September 27, 2016

May an Incarcerated Felon Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

I recently received an email question from a blog reader about the eligibility of a convicted felon for Social Security disability benefits.  There is a simple answer here – you may not collect disability benefits during the time you are incarcerated.  Social Security ruling 83-28 addresses this situation directly.

Assuming that Social Security will accept an application for disability benefits from a claimant who is incarcerated, I do not believe that the adjudication process actually stops during the incarceration.  I have actually attended hearings held in prison.  The problem – incarcerated claimants often do not get treatment from physicians who are very interested in filling out forms or helping the prisonor/claimant.  Further, judges tend to be somewhat skeptical about the credibility of an imprisoned claimant.  Bottom line – it is an uphill battle for many reasons.

The following two tabs change content below.

Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 29 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.


  1. Eric Cummings says:

    I would like to know if a convicted felon,that’s not incarcerated,can receive title 16 SSI disability?

  2. Eric – To my knowledge, a felony conviction does not bar someone from applying for and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  3. David Sanders says:

    My Brother has seizures on average four to five times a week and somethines as often as four times a day with meds. My question is he will be released from jail in about nine months can he qualify for aid from the goverment such as disability and help with meds?

  4. Geoff Wentworth says:

    With the job market in my state being very low, does being a felon qualify for SSI? Is it considered a disability that a single father with custody of his son is barred from even being a licensed barber. The government has disable me from the work force. I have paid my debt and still can’t take my son hunting, be licensed for any job that requires a license. With unemployment at a national high in michigan, the low paying jobs that I can work are being filled by people without felonies. Does anyone know if I would qualify for SSI?

  5. Donnie Reeves says:

    I noted the reply you gave with regards to SSI …what about a SSDI recipient? If NOT incarcerated can a fraud felon receive benefits? I know someone convicted of SSA fraud and has had their benefits cut off…and I assume , if they are legally entitled, they will have to go to Federal Court for a written order?

  6. My ex-husband is disabled and is currently receiving disability benefits. He was arrested last week and is facing multiple felony charges. He is looking at a minimum of five years in jail. We have two children together. We all draw off of his disbility benefits. He is also obligated to pay $275 a month out of his own disability check. I would like to know if the children and I will continue to receive benefits? We live in Virginia if that helps.
    Thank you

  7. Lola Morales says:

    I would like to know if a convicted fraud felon, who owes his victims more the 1/2 million dollars, and is now released from prison and is no longer on probation, can receive social security pension, or if social security will take an amount monthly to pay for his victims? I need an accurate answer and please tell me where can I look up this information or who can I contact. Thanks so much.

  8. what if a person was collecting ssi and then was incarserated after he is released says:

    what if a person was collecting ssi and then was incarserated after he is released does he have to apply all over again?he recieved ss1 for about 7 or 8 years then was incarcirated for ten years and released does he have yo go apply all over again or can they still use his prior mhr disability?

  9. Latasha says:

    I want to know if a person was incarcerated for more than 10 years are they entitled to some type of benefits once they are released. They have never received SSI or anything like that but do they get any type of help after being incarcerated for so long.

  10. margo rodriges says:

    hello my husband is awaiting an appeals council hearing due to he was denied by a alj last week .he is looking at 6 months state will the council meet before that or does it take longer and does he have to reaply and start all over,his is ssdi and ssi the lawyer he as is oohh anyway please help thanks please let me know

  11. adrian hamblin says:

    Hi there,
    Can my 10 year old daughter or myself collect her dad and my husband social security benefits while he is incarcerated. I can not collect child support he has been in prison for 5 years and still has about 5 more years . he has also worked pretty much the whole time we had been together. please contact me

  12. Incarceration is not a disability. A released prisoner could apply for SSI if he/she has a documented medical problem that prevents that person from working. My experience has been that medical records from prison clinics are usually not particularly helpful in proving disability so I would say that a released prisoner with no other medical history would have an uphill battle even with a significant medical problem.

  13. Social Security retirement benefits are payable to anyone who has worked and paid into the system. You may want to contact SSA directly at 800-772-1213 and/or the office of one of your United States senators to get advice about any recourse you may have in terms of restitution owed.

  14. I was able to find a Social Security ruling – SSR 83-28 which says that when a claimant is incarcerated, “derivative benefits for family members are not terminated.” This suggests to me that anyone characterized as an auxilary would continue to receive benefits. I also note that the applicable statute 42 U.S.C. Section 402(x)(2) reads as follows: “Benefits which would be payable to any individual (other than a confined individual to whom benefits are not payable by reason of paragraph (1)) under this title on the basis of the wages and self-employment income of such a confined individual but for the provisions of paragraph (1), shall be payable as though such confined individual were receiving such benefits under this section or section 223.”
    Therefore it appears to me that an individual receiving auxilary benefits would continue to receive those benefits even while the claimant is incarcerated and not eligible to receive benefits.

