When do Social Security benefits stop after incarceration

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

  • Disability Claim

    surprising. In my opinion they should accumulate and you should receive them once you are out.

    • Brendajh

      I’m sorry, but i totally disagree ! They do not deserve to get their disability benefits after being convicted !

      • Coyotebethy

        I disagree with that. My husband is mentally disabled, not able to care for himself and is being convicted of a crime. Why shouldn’t I be able to draw his benefits like before he was convicted. I myself am his representative payee. How can you say that they don’t deserve benefits when you don’t even know the circumstances. They are human beings too.

        • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

          Social Security auxiliary benefits (for spouses and kids) continue during incarceration of the disabled individual: http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2009/04/do-spouses-and-childrens-benefits-continue-during-incarceration/

          However, the disabled person does not get benefits him/herself under the rationale that the state is already paying his/her expenses. 

          • frank

            The state is paying for EVERY prisoners expenses. Thousands of government employees still receive their pensions. They are convicting a retired individual twice by stealing his retirement. Last ly, how is it the government steals 2.7 trillion from ssi and now wants to cut cost to the program.

        • Guest

          Personal opinion: Why should you be able to draw someone else’s ssi if the other person is being taken care of by the state? If you are entitled to ssi you should make your own claim. If not, you would have to work like everyone else.

          • http://stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

            It may be splitting hairs, but there is no “drawing off of someone else’s SSI.” SSDI has auxiliary benefits spouse/kids can sometimes draw off of. SSI does not. 

            The rationale for allowing the auxiliary benefits to continue during the disabled person’s incarceration is that the disabled person paid into the system sufficiently to be eligible for SSDI benefits. They paid for the protection of their loss of earning in the event of disability; which included auxiliary benefits to the spouse and kids.

            While the disabled individual is not eligible to receive the benefits because the state is paying their expenses during the incarceration, the auxiliaries (the spouse and kids) still have the lost income due to the disability. 

            As a matter of policy, it was decided not to “punish” the spouse and children by removing the auxiliary benefits because of someone else’s crime. 

        • rg

          If he is disabled how was he able to commit a crime. As a representative for him shouldn’t you then be quirky also

  • Blubear48

    I agree with Disabilty Claim after all S.S. is a forced insurance and retirement plan for Workers and other plans don’t stop paying the bils. CDs don’t stop accuring interest. Stocks don’t get locked down. All prisoners get money sent to them in prison. No one in prison pays rent but Social Security recipients and our Social Security Attorneys have sold us out. SSDI AND OLD AGE is not welfare but a profitable business run by the Federal Govt. and the profits are spread world wide even to wash the genitals of prostitutes in Africa. Thank you TOMASZ STASIUK and all the rest. You Attorneys forget Government can’t attack a small group are any size group of indivuals it’s all or no one. That being said my question is what should happen when a representative payee gets incarcerated. My child had a Rep. Payee is there a procedure for that. Also my child was forced out on the streets and his Rep. stole his benifits. He filed fraud charges at S.S.Office but was not helped. The S.S. Office never contacted anyone on his Statement of complaint to verify his claim. Criminal, family and Justice of the Peace records verify his story. His doctor records verify the abuse and theft but The S.S.Office refused to help the child. When The Social Security Office or any part of Govt. says i can’t tell anyone even the person who files a complaint what happened in the investagation that’s when every attorney should file suits against The Govt. Instead even our attorneys who received their law degrees with taxpayer(welfare) help sells us out. I wonder how they spent so many years in law school and never heard of the improvements to the Magna Carta. FOOD STAMPS UNEMPLOYMENT AND SSI is PUBLIC ASSISITANCE WELFARE payed for by workers and THOSE BENIFITS should be stopped. SSDI and OLD AGE BENIFITS have been bought and payed for and becomes the property of the worker and the Govt. has no Authority to Seize without a court ordered warrant. The govt. is charging rent to this group of indivuals. Even our Family Law call SSDI and OLD AGE BENIFITS EARNED INCOME and the Govt. is not stealing Tom Delays income or anyone elses income who is incarcerated. SSI is Welfare every disabled and old person is eligable like any Welfare. Unemployment recepients must be available to work they can’t work unless the court’s let them so if the court says no then no unemployment and even people in homeless shelters don’t get foodstamps. The Govt. gave billions to Banks and the CEOs gave themselves a bonus of billions. Let the disabled and old people spend a few months in jail and keep their house. It costs a fortune to house them in nursing homes and hospitals when we steal $1000.00 from them and they get evicted from their apartment or home. Each year their are less workers because there are less incentives to work.

