Social Security Disability payments and incarceration: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Dec 24, 2020 | Disability

If you receive Social Security Disability payments, you may wonder what happens to those benefits if you have to serve time in jail or prison. The main takeaway is that anyone serving over a month in a penal institution must forfeit their benefits during their incarceration.

Those serving 12 consecutive months or more must file new applications and await approval by Social Security Administration (SSA) before they can once again collect benefits.

Do I have to tell the SSA I went to jail?

No, not unless you serve more than 30 consecutive days. For instance, if you get arrested on DWI charges and stay in jail for a few days awaiting someone to arrange your bond, there is no need to notify the SSA of the situation. Only if your pretrial confinement exceeds 30 days will you be required to notify the SSA of your situation.

Is there a chance SSA won’t find out I’m in jail?

That bit of magical thinking can wind up getting you in more trouble than you already are facing. In today’s digital universe, all government programs share data based usually on an individual’s Social Security number. Even if it is not immediately discovered, you could later wind up on the hook for repaying benefits you were not eligible to receive.

What about my spouse and children?

As long as a dependent spouse and children were already receiving dependent benefits through your Social Security Disability record prior to your incarceration, those benefits to the dependent spouse and children will continue during your incarceration.

Questions? Your disability attorney is a good source of information

If you are having difficulty regaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits after they were paused due to incarceration, it may be time to get some help. An attorney can look at your situation and guide you through the next steps.