  15. I believe that you can per 42 U.S.C. 402(x)(2), which reads in part: benefits which would be payable to any individual (other than a confined individual to whom benefits are not payable by reason of paragraph (1)) under this title on the basis of the wages and self-employment income of such a confined individual but for the provisions of paragraph (1), shall be payable as though such confined individual were receiving such benefits under this section or section 223.

  16. My husband is being released after serving ten years. His case worker has submitted papers for SSI and he qualifies. He had enough quarters to qualify for SSD up until five years into his ten year sentence. My question is if you are incarcerated for more than five years do you lose your right to file for SSD benifits even if you worked twenty plus years prior to your sentence. He was disabled prior to the five year mark.

  17. I live in Florida and have been incarcerated in the Florida D.O.C. a few times and i was just told by a neighbor who is an ex employee of Social Security that i am able to recieve a monthly check. I was wondering if anyone else knows this answer. Thanks!!

  18. Tammy Monaco says:

    My brother was recently jailed for six months on an outstanding warrant. There has been no conviction of a felony charge. Charge reduced to misdemdeanor – no sentencing yet. While he was incarcerated we just found that the girlfriend he was living with has been withdrawling the SS money from his account. He was only on the account incase he was unable to get to his account due to illness. It was a savings account setup and she never deposit or withdrew prior to his incarceration. My brother is disabiled. My first questions is would his SS benefits stop because he was in jail? My second question is should we contact SS advising them the girlfried withdrew money intented for him without his knowledge? She took over $4900.

  19. Robert Roberson says:

    I am a 31 year old multiple convicted felon who has injuries & other complications that Are keeping me incarcerated from being able to do anything…

    Here is my Background:
    Convicted of a felony at the age of 15/ for something that i did not commit — I had the actual victims come in on the stand & Stand up for my own defense,,,, & I was still convicted !!!!!

    That one failure of the justice system – Has ruined my life…… I was certified as an adult & did 1 year in the DOC

    After my sentance ,, I was on probation for 5 years… I asked my Probation officer if i could go deer hunting & he said it was fine…. When i returned home & I told him that i went / A squad picked me up & I recieved another felony for Possession of firearms & Distributing firearms to a minor (My younger brother) of whom I was teaching how to go out & get food if he ever needed it …. I was only 16

    I have been Out since 1997 & Have NEVER WENT BACK !!!!!

    I have been fortunate enough to be with a girlfriend who can barely support herself & we have been – Tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I was lucky to get some money from a property loss from the railroad & I paid off all the car loans/All the credit cards with that money…..

    I am not uneducated / Although I have not had any Schooling since 15 years old (Jail Schooling is like attending 3rd grade – Over & Over & Over again)

    I landed 1 roofing job in 2004 that paid cash & due to the owners fault – I slid off the roof backwards , Injured my Ankle . Knee & Back … I never returned there / Was let go by them as well

    I cannot get a Job at McDonalds for crying out loud, I cannot find an apartment without a background check….

    I dont take orders well from people who think they are High & Mighty , I cant stand being around alot of people ,I always feel people are out to get me / talking behind my back & trying to belittle me , I dont hold myself back to anyone & I am a bit Bold so to speak……

    I have been to a evaluation center as a teen & was diagnosed adhd or some other form of whatever but,, I refused to believe that garbage….

    What can i do ??? I have been stuck in this hole for half my life & no matter how hard I try – I see no way out … I need to support myself somehow – No one hires people like myself

    What do i do ??? Am i able to receive something that will keep my head above water ???

  20. Robert Roberson says:

    I completed my sentences / Complete 7 years of probation with satisfactory results & I have not been back to Jail for ANYTHING since then……

    We used to own a duplex & Lost it because the interest rate went way up , The renters never paid rent & Damaged the unit… We couldn’t afford it any longer…….

    I dont know what else to do to help get by

  21. I receive SSI benefits and I have a fiance who is disabled also and incarcerated in a federal prison. He suffers from Schizophrenia and severe depression and is currently taking 4 different antipsychotic medications in prison. We are planning on getting married while he’s in prison. Is he entitled to SSI benefits while he’s locked up? Or can I apply for him once we are married so I can receive a larger benefit for disabled couples. I receive $674 monthly but I know the couple benefit is $1011 monthly.