  • Brendajh

    If a person was in jail for 1.5 years, i understand his disability benefits stop. What happens when he gets out? I don’t believe he should EVER be entitled to these benefits again !

  • Leoamy63

    Can a wrongfully convicted person receive SSI back pay (they were on SSI when they were arrested) if they are exonerated and released from prison? Will they be able to start receiving SSI benefits again once they are out?

  • http://www.jobsforfelons.net Jobs for Felons

    Logically, the payments should not be paid if they are now being supported by the state, or by the federal prison system, while incarcerated. I’ve had many convicted felons inquire about their benefits after being incarcerated and often it is a challenge to get those benefits reinstated timely. I’m going to share this with my readers on Facebook as I’m sure many convicted felons, and their families, would like information on the timing of payment cessation. Thanks!

    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      That’s the rationale. There is a Social Security ruling that spells this out.

      And, yes, timely reinstatement after release can be a substantial hurdle making reintegration very difficult. It’s even worse when this hampers obtaining much needed medications post-release.

  • John

    I was incarcerated for “Conspiracy to Possess Less Than 65 Kilograms of Marijuana With the Intent to Sell By Using a Common Carrier” (the US Mail)….of course my SSI and Social Security Retirement Benefits ceased upon my conviction. I am about to be released having served my sentence. I understand that my Social Security Retirement Benefits and SSI will be reinstated upon my re-application for Benefits.
    My question is: there is a Federal Statute which clearly states that anyone sentenced under Federal Statute 5K1.1 who “provides substantial information about others in the conspiracy and agrees to testify agains others will NOT lose their Social Security Retirement Benefits”…..I was sentenced under 5K1.1 and still lost my benefits. Can I appeal that decision and get the retirment benefits back in one lump sum upon my release? I have looked and looked for the actual Statute, but the only place I ever saw it was in my Pre-Sentencing Investgation report and I can’t get a copy of that until I am released.
    Any input would be greatly appreciated.


    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      No idea. You may try posting the question on avvo.com or one of the other q&a services.

      Good luck!

  • Pingback: Can you receive Social Security while in jail / prison? | Colorado Social Security Law()

  • Jbwaller1947

    I think this sucks. You still have debts you are responsible for paying. What are you supposed to do?

    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      That’s a good point.

  • Acus14

    can one still get the back pay owned to them (ssi) if in jail.

    • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      I don’t see why not. SSA doesn’t pay benefits to the beneficiary during the incarceration because the state is paying their expenses.   However, if an individual is owed benefits for a time that he or she was not incarcerated, unless there is another problem, I don’t see why those benefits would not be released. 

      That’s just my gut feeling. Your local Social Security office can give you a definitive answer. 



  • tina

    how do u pay rent if they take social security away if in jail for two months and u don’t have any other income

  • jas

    Can i get my brother a lawyer with his ssi check

    • http://stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      Does your brother want you to get him a lawyer with his Social Security (SSI) check?

      • jas

        Ok im late but he has a lawyer now….now they cut his ssi check off….but he still has rent to pay…they say I can appeal it by writin a written appeal he goes to court soon n hes gettin out what do I do

  • justasking

    If I was on said was arrested in July sat in jail but was not sentenced until October, should I have gotten my benefits. Also let me include this. The state doesn’t cover your living in this county jail. We pay 50 a day to (live ) there plus all of our own medical.

  • king

    if I go to jail before I get my final lump sum disability back pay payment will I still receive it?

  • William A Staton

    I was arrested for a felony but got out the same night and haven’t went to court yet will they stop my check even though I have been,found guilty year

  • Christine Andrea Parks

    My hubby got arrested on a warrent been in jail for only two days and he is supose to get paid this friday will we will still receive it

  • Tee

    I am my son payee and I got to do 8mo, do I change his payee

  • 000

    my father is in for one year of intermittent sentence (“weekends”) for white collar felony
    when he is out, he is at home free to work travel etc
    can they stop his ss and medicare?

  • Lisa Ferro

    can you receive your ssid and ssi checks if your in jail, awaiting trial and haven’t been convicted yet.