In some instances, having a criminal history could impact a claimant’s or recipient’s eligibility to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The SSA may need more information about the applicant’s current situation to make a determination. If the claim is denied, the individual could discuss his or her options with a disability lawyer to determine if filing an appeal will help.

Most Prior Felony Convictions Do Not Impact SSDI

Having a felony conviction typically will not interfere with a claimant’s ability to receive SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. However, if the person is convicted of certain crimes like treason, sabotage, or subversive activities, eligibility could be limited. In that case, the court could order that any wages received during the quarter when the claimant was convicted be excluded when determining the amount of the disability benefit.

SSDI Benefits May Be Suspended for Certain Reasons

There are a few reasons why SSDI may be suspended for those convicted of a crime. These benefits intend to provide for the claimant’s housing and food, which is provided for during incarceration. Therefore, for incarcerations of 30 days or more, claimants will not receive benefits for any months spent in prison. The benefits will be suspended after the claimant has spent 30 days in prison. They will be reinstated during the month after the claimant is released. However, if the benefits were suspended for 12 months or more, the claim will need to be refiled.

A claimant is not eligible to receive benefits if he or she:

  • Evaded arrest for committing a crime
  • Escaped from law enforcement custody
  • Avoided prosecution
  • Has an outstanding warrant for flight

Claimants are still eligible to receive SSDI disability benefits while on parole or probation. However, if the terms are violated, the claimant immediately becomes ineligible to collect benefits while in violation.

No SSDI for Disabilities Sustained While Committing a Crime

When a disabling injury or aggravation of a pre-existing condition occurs during the commission of a crime, the claimant cannot apply for SSDI or SSI for it. However, a person may be able to apply based on other conditions.

It is possible that an individual could develop a disability while in prison or have an existing condition worsen. That person may apply for SSDI or SSI. However, the applicant will not start receiving benefits until release. Upon release, the claimant must submit a new disability application.