What Happens to Your Social Security Disability Benefits After Coming Home from Prison?

This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website or email them at help@ssd-help.org.

What Happens to Your Social Security Disability Benefits After Being Released from Prison?

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and you must serve time in prison you may wonder if you will be able to continue getting benefits. Whether or not you can continue to get benefits depends largely on how long you must spend in prison. If you have to spend more than 30 consecutive days in prison your Social Security disability benefits will be stopped. However, if your spouse or your child is drawing from your Social Security benefits they can continue to do so as long as they are still eligible to receive benefits.

Can I Get My Benefits Back?

Even though you cannot receive your SSDI or SSI benefits while you are in prison you can get them back after you are released. When you are released from prison you qualify for rapid reinstatement of benefits which means that you won’t need to wait to get your benefits started again. As long as you still have a medical condition that qualifies you to receive Social Security disability you only have to wait one month to start receiving benefits again.

If you are receiving SSI benefits and you have served less than 12 consecutive months in prison you can start receiving benefits after just one month. However, if you served more than 12 consecutive months you will have to apply for SSI benefits again and wait to be approved before receiving benefits. In order to qualify for SSI benefits after being incarcerated, you will need to provide medical documentation of a condition that qualifies for benefits even if you qualified for benefits before you went to prison. 

How to Get Benefits Reinstated

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and lose them because you needed to serve time in prison you should start the process to get those benefits reinstated before you are released. You can submit your documentation to have your benefits reinstated up to 60 days before you are released so that your benefits will be reinstated quickly once you are released. If you are in prison for more than 12 consecutive months you may need to provide proof that your medical condition hasn’t changed and you still qualify for Social Security disability benefits. 

If you are working with an advocate or rehabilitation counselor that person can help you file, the documentation that you need to file to get your benefits restored quickly. If your spouse or child is drawing off your Social Security disability benefits or SSI benefits, they will not lose their benefits while you were incarcerated.  There are a couple of ways to re-start your application for Social Security disability benefits. You can apply online at the SSA’s website at any time or you can apply in person at your local SSA office. You aren’t able to apply online for SSI benefits; the online application is only for SSDI benefits. After you send in your application, you should hear back from the SSA regarding your claim within 3 to 5 months.


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