Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

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Go to jail and lose your Social Security benefits

It often takes many months to a few or more years for a Virginia resident to win a Social Security disability claim. After putting in the time and effort to prove a beneficiary meets the eligibility requirements for SSD or Supplemental Security Income, the last thing a beneficiary will want is to lose access to those benefits.

However, a beneficiary can lose those hard won SSD or SSI benefits if the recipient spends time incarcerated. The suspension of benefits will be as temporary or long term as the time spent in jail. Moreover, the unpaid benefits are not transferable to friend or family.

Social Security disability beneficiaries

SS law indicates that once a Social Security disability beneficiary goes into a penal institution for at least 30 continuous days, the Social Security Administration will suspend the benefits. The missing payments do not release to the beneficiary when he or she is freed. The beneficiary loses them forever, barring an overturning of the conviction. This may prove to be a terrible hardship to the household of the beneficiary, due to the loss of income.

Fortunately, the suspension of a worker’s own benefits will not affect the dependents’ benefits, if they have any. Once the beneficiary gains freedom, he or she can apply to get his or her benefits reinstated.

SSI beneficiaries

The same restriction on benefits applies to Title 16 Supplemental Security Income. In addition, if the SSI recipient stays in jail for more than 12 months he cannot seek a reinstatement of benefits. He must reapply anew for his SSI. This means having to prove he meets the medical criteria for disability with current strong medical evidence, all over again.

However, the prisoner may apply for SSI months before his release so that if successful, upon gaining his freedom his benefits may start the next month. Some penal institutions have a prelease procedure agreement with the Social Security Administration that makes this procedure easier. But for those that do not, the jailed beneficiary may apply nonetheless.

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.
3900 University Drive, Suite 320
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-539-5825
Fax: 703-352-3370
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