Can I receive Social Security disablity payments if I have been convicted of a felony?

Learn when a disabled felon is eligible to receive Social Security income and whether a jailed felon’s family can get dependents benefits.

Social Security Disability Benefits While in Jail

Social Security Disability Benefits While in JailIf you are a convicted felon and you are disabled you may qualify for Social Security income; however, the Social Security Administration will not pay disability benefits for any month or part of a month during which you are confined to a jail, prison, or halfway house under the jurisdiction of a governmental corrections department or agency, if you are going to be in the corrections institution for more than thirty continuous days and you are convicted of a crime. Similarly, you will not receive payments while confined by court order and at public expense to an institution because you are found to be incompetent to stand trial or not guilty due to insanity or mental disease.

For example, if you were convicted of a crime and went to jail on January 10, 2014 for a sentence of more than thirty days, your benefits would be suspended and you would not be eligible for the January 2015 benefit, which is paid in February. Then if you were released to a halfway house run by a department of corrections, the suspension of benefits would continue. If you were released from the halfway house on parole on March 10, 2015, your benefits for April 2014 would be reinstated. Because benefits are paid in the month after they are due, you would receive your first reinstated benefit check in May 2015.

Reporting Requirements for your Social Security Disability Check

It is important to report promptly if it appears you will be in jail for more than thirty days because you will have to repay any overpayment that occurs because you are in a correctional facility.

Application for Disability Benefits While in Jail

If you are in prison and become disabled, you can apply for Social Security disability benefits while in jail, but benefits will not start to accrue until you had been disabled for five full calendar months or until the first full calendar month after you are released, whichever is later. For more information about when Social Security benefits begin and the benefit waiting period, see our article “If I Am Approved, How Much Social Security Disability Back Pay Will I Get?”

The Law Regarding Family Payment

Even when your Social Security Disability benefits are suspended because you are in jail, your family’s Social Security benefits will continue to be paid or, if you apply while incarcerated, their Social Security income will start after you’ve been disabled for five full calendar months.