Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

Photo of David Dopkin
Photo of David Dopkin

What happens to your SSDI benefits while you’re incarcerated?

| Dec 20, 2020 | Adjustment of Status

You receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits each month because you have a medical condition that prevents you from being able to earn enough money to support yourself. Now, you’re facing time in prison. Will you continue to receive those benefits? After all, you still have expenses. If you own a home, there are still mortgage payments, utilities and other bills that continue even if you’re away for a time.

Unfortunately, SSDI benefits are suspended for anyone who is sentenced to serve over 30 continuous days in prison, jail or any other sort of institution for committing a crime. They are suspended the month you are incarcerated.

Don’t assume that if you don’t tell the Social Security Administration (SSA) you’re going to prison that it won’t find out. It will.

Once you are no longer incarcerated, your SSDI benefits can be reinstated the month after you’re released. You don’t have to reapply and requalify for benefits. However, you will need to notify SSA of your release and provide proof of it.

What happens if you develop a disabling condition while you’re incarcerated?

What if your health changes significantly while you’re in prison? Maybe you are diagnosed with a condition like multiple sclerosis that gets significantly worse during your time behind bars. Perhaps you get badly injured and are partially paralyzed. Maybe you’ve developed or been diagnosed with a mental health condition. Those are just a few examples.

If you believe that you need and qualify for SSDI benefits when you’re released from prison, your facility may be able to help you get the application process started while you’re locked up if they have a prerelease agreement with the local Social Security office. If there’s no prerelease agreement, you’ll need to contact the SSA directly.

If your family members need financial support while you’re incarcerated, the SSA also has a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) option for senior and disabled people with low incomes. They may qualify for other state and federal benefits as well. It’s a good idea to explore all of your options and seek legal help if you or they have difficulty getting the benefits you need.