Social Security Disability Definitions and Terms Used

This page will give the definition for commonly used terms in Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims.

The SSI and SSDI terms defined in this section are words and abrieviations of words you should know if you are applying for or are in the process of trying to get SSDI or SSI benefits.  To get a social security definition of a word or phrase commonly used in a disability claim just click on the word or phrase and you will be directed to the definition.  Knowing these terms can be helpful in winning your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.  The terms are on the left side of the page and the corresponding answers are on the right.  Those highlighted will bring you to another page.

Ask a Lawyer

  1. What is Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA?
  2. What does Date of Last Insured or DLI mean?
  3. What is the Onset Date?
  4. What is Past Relevant Work?
  5. What are work quarters?
  6. What is an exertioanal limitation?
  7. What is a non-exertional limitation?
  8. What does Social Security mean by sedentary work?
  9. What does Social Security mean by light work?
  10. What does Social Security mean by medium work?
  11. What is a medically determinable impairment?
The following is additional Social Security terms.  Click on the question and you will be sent to section of site that explains the answer.

SSDI and SSI Explanation of Terms and Definitions

Social Security Disability and SSI Definitions.
  1. For the year 2008 if you earned over $940 a month it will be considered Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA.  (For 2009 if you earned over $980 a month.)
  2. The DLI is the last date you are insured up to.  To get SSDI benefits you must be found disabled before this date.
  3. The date of onset (DOD) is the date you became disabled.
  4. Past Relevant Work is any work you performed in the past 15 years that is considered Substantial Gainful Activity.
  5. When you pay taxes from working you pay into the Social Security System.  This is also called credits.  You get up to 4 credits per year.  You need 40 credits to be eligible for Social Security benefits.  You may need less if you are younger. Work Credits (quarters of coverage) for 2006:  $970 in earnings equals one credit and $3,880 is the maximum earnings needed for four credits in a given year.  To be insured for disability, the worker must be fully insured and have at least 20 work credits during the last 40 calendar quarters.
    In general, if you have worked consistently you are usually covered for SSDI benefits for 5 years after you stop working.
  6. Exertional limitations are standing, walking, sitting, lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling.
  7. Non-exertional limitations is job requirements that are not exertional.  Some examples are mental limitations, handling, fingering, feeling, talking hearing, seeing, stooping, balance.
  8. Sedentary Work- Exerting up to 10 lbs of force occasionally and/or a negligible amount of force frequently to lift, carry, push pull or otherwise move objects.  This work involves mostly sitting but may involve brief periods of walking or standing.
  9. Light Work-      Exerting up to 20 lbs of force occasionally and/or up to 10 lbs of force frequently and/or a negligible amount of force to lift, carry, push pull or otherwise move objects.  Even if the weight lifted may be a negligible amount a job should be rated as light if it requires walking or standing to a significant degree or when it requires sitting most of the time but requires pushing and pulling of leg controls or if production rate requires constant pushing and pulling materials of negligible amounts.
  10. Medium Work-  Exerting 20 to 50 lbs of force occasionally, and/or 10 to 25lbs of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 lbs of force constantly to move objects.
  11. A medically determinable impairment is an impairment (physical or mental) that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.  A physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms and laboratory findings-not only by the individuals statement of symptoms. 

 We have attempted to provide up to date and accurate information, however the information in this site is not guaranteed.  No attorney client realtionship exist.  The information in this site is not a substitute for consultation with a quilified attorney.
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Here you will find common Social Security definitions and terms.