Do Felons Get Social Security?

Most people expect to reach a ripe old age. However, long before that, they would hope to be able to retire. Retiring sadly still attracts costly life expenses.

Hence the need to have a source of funds to take care of your needs during this period. Social security a basic retirement plan open to working Americans. It is a safe option that is not subject to financial market fluctuations or investment risk.

Some may however be wondering, do felons get social security? Does being convicted of a crime affect your access to social security funds when you retire?

do felons get social security

Just as with non-offenders, many felons can expect to reach the end of their working life. But to retire comfortably, they need to know they will still have enough income to meet their needs.

Social security is an important aspect of retirement planning. It is the most secure pension plan that is run by the government.

These funds are however limited. And as such people tend to be picky about who should be entitled. Felons are often seen as undesirables.

Due to their crimes and prison time that takes them out of the work, they are often seen as unfit.

So the concern becomes, do they still get their benefits if they are in prison? If not, do the payments resume when they are released? And what happens to other beneficiaries/dependents?

Before we discuss whether a felony can deny someone from this program, let’s look at its benefits.

Benefits of Social Security

do felon get social security

The basic benefit here is poverty relief. There is an age at which people become no longer able to hold down a job. This can happen in both white and blue-collar jobs.

As a result, they will have to rely on their savings to live. This and any other investments. They will still have regular expenses to cover including food, housing, clothing, medicine, and more.

Though modest, these funds do much to keep seniors out of poverty. And able to make ends meet.

Social security provides retirement protection as payouts are certain and timely. The savings here are surer than any other pension plan.

Besides retirement funding, social security also provides disability and life insurance cover. Disability is a real risk for many workers. It can also happen at any point in life.

In case of such prospect, social security ensures disabled persons have money to count on. The life insurance factor helps cater to the needs of young survivors of deceased workers.

Women also benefit greatly from the bulk of spousal survivor benefits. As they tend to earn less and live longer, women are in greater need of such support.

Social Security also tends to work with Medicare. This health cover is very vital in caring for seniors. It is also open for those that have disabilities and other major health concerns.

While being a government-run program does help its stability, it does raise some queries. For felons, the main concern would be if they still benefit after being convicted.

Felons tend to lose a lot of rights when convicted. From gun rights to jury duty, the impact can be diverse. Let’s discuss whether it also affects their retirement plans.

Can A Felon Receive Social Security?

do the felon get social security

If you are receiving social security and are convicted of a crime, you may lose your benefits. This is however not a lasting case.

If the sentence given is more than 30 days, your payments will be suspended. This will be for the length of your sentence. After you have been released, the benefits can be reinstated the next month.

You can get the process started early in some prisons. A designated prison official can help notify Social Security up to 90 days before release. This will ensure your benefits resume on time.

The prison should be part of a prerelease program with Social Security for this to happen. If the prison or jail you are at is not, you can apply after your release.

You should be able to get the same aid if you become eligible to collect these benefits while in prison. Submitting the relevant documents under the prerelease program can ensure you start receiving benefits soon after release.

If you already had benefits being paid to your spouse or child before being convicted, this does not change. They should still receive payments even while you are in prison.

This also applies to Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This benefit is designated for low-income people that are disabled and over the age of 65 years.

When it comes to Medicare Part B (health insurance) there may be an issue. Many rely on part of their social security funds to cover these premiums.

When benefits are cut off, these premiums go unpaid. You can apply to reinstate this cover after release. It will likely however resume at a higher rate of premium than before.

So, generally, a felon can resume or become eligible for social security upon release. However, there are a few disqualifying cases.

Disqualifying Acts

do the felon get social security guide

Not all crimes are judged equally. More so if the crime has some bearing on your benefits.

If you incurred a disability from a felony act, you are disqualified from Social Security Disability benefits. The same applies if the disability was made worse by the criminal act. Or if incurred while in prison.

In the case of survivor benefits, there are also exceptions. If the beneficiary became a widow or orphan by killing their spouse or parent, they cannot receive benefits.

Certain crimes can also forever disqualify a person from social security benefits. These include convictions of treason and sabotage.

So in summary, if your disability is due to your felony, no dice. The same applies to killing a spouse or parent.

For those collecting disability, the length of the suspension will matter. If it is for less than a year, then there is no need to file a new application. If the suspension is for more than a year, then a new disability application will need to be filed.


To qualify for social security, you must meet the criteria. That is, reach the age of 65 years or older. Or have a qualifying disability with no means of financial support.

Unless any of the exceptions indicated above apply, most people can easily qualify for these benefits. Those convicted of felonies in the past should not have a problem. Unless those felonies relate to the exceptions indicated above.

As a felon in prison, the government sees no need to pay any benefits. This is because it is already catering to your needs while on the inside. After release, you can however apply for reinstatement of the benefits.

Note that you lose benefits for the entire month as long as you were in prison or jail. Even if it was just for a day.

Do remember that social security is a modest income. If you have a spouse or dependent child, then the expenses can be higher.

It is best to ensure you have other sources of income or retirement plans in place. Having other ways to supplement your income will be vital in ensuring you can live comfortably.

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