December 8, 2022

SSDI Terms Can Be Confusing: Allsup Explains Alphabet Soup

Navigating the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process can be challenging without the help of experts who understand the ins and outs of this complex federal program.

From determining eligibility to documenting and providing accurate medical records, the process can be daunting, particularly if you are experiencing a serious illness or disability. And if that’s not hard enough, consider all the special terms associated with Social Security’s disability insurance for U.S. workers.

Alphabet Soup Explained

Allsup explains some of the most important SSDI terms in its online dictionary.

With our help, you can have a better understanding of these terms and how they may affect your application and getting through the disability benefits approval process with the Social Security Administration.

Let’s start with a few important terms:

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL): This is a list of the basic activities that most people must engage in as a requirement of daily living, including bathing, preparing meals, shopping and participating in activities. It can help to determine how your condition has affected you on a daily basis.
  • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ): This individual hears an appeal at the hearing level, after a second denial, in order to determine if your SSDI claim qualifies for approval.
  • Compassionate Allowances (CAL): This term refers to a special Social Security program that lists serious medical conditions or diseases that qualify for fast-track SSDI approval. Each year, the list expands to help more people with disabilities.
  • Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR): Social Security conducts these periodic reviews to assess any improvements in your medical condition in order to determine if you are still eligible for SSDI benefits.
  • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): This is an annual adjustment in your SSDI benefit that generally takes effect every January. It is designed to protect your benefits from inflation. The 2023 COLA increase will be 8.7%, the highest in 40 years.
  • Disability Determination Services (DDS): State-run DDS handle the review of your claim at the state level, and DDS examiners look closely at your medical records, work history and general activities to determine if your condition meets Social Security’s Listing of Impairments and if you are eligible for SSDI benefits.

You can find out more about the SSDI process online at Applying For SSDI.

Looking for more definitions or a term that you find confusing? Click here for Helpful Terms.

Visit our eligibility page on, take our free online assessment, or call (800) 678-3276 to learn more about filing a claim for SSDI benefits.