Can Prisoners Be Approved for Disability Benefits?

The process to obtain Social Security (SS) disability benefits is often difficult to understand. To allow benefits to those who are desperately in need of financial assistance, the Social Security Administration (SSA) regulates eligibility based on several factors, including:

  • Is your injury is severe enough to qualify. Since disability funds are limited, only the most life-altering and debilitating disabilities are eligible for consideration
  • Whether you’re able to work despite your condition or injury. If the SSA board believes your condition can be managed and you can still find work to support your family, your claim will be denied.
  • If you’re able to prove the limitations of your condition or injury. Part of the SS application process includes presenting evidence that your condition warrants disability consideration. If you fail to provide adequate documentation and proof of your disability, your claim will be denied.
  • Whether your current income can support your family. The purpose of disability benefits is to supplement lost income caused by your condition. If your current family income level appears to be high enough to support your family, you may not be eligible for additional benefits.
  • If you’re currently serving time in jail. One of the more surprising regulations for disability is that if you’re convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail, or you’re currently residing in prison, your eligibility for disability is voided.

Prisoner Restrictions for Social Security Disability

There are two basic circumstances when a prisoner may question his ability to receive disability.

  1. He was previously approved and received benefits before his incarceration.
  2. His condition worsened while in prison and now qualifies for disability under the SSA eligibility rules.

    hands on bars

Unfortunately, both of these circumstances fail to acknowledge the purpose of disability. It isn’t enough to just have an eligible condition; that condition has to be the cause of your inability to work. For inmates, no matter how incapable they are of performing tasks, the reason they can’t support their family is because of incarceration, not because of medical limitations.

Therefore, if you become incarcerated in a prison or publicly-funded institution, your right to receive disability is suspended until your release. 

Reinstatement of Benefits After Release

Although you can’t receive benefits in prison, once you have served your time, disability approval can be reinstated. However, if you served more than 30 days, you’ll have to reapply for benefits.

To begin the reinstatement process, contact the Law Offices of Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. today. We’ll help you build your claim so that it's ready for the day of your release. In fact, if you already know your release date, we can file your claim up to three weeks before your discharge to ensure no time is wasted and benefits begin right away. Call us at (386) 673-4412 to see how we can help ensure your disability rights are upheld.