SSDI and Criminal Convictions

Massachusetts Attorneys Guiding Individuals through Social Security Claims

If you have recently received a conviction for a criminal offense and are a government benefits recipient, or if you would like to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you may have questions about how your conviction affects your eligibility. While a criminal conviction will not automatically prevent you from obtaining SSDI, it can have ramifications for your application or how benefits are received. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our Social Security lawyers can help individuals in Massachusetts evaluate how a conviction might affect their status as SSDI recipients.

Criminal Convictions and SSDI Eligibility

As a general rule, a criminal conviction does not have an effect on an application for SSDI. Individuals with prior convictions can qualify for benefits if they otherwise meet the work and health requirements, and individuals who receive a conviction after they have obtained benefits will not have their benefits terminated.

However, in certain limited situations, a criminal conviction can result in your application for SSDI benefits being denied. This can happen if your disability occurred, or worsened, while you were committing a criminal act, or your disability occurred, or worsened, while you were serving a sentence for your criminal conviction. Individuals also cannot obtain survivor benefits for the death of a spouse or parent if they were criminally involved in the death. In some very unusual circumstances, applicants may have their benefits denied, or reduced, as a result of criminal activity taken against the government, such as treason or sabotage.

Payment of Benefits Before and After a Conviction

While individuals charged and convicted of a criminal act are not disqualified from receiving SSDI benefits, they can have their benefits withheld during certain periods before and after a conviction. If you are suspected of a crime and arrested, you are entitled to receive your benefits during the period before conviction. However, if you have an outstanding warrant in your name and fail to appear, your SSDI benefits can be suspended at that point.

After a trial and conviction, your disability benefits will be suspended while you serve any term of imprisonment. This is because your basic needs are provided for you while in prison, and the government has determined that prisoners are not entitled to receive cash assistance. This rule applies in any situation in which a person is confined, including time spent in a jail or an alternative type of correctional facility.

After you have finished your term of incarceration, you will be eligible to begin receiving SSDI benefits again in the month after you are released. However, should you violate the terms of parole or probation, your benefits may be revoked again.

Discuss Your Application for Government Benefits with a Massachusetts Lawyer

If you have recently served time for a criminal conviction, you may have experienced having your benefits withheld for the duration of your imprisonment. Or, if you have not yet applied for benefits, you may have been told that you are only eligible after your release. In these circumstances, it is important to carefully follow the Social Security Administration’s rules and procedures, while avoiding having benefits further withheld or revoked. At Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., our government benefits attorneys understand the complications during the eligibility process that can arise for Massachusetts residents and have worked with numerous individuals to help them pursue the benefits they deserve. From our Boston offices, we have counseled numerous claimants from areas throughout Massachusetts, including in Plymouth, Essex, and Suffolk Counties. Contact us for more information at (800) 367-0871 or online.