Getting SSI or SSDI Benefits While You Are in Jail

Getting SSI or SSDI Benefits While You Are in Jail

It is no secret that securing Social Security benefits as a disabled individual is a fairly difficult process. It takes lots of time and effort to obtain benefits, but there are times when applying for them becomes even more difficult, such as with people who are imprisoned. Here are a few things you should be aware of regarding your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you are in prison or expecting a prison sentence.

What is SSI and SSDI?

Before discussing the intricacies of how SSI or SSDI benefits are affected when you are serving time, it is crucial that you first understand what they are. While people often confuse them, the main difference between SSI and SSDI centers around work experience. 

Disabled individuals are more likely to secure SSDI if they have worked for an extended period. In contrast, SSI is available to certain disabled or blind individuals, regardless of work experience. SSI is instead calculated based on an individual’s income and assets.

SSI and SSDI Benefits in Prison

The good news is, a felony conviction does not automatically disqualify you from receiving Social Security benefits in the future. However, if you were receiving SSDI benefits prior to your time in prison, those benefits will be stopped once you have been in prison for more than 30 days. Once you are released, SSA may be able to reinstate your benefits starting with the month you were released. To restart your payments, you should visit or contact your local SSA office. 

 If you were receiving SSI benefits prior to incarceration, your SSI benefits will stop after you are imprisoned for a month.  However, benefits after incarceration differ when it comes to SSI. If your benefits were suspended for less than a year, your SSI benefits can be reinstated after your release and you do not need to file a new claim. It is important to note though that, should your incarceration extend to 12 or more consecutive months, your SSI benefits will be terminated, meaning you will have to submit a new application for benefits after your release.

Applying for SSI and SSDI Benefits After Serving Time

While you can still apply for SSDI after being released from prison, there are a few factors that may disqualify you. You will not be eligible for SSDI if:

  • Your disability happened or was made worse while you were committing a felony.
  • Your disability happened or was made worse while you were in jail for a felony conviction.
  • You killed your spouse or parent (as it applies to Social Security survivors’ benefits).

In addition, if you were convicted of crimes such as sabotage, certain acts of terrorism, or treason, your eligibility to secure SSDI benefits could also be affected.

Get Your SSDI or SSI Benefits Reinstated After Leaving Prison

If you are spending a significant amount of time behind bars, your disability benefit payments will be affected. In that case, you might need to reapply for SSDI or SSI benefits after you complete your prison sentence. To apply for reinstatement of benefits suspended during your prison sentence, you must submit a copy of your release documents and medical documentation to the SSA. 

It will be in your best interest to enlist the assistance of a qualified Social Security Benefits attorney who will know how to navigate this difficult task. For a free consultation, contact Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law today. We can provide legal advice for SSDI applicants anywhere in the country.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law