Does a felony conviction prevent you from getting disability benefits / SSI?

I saw this question in the comments on Jonathan Ginsberg’s site, Social Security Disability Blog:

I would like to know if a convicted felon, who is not incarcerated, can receive Title 16 SSI disability?

This is a great wrinkle on our current discussion on the effect of incarceration on Social Security disability benefits, including SSI.  I encourage anyone interested in this topic to bookmark this link and check back as I will be adding articles to the subject in the days and weeks to come.

As a Social Security lawyer in Colorado, I have worked with a number of individuals with felonies and helped them get their Social Security benefits including Title 16 SSI benefits.

I am not aware of any circumstance where the fact of a prior felony prevents someone from receiving Social Security disability benefits as a result of the charge being a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Keep in mind that we are talking about a past conviction. You cannot receive Social Security  benefits while you are incarcerated.

There may be some circumstances which would change this, but I cannot think of one.  So, “yes,” you can get SSI benefits even if you have been convicted of a felony in the past. However, you still have to qualify for SSI and there has to be no other problem that might keep you from getting benefits.

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Disclaimer: This is NOT legal advice. This site provides general information about Social Security disability cases in Colorado. To discuss your particular circumstances, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please review the full disclaimer .

About Tomasz Stasiuk

Tomasz Stasiuk is a Colorado Springs Social Security disability lawyer and the founding attorney of the Stasiuk Firm - a law firm specializing in Social Security disability cases in Colorado. Follow Tomasz Stasiuk on Google and Twitter

  • http://www.SocialSecurityInsider.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    Unfortunately, “hire-ability” is not considered by Social Security in
    determining whether an individual is eligible for disability.

    In other words, Social Security only looks at whether a person is
    physically and mentally capable of doing a job, not whether the person
    will get hired for a job.

    In every case that I have seen, a prison record is a hireability
    issue, not a disability issue.

  • W. Dean Stoner

    I am a two way radio technician. I keep loosing my job, due to a past felony record. The companies do a back ground check, after they hire, and then-when it comes back “fail”, they let me go. Since my conviction, I cannot keep a job long. Five years, I kept one, it was the longest.
    A prison record, when you work as a two way radio technician, when you do service work on the IL State Police repeater sites, and mobile radios, is not good. So-my question is, Does having a felony conviction, and a prison record, which limits you on your job, give you the eligibility for SSI?

  • http://www.ColoradoSocialSecurityLaw.com TomaszStasiuk

    Unfortunately, “hire-ability” is not considered by Social Security in
    determining whether an individual is eligible for disability.

    In other words, Social Security only looks at whether a person is
    physically and mentally capable of doing a job, not whether the person
    will get hired for a job.

    In every case that I have seen, a prison record is a hireability
    issue, not a disability issue.

  • W. Dean Stoner

    I am a two way radio technician. I keep loosing my job, due to a past felony record. The companies do a back ground check, after they hire, and then-when it comes back “fail”, they let me go. Since my conviction, I cannot keep a job long. Five years, I kept one, it was the longest.
    A prison record, when you work as a two way radio technician, when you do service work on the IL State Police repeater sites, and mobile radios, is not good. So-my question is, Does having a felony conviction, and a prison record, which limits you on your job, give you the eligibility for SSI?

  • Ontime5455

    I am a construction worker with a felony and with things like they now there is no work out there and at 55 years old I have had no luck getting a job. MY question is how this is not being disabled I was incarerated for 10 1/2 years of a 16 year sentance and got out of prison in 2002 I worked until
    2007 most of time. Because in construction with small business they don’t run checks on your past I can’t find no work because I made a mistake at a bar one night and my life is over in the workforce. ps haven’t drink since that night. soon to be homeless if something don’t give soon.

  • Steven R. Miller Jr.

    Steven R. Miller Jr Steve DOb 8 13 62 > have not paid past due benefits in 8 years attorney approved. only way to job success thousands due. cost me ten full time jobs proves itself 900 a week 48 hours amazon fernley through a rip off called integrity staffing. but 415 488 2085 adolf hitler actual torture. seceret serivice said actual “kiss my evil ass!”Agent jacob grey. “you dont have to even mena it” use of terrorist threat s law ties in owe me millions in san francisco. questionable other major diabolical.call them. call press lawyers use thsi law wont get job done. even fo big money! 5 31 03 arrest 5 1 05 arrest under only illegaly wide open I win alone off this twice. all i signed too.threat!in it! they must eb joking/steven miller dob 8 13 62.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RTSG3YXHCE6I4LUZ7AWCTSF2PM LifeRyder

    My son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease while I was deployed for OIF in 2003. Since then he has been convicted of a 3rd Degree/Vehicluar Fleeing and Alluding. While in jail, he suffered not one but two flare-ups. The second landed him in ER surgery. Now, because of Wayne Co. (MI) finanical situations, they have again released him. This time with a tether, which he is expected to pay for monthly. With his medical condition, and now two (2) felonies along with jail time, companies don’t want him. They view his medical conditon as a liability, not to mention felony record. SSI has denied him a claim…now what?

  • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

    Well, you probably already know that the options on most denials are 1) appeal, 2) reapply, or 3) drop it. The denial discusses the time limit your son has to appeal.

    You may want to contact a lawyer in your area to go over these options and evaluate your son’s chances of success and what would need to be done to build his case, if you decide to appeal.

    I have also written about Social Security, criminal records and hireability here: http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2010/11/social-security-hireability-and-criminal-felony-conviction/

  • InquiringMom

    My son is presently incarcerated for DUI in Oklahoma, awaiting placement in a year long rehab for chemical dependency. He had applied for Soc Sec disability approximately 3 years ago for depression, anxiety attacks, and pain from neck, back and shoulder injuries. His prescription drug problems were connected to these issues.
    He has been acquiring medical and psychiatric counseling documentation during this time. He was denied 3 times, but now has a hearing in April of this year. Unfortunately, he will have to postpone the hearing as he will not be allowed to leave rehab to attend. Also, he will not receive any licensed psychological or psychiatric treatment, or continued medical treatment on a regular basis as far as I know during this year long rehab requirement.
    My question is, how will these restrictions affect his Soc Sec disability application? What would be your recommendation for him to follow? He was dismissed by the paralegal he had when he was arrested for DUI. She became angry and said he’d “messed up the deal”. Frankly I was glad, but I did pick up his file and CD from her office. He really does need disability help as well as rehab. He’s a bright, college educated man that got off track in recent years, but is eager to further his education and start rebuilding his life, and the Soc Sec disability would clearly help as I’m afraid he is going to have problems finding a job when he gets out of rehab with a felony on his record.

  • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

    That’s an entire case worth of advice you are asking for. :)

    I recommend your son obtain representation as soon as possible. You may be able to hire someone on his behalf during his rehab.

    If the hearing has been scheduled, and he will be unavailable due to