How does being incarcerated – Jail, Prison affect Social Security or SSI Benefits?

How do you get benefits reinstated?

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If you’re receiving SSI, your payments are suspended while you’re in prison.  Your payments can be reinstated in the month you’re released.   However, if your confinement lasts for 12 consecutive months or longer, your eligibility for SSI benefits will terminate and you must file a new application for benefits.

If Social Security suspends your disability or SSI benefits because you were in prison, you can request for Social Security to reinstate your benefits. You’ll need to contact Social Security and provide a copy of your official release documents  before they can act on your request.

For SSI beneficiaries, benefits are terminated when the person is incarcerated for a year or more.

See our separate website on Criminal Law

Entering the Community after Incarceration # 10504

Entering Community after incarceration

What prisoners need to know # 10133

Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability

Nolo's Guide to Social Security Disability  

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Social Security Disability Benefits # 10029
Social Security Disability Benefits # 10029


More than you ever wanted to know on SSI

Understanding  SSI  # 17-008 120 pages 

understanding ssi # 17-008

Benefits for Children with Disabilities  # 10026  

Benefits for children with disabilities # 10026

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3 comments on “Incarceration – Jail – Prison

    • Which prison?

      Is he on SSI or SSDI?

      Were benefits suspended or terminated?

      Was he getting benefits before?

      Does the prison have a pre-release agreement with Social Security?

      Please read this pamphlet from Social Security

      A prerelease agreement is a written or verbal agreement between an institution and SSA to cooperate in the processing of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applications under the prerelease procedure. For a complete description of prerelease agreements see SI 00520.910 – Prerelease Agreements – Institutionalization.

      After you know your release date, notify someone at your facility that you want to start your SSI payments or Social Security benefits. The institution then will notify us if you are likely to meet the requirements for benefits. We will get an application from you several months before your anticipated release. That way, we can begin processing your application. Your benefits can start as soon as possible after your release.
      If your institution does not have a prerelease agreement with the local Social Security office:
      After you know your anticipated release date, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Tell the representative you are scheduled to be released from an institution and want to apply for benefits. Please have your Social Security number handy. We will set up an appointment with your local Social Security office to take your application when you are released.

      Helping Inmates Obtain Federal Disability Benefits: Serious Medical and Mental Illness, Incarceration, and Federal Disability Entitlement Programs

      Social Security and Health Care Benefits for the  Incarcerated 

      This fact sheet describes (i) income support through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI)  and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs, and (ii) health coverage under  Medicaid and Medicare, which together can enable someone with mental illness to transition  successfully from jail or prison to community life.

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