Can a Person in Jail or Prison Collect Social Security?

Can a Person in Jail or Prison Collect Social Security?

Most of the time, social security disability insurance benefits are not awarded to individuals who are incarcerated as a result of a conviction for a felony (a crime punishable by over one year in prison). As social security lawyers in Tallahassee, we are often confronted with situations in which are clients have lost benefits due to incarceration and now must reapply or appeal their discontinuation of benefits to survive. However, it is possible to maintain your social security disability benefits while serving a sentence in jail. If a court permits you to take part in a rehabilitation program that allows you to return to substantial gainful activity (SGA) within a reasonable period upon completion of your sentence, then you may sustain your SSDI benefits, even after being convicted of a crime defined as a felony.

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It is important to consider that this exception only applies to claimants filing for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and childhood disability insurance benefits (CDB). This clause does not apply to disabled widows, widowers, or surviving divorced spouse’s benefits (DWB). In other cases, while prisoners are confined (jailed), their benefits may be awarded to their spouses or children if they are found eligible to receive them. These benefits are usually determined based upon the lost wages or self-employment income of the incarcerated individual.

Significantly, if your injuries occur as a result of activity relating to the felony for which you have been convicted and sentenced, roadblocks to receiving benefits after your release from prison may complicate the social security determination process. These complications are twofold:

  • Physical and mental injuries occurring as a result of felonious activity (for which you have been convicted in a court of law) cannot be considered when determining social security disability (SSDI) and social security income benefits.
  • Physical and mental injuries occurring throughout the duration of an individual’s sentence will not be considered for social security disability benefits until the individual’s sentence is commuted or served. No benefits can be disbursed until the individual has been released from their correctional facility

If you are in jail for longer than twelve (12) consecutive months, you will have to re-apply for social security income benefits. If you are incarcerated for a period shorter than twelve (12) months, your SSI benefits may be reinstated after your sentence is served and official release documents are received at your local social security office. Sentences of less than thirty (30) consecutive days result in no suspension of your benefits.

If you are arrested and receive social security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) in our area, have your criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee contact the social security field office (866) 248-2088 ahead of time to understand how your charges may affect your benefits.