Can My Criminal Case Affect My Disability Claim?

We’ve all made mistakes, but when your mistake has landed you in some legal trouble, it’s hard to brush it to the side. Being convicted of a crime can make it harder to land a job, it makes people trust you less, and it’s always a stone on your back. If you’re trying to get disability benefits, you may wonder if your criminal history can affect your eligibility. There is no simple answer; it depends on a few circumstances.

Getting Disability Benefits as a Felon

For the most part, if you’ve had a past felony, it shouldn’t get in the way too much of you getting disability benefits. However, there are some circumstances where it can affect your eligibility. Examples include:

  • If your disability occurred while you were committing your crime, or became worse.
  • Your disability arose while you were imprisoned.
  • You cannot get survivor’s benefits if you killed your parent or spouse.

So should you still apply if the above happened? Yes. You probably won’t get benefits, but your retirement may get a freeze. This means that you have a less likely chance of your retirement decreasing. With many of these circumstances, it’s always worth a shot.

What About Imprisonment?

If you have disability benefits, and you are currently incarcerated, you may wonder if that will affect your benefits. You won’t receive benefits while you’re imprisoned. Since all your basic needs are available in a prison, the government has determined you won’t have a use for the benefits. When you are released, your benefits should be reinstated after 30 days. Contact the Social Security office as soon as you are released.

Some jails or prisons have a way to apply for benefits while you’re imprisoned, but that will depend on where you’re sent.

If you try to escape from prison, you are not entitled to benefits. This includes fleeing before you’re imprisoned.

For those on parole, you may lose your benefits for a month if you’ve been violating your parole.

Like anything, this will depend on where you are and what crime you’ve committed. It’s best that you talk to your Social Security officer and see if you still qualify, or if you can get your benefits reinstated. While it’s reasonable that you should lose your benefits while imprisoned, some can’t survive unless they get them reinstated. So be aware of the rules and talk with a professional.