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Common Social Security Disability Terms

ALJ – Administrative Law judge.  This is the person who will be making the decision about your disability at the hearing level.  The Judge runs the hearing, will ask you questions, and will ask questions of any experts present.

DDS – Disability Determination Services.  This is the agency, usually a state one, that makes the decision on your disability at the initial and reconsideration levels.  They are not judges and the ALJ is not bound by their decisions.

DIB – Disability Insured Benefits, also know as Title II claims or SSDI Benefits.  Think of this program like buying a long term disability policy.  Each quarter in a year that you have income, you can earn a quarter of coverage.  Enough quarters and you are eligible for this program.  But, if you don’t work or stop working, your coverage can end.

SSI – Supplemental Security Income, also know as Title XVI claims.  This is a poverty based disability program in which eligibility is based on the household income and assets.

AOD – Alleged Onset Date.  The date you told Social Security that you think you became disabled.

DLI – Date Last Insured.  The date that your eligibility for DIB benefits ends.

DLW – Date Last Worked.  The date you last earned any money from working.  In many cases this is also the alleged onset date, but not all cases.

RFC – Residual Function Capacity.  What work activities you can do after taking into account all your conditions and symptoms.

Protective Filing Date – The date that your SSI benefits are potentially retroactive to.  This may also be a retroactive date for your DIB benefits if your alleged onset date is more than 12 months prior to this date.

Back Due Benefits – Also called Retroactive Benefits.  The lump sum payment you receive, once approved, in a lump sum to cover the benefits you were due from the date you became disabled to the present.

CE Consultative Exam.  An exam requested by and paid for by SOcial Security to provide further evidence in your case.

VE – Vocational Expert.  An expert who may testify at your hearing about potential jobs that match an RFC.

ME – Medical Expert.  A doctor who testifies at hearing regarding your medical conditions.  NOTE : This is not any of your doctors.  The ME will never have treated or examined you and only reviews the medical evidence in the file.

While this list is not exhaustive of all the terminology that may be used during your Social Security disability case, these are the most important for you to know from the start