  22. sherry harris says:

    My son is in jail. I need to no if he is convicted of a felony of ecape and has to go to prison would he lose is benfits for live he has bi=polor and gets benfits for this..

  23. If you are a convicted felon in the state of Idaho can you move into a certified family home with reshab clients?

  24. Diane Mercer says:

    My son has been incarcerated for 7 years and on Death Row for 3 ½ of those 7 years. He was receiving SSI (deemed mildly mentally retarded) prior to sentencing. He has 3 children and his ex-wife (at the time of incarceration “wife”) was told that she and their 3 children could not receive his benefits. Also he has chronic asthma and other problem and his bill since he has been incarcerated is now nearly $600. Is this true about my grandchildren receiving the money and also what can be done about his medical bill that I can’t afford to pay?

  25. Edward Pinkerton says:

    I wish I could help answer some of these, they are heartbreaking. But I have my own question. My brother has been on disability for schizophrenia, and living at a care facility. He wants to leave there and live with me. If he does, will he lose his government support? His meds are very expensive. And I worry about his cost of living and rent etc. I have done it before. It is very hard at times.
    Also, he was on Dextroamphetamine as a child for ADHD/ADD. Ive read that this can exacerbate a condition like schizophrenia. They have known since he was 8 that he was developing schizoprenia. Was this a doctors error? Should I investigate this further? Its been horrible to watch him fall apart. If this could have been prevented or delayed, should I sue?
    Among other things, this condition has seen him in jail once for an assault that was very minor and happened during one of his episodes. No adjustments were made for his punishment. He should never have been put in a general population jail for something he was not capable of preventing. He is a soft hearted, gentle guy, who hears voices, talks to himself on occasion etc. and is afraid of almost every situation. So he was attacked and beaten in jail. I cant imagine how that must have been for him. Nobody would listen to my pleas. Nothing was done about that.
    With the progression of his illness, he has become mentally delayed, gained A LOT of weight, and I worry that now he might be getting Tardive (sp).

  26. Di Stone says:

    My husband is receiving SSDI. He now has a felony charge, no incarceration, only probation. I see where if in prisoned that No one would not. However, It does not state anything regarding felony and only probation.
    Thank you for your help

  27. my brother is in jail(NOW approx 2-3mo)for a bench warrant regarding a felony & 2other charges. Judge told he &his private atty he must take his meds for a while b 4 seeing him in court to plea.All of charges are due 2 bi-poler & schizophrenia. diagon with mental ill-27 yrs ago He takes meds rarely. He gets physcial w/relatives(arrested several times goes from jail to a state med hosp 4 10 days made to take meds & is released. goes to parents home-where he 4 41yrs. he gets a disability check. He is killing the parents,mid 70s w/worry & repairing doors & replacing all broken items. will he continue disability $ medicare-which mom handles this rate-it want b long b4 heartattacks & strocks start.PLEASE HELP ME-help all of them..PLS REPLY ASAP……..3/30/2010……THANK YOU….

  28. jason bialy says:

    @what if a person was collecting ssi and then was incarserated after he is released: You only need to report to local office sign up and wait a month or two the checks will start coming again. No more paper work or interviews just need release letter from prison stating you are currently out of prison

  29. linda brenner says:

    What if the person in county jail is NOT there due to a Felony & will only be serving 3 months? Are SSD checks canceled?

  30. Chrisee parent says:

    I would like to find out if my husband is recieving benifits as a married status I know he is recieving it on my minor child. how can i find out if he is recieving benifits with regard to my social number WE ARE SEPERATED

  31. Chrisee, I think that you have the right to review information relating to your Social Security number and file, but privacy laws would prevent you from seeing anything in your estranged husband’s file. You could get this information through the discovery process in state court.

  32. Hello, I am a mother of two children. My husband was incarcerated for probation violation. I have asked for help for his prescription drug problem for years, but instead of help they just want to keep arresting him. He has been disabled for years now because he had neck, back, shoulder, hand and eye surgery. Hence the drug problem. I worked until last year when I left my job to go to another job, unfortunately that fell through, so we have been living off of his SSDI and food stamps. I have been staying home and homeschooling my two children.(The school system had my son on so much medication, so he could focus on classwork, because he was diagnosed with ADHD. So I homeschool him and took him off all the medication.) Since my husband is now incarcerated for who knows how long. Will we lose the disability and stamps? I can’t pay our bills without them. Yeah my husband is not at home but not only am I struggling to pay bills, but I have to put money in an inmate account for him to be able to buy things, provide him with socks, shirts, etc. and pay a five dollar collect call everytime he calls me. Shouldn’t he be allowed his check if we are still having to provide for him in jail, and our bills on the outside? Thank you.

  33. my sons father is a conviced felon he was in jail from 2006-12/18/2009. can my sons father get ssi or ssd?

  34. my sons father is a conviced felon. he was in jail from 2006- 12/18/2009. can my sons father get ssi or ssd?

  35. Samantha Langley says:

    My question is, my husband id disabled and gets 1134.00 mo. I have non-hodgkins lymphoma and live with him. I was awarded only 274.00 mo. is there any way I can get my money up any and still live with husband? I cant qualify they tell me for any services cause “he gets too much money” please help. thanks& God Bless You for what you do! Samantha

  36. My husband is currently on ssdi, we have grown children, i work and he is in jail awaiting prelim and possible trial for felony. will he lose disability? when?

  37. edgar goodwin says:

    i am a felon and fiding it difficult to get employment anywhere due to criminal background.

  38. My son 21 has been in a county jail of 1yr.and 3mos. he is going to get out on probation. Is there any help out there for him in order to help pay child support since no one wants to hire a felon. He’s not a criminal. He just got in with the wrong crowd after his dads suicide. What are people suppose to make a living while being branded the rest of your life.

  39. Hi there…My 72 yr old father has been charged with a felony and is sitting in jail waiting on the trial since we can not afford his bond. Social security has informed my mom that his benefits are no longer eligible. I thought that you had to be convicted for the benefit to stop? He has been in jail now for 2.5 months waiting…He would be free if we could bond him out. Isn’t it innocent until proven guilty? My dad was the sole provider also and losing his benefit would not allow my mom to continue to support herself paying the bills? Is there a way to continue his benefit at all on her behalf for hardship? Thanks for your help in advance!

  40. My husband & father of my 3 children is in jail. Can i receive his ssi benefits?

  41. Brittany says:

    Ssi benefits stop when a claimant goes to jail for one consecutive month, meaning the full month. Nobody is eligible to receive benefits off a person who is getting ssi, so when that person is in jail nobody is getting anything as long as that person will be in jail for one full calendar month. Social security disability is something totally different than SSI, you have to be confined and convicted for your benefits to cease.

  42. I would suggest looking into getting your CDL and becoming a truck driver. If you felony is 10 years old then you can get your CDL. There are other jobs out there that will also hire you but you have to put some time into getting an education. A career in water and wastewater is something also to consider. Felons are eligible to receive financial aid – so go back to school. The money from that will help you well you prepare for your new career. Learn as much as you can about a career that you would like to get into. Get the education and do your best. If you don’t have a good background then you better be good at what you do. It’s about proving yourself. Move to a state that doesn’t focus on felony convictions for a lifetime like Texas. Unlike, Arizona that holds it over your head and makes you report it on applications until the grave.

    Hope this helps!

  43. Debra Barrons says:

    i am a convicted felon & have been off parole for 18 yrs. i was married for 16 yrs (divorced in 1991) & was wondering when i turn 62 will i be able to collect social security from/because of my ex-husband & being married over 10 years?

  44. Anywife Anywhere says:

    I need to find out the real reason my husband is getting SSI. He hears voices that tell him to hurt me, so I can’t be around him. Now, when he hears the voices, he simply closes the doors for hours or days until they subside. He is so earnest and convincing that he just about had me barred and/or arrested. Little did I know that instead of being jealous or mean, he feels WRONGED by me and is master of telling the same story with different emphasis and making it appear two different ways. So, I know I am lucky to have gotten out safe and alive, but barely. He refuses to take medication, so these energies, voices are more dear to him than I am. I need to know the truth as he was diagnosed before we met and his family will not speak to me at his request since he has told them I am a gold digging liar and a cheat. And just like that they wished me well and said to lose their numbers.

  45. Anywife, you are not going to get any answers from Social Security as information about your husband’s case is protected by privacy laws. If you file for divorce or for separate maintenance you may be able to gain access to his medical records through discovery.

  46. Friend of a felon says:

    I have a friend who was convicted over 20 yrs ago. He served his 2 yr sentence and is not on parole. He has not been able to secure gainful employment because of his record. Is it possible that him having this record has disabled him from employment. And if this is the case, can he file for disability ?

  47. Is it possible to get a bond hearing scheduled NOW on an open warrant for someone who is currently incarcerated?

  48. I receive social security off of my husband. However, we’re currently separated due to an assalt on my son. If my husband gets convicted will we lose our benefits as well?


  1. […] Via May an Incarcerated Felon Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?. […]

Speak Your Mind