security. For additional information see Representative Payee Program.

Retirement Age – Full Benefits

Full retirement age was 65 for many years. However, beginning with the year 2000 (for workers and spouses born in 1938 or later, or widows or widowers born in 1940 or later), the retirement age increases gradually from age 65 until it reaches age 67 in the year 2022.

Retirement Age – Minimum

The minimum age for retirement-age 62 for workers, and age 60 for widows or widowers. You can choose a reduced benefit anytime before you reach full retirement age

Retirement Earnings Test

If you receive monthly Social Security benefits before your full retirement age and work, your earnings from wages and/or self-employment cannot exceed a certain amount without reducing your monthly benefits.

Retirement Eligibility Age

The age, currently age 62, at which a fully insured individual first becomes eligible to receive retired-worker benefits.

Retroactive Benefits (Back Pay)

Monthly benefits that you may be entitled to before the month you actually apply, if you meet the requirements

Retirement Benefit

Money that is payable to you upon retirement if you have enough Social Security credits.

Self-Employment Income

You are self-employed if you operate a trade, business or profession, either individually or as a partner, and have net earnings of $400 or more in a taxable year.

Social Security

Social Security is based on a simple concept: While you work, you pay taxes into the Social Security system, and when you retire or become disabled, you, your spouse and your dependent children receive monthly benefits that are based on your reported earnings. Also, your survivors can collect benefits if you die.

Social Security Number (Social Security Card)

Your first and continuous link with Social Security is your nine-digit Social Security Number. It helps us to maintain an accurate record of your wages or self-employment earnings that are covered under the Social Security Act, and to monitor your record once you start getting Social Security benefits.

Social Security Office

Your local Social Security office is the place where you can:

  • apply for a Social Security number
  • check on your earnings record
  • apply for Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and hospital insurance (Medicare) protection
  • enroll for medical insurance
  • get help applying for food stamps and
  • learn everything you need to know about your rights and obligations under the Social Security law

There is no charge for any of our services. You can also call our toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213, to receive all these services. Our TTY number is 1-800-325-0778. This toll-free telephone number service is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. any business day. All calls are confidential.


You are the spouse of the worker if, when he or she applied for benefits:

  • you and the worker were married
  • you would have the status of a husband or a wife for that person’s personal property if they had no will
  • you went through a marriage ceremony in good faith, which would have been valid except for a legal impediment
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

A federal supplemental income program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It helps aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources by providing monthly cash payments to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Survivors Benefits

Benefits based on your record (if you should die) are paid to your:

  • widow/widower age 60 or older, 50 or older if disabled, or any age if caring for a child under age 16 or disabled before age 22
  • children, if they are unmarried and under age 18, under 19 but still in school, or 18 or older but disabled before age 22
  • parents if you provided at least one-half of their support

An ex-spouse could also be eligible for a widow/widower’s benefit on your record. A special one-time lump sum payment of $255 may be made to your spouse or minor children.

Taxable Earnings

Wages or self-employment income, in employment covered by the OASDI or HI programs, that are under the applicable annual maximum taxable limit. For 1994 and later, no maximum taxable limit applies to the HI program.

Taxable Self-Employment Income

The maximum amount of net earnings from self-employment by an earner which, when added to any taxable wages, does not exceed the contribution and benefit base. For HI beginning in 1994, all net earnings from self-employment.

Taxation of Benefits

Beginning in 1984, Federal law subjected up to 50 percent of an individual’s or a couple’s OASDI benefits to Federal income taxation under certain circumstances. Treasury allocates the revenue derived from this provision to the OASI and DI Trust Funds on the basis of the income taxes paid on the benefits from each fund. Beginning in 1994, the law increased the maximum percentage from 50 percent to 85 percent. The HI Trust Fund receives the additional tax revenue resulting from the increase to 85 percent.


Cessation of payment because the beneficiary is no longer entitled to receive a specific type of benefit.

Wage Earner

A person who earns Social Security credits while working for wages or self-employment income. Sometimes referred to as the “Number Holder” or “Worker.”


All payment for services performed for an employer. Wages do not have to be cash. The cash value of all compensation paid to an employee in any form other than cash is also considered wages, unless the form of payment is specifically not covered under the Social Security Act


You are the widow/widower of the worker if, at the time the insured person died:

  • you and the worker were validly married
  • you would have the status of a husband or a wife for that person’s personal property if he or she had no will
  • you went through a marriage ceremony in good faith that would have been valid except for a legal impediment
  • The minimum age for widows benefits is 60, or 50 if disabled.

    Lump Sum Death Payment

    A one-time payment of $255 paid in addition to any monthly survivors benefits that are due. This benefit is paid only to your widow/widower or minor children.