As a general rule, you are not entitled to Social Security disability benefits if you are incarcerated in jail or prison. However, Social Security benefits do not end immediately with incarceration:
If you are on SSI (Title 16 – Supplemental Security Income benefits), your Social Security disability benefits do not stop until you are incarcerated for 30 days:
If you get a monthly SSI check and you are in jail, your SSI check will stop after you are in jail for a full calendar month.
For example, if you were in jail on 3/21/01 and you will stay there to serve a three-month sentence, SSA will stop your SSI check beginning with April 2001.
If you are receiving SSDI (Title 2 – Social Security Disability Insurance benefits) Social Security will stop benefits after you are incarcerated for 30 days after your conviction:
If you get Title II benefits and you are in jail and were convicted of a crime, your monthly benefits will stop after you remain in jail more than 30 continuous days following your conviction. Your checks will stop with the month you entered jail and were convicted.
For example, if you were sent to jail on 3/21/01, convicted of a crime on 3/29/01, and the court ordered you to serve a 6-months sentence, your benefits would stop beginning with your March 2001 Title II check, the check you receive in April 2001.
Click for more information from Social Security on when benefits stop after incarceration.
Did you notice the difference there. It looks like SSI benefits are stopped 30 days after incarceration starts. However, SSDI benefits stop 30 days after conviction – which could be quite some time after incarceration if you are arrested and cannot make bond. Note: I am not 100% sure that this interpretation is correct. If you have information on this, tell me in the comments.
Also, you can lose 3 months of benefits if you sentenced to just over 30 days:
The law states that you cannot get payments for any month, any part of which you spend in jail, following your conviction and confinement of more than 30 continuous days.
For example, if the court convicts you on March 29th for 30 days you would go to jail that same day and remain in jail until May 2nd, you would not get benefits for March, April, or May.
In other words, a sentence of just over 30 days beginning at the end of one month and ending at the very beginning of the third month would mean you lose benefits for all three months! Check out this Social Security Answer for more information.
Photo by Nathan O’Nions