Social security in plain language
Some of the terms and acronyms people use when they talk about Social Security can be confusing.
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to communicate 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 easily find the meaning in an online glossary at www.ssa.gov/agency/glossary.
Acronyms are a part of everyday life. Social Security’s acronyms function as shorthand in conversations about its programs and services. If you’re nearing retirement, you may want to know what PIA (primary insurance amount), FRA (full retirement age) and DRCs (delayed retirement credits) mean. These terms describe your benefit amount — based on when you decide to take it. If you take your retirement benefit at FRA, you’ll receive the full PIA (amount payable for a retired worker who starts benefits at full retirement age). So, FRA is an age and PIA is an amount.
Once you receive benefits, you get a COLA most years. A COLA is a Cost-of-Living Adjustment, and that will usually mean a little extra money in your monthly benefit.
What about DRCs? Delayed retirement credits are the incremental increases added to the PIA if you delay taking retirement benefits beyond your full retirement age. If you wait to begin benefits beyond FRA — say, at age 68 or even 70 — your benefit increases.
If one of those terms or acronyms comes up in conversation, you can be the one to supply the definition using the Social Security online glossary. Sometimes learning the terminology can deepen your understanding of how Social Security works for you.
Source: Social Security Administration