- Written by John Johnston John Johnston
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 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.
John Johnston is a Social Security public affairs specialist.