Many people benefit from Supplemental Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, though making it through the application process can be intimidating and challenging. The language involved in the forms and instructions is pulled from highly technical Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations, and many terms are not particularly clear to applicants.

In too many cases, a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of certain terminology can lead to errors on an application that lead to a denial. Having the help of an experienced SSDI lawyer can be highly beneficial for this and many other reasons. The following are only some examples of terms you should know if you are filing an SSDI claim.

Listing of Impairments

The SSA publishes listings for children and adults that set out the different categories of disabling conditions that qualify for SSDI benefits. This is also commonly referred to as the “Blue Book.”

Alleged Onset Date (AOD)

This is the date on which you first began experiencing the disabling condition that limits your ability to work or prevents you from working altogether. From this date, the condition must be expected to persist for a year or longer, or it must be deemed terminal.

Date Last Insured (DLI)

This refers to the last date you are eligible to receive Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). In order to receive SSDI you must pass the “recent work test.” This means that you need to have worked the past 5 out of 10 years. More specifically, you must have worked 20 of the last 40 quarters.

Filing Date

This is the date the SSA receives your SSDI benefits application, and when the claims process officially begins. This is a critical date because if you qualify for retroactive benefits, you can only receive them for the 12 months prior to the filing date, although the first 5 months are exempted; thus it is 7 months.

Residual Functional Capacity

Your residual functional capacity – or RFC – is the maximum level of effort you can successfully put toward job-related tasks due to your disability-related restrictions. The SSA will examine your physical limitations, mental limitations, or both when applicable to determine your RFC. This RFC will lead to the decision whether you still have the ability to perform your previous job or other positions.

Substantial Gainful Activity

Your substantial gainful activity (SGA) helps to measure whether you are able to earn enough income per month through work with the limitations of your disability. This is a figure set by the SSA, which is adjusted each year for inflation and other relevant factors, and it is considered to be the amount that is considered “substantial” enough that you do not need SSDI benefits. This means that if you earn more than the SGA amount for a particular year, the SSA will deny your benefits application, with only some exceptions. If you earn some income, but it is less than the SGA level, you may still qualify for benefits. For 2020, the SGA limits are as follows:

  • $1260 for non-blind applicants or benefits recipients
  • $2110 for statutorily blind applicants or benefits recipients

Trial Work Period

If you begin receiving benefits and believe you might be able to work, you do not want to give up your benefits and have to repeat the application process if it turns out you cannot earn a sufficient living. You can have a trial work period during which you can earn income and still qualify for benefits to determine whether you are able to return to the workforce or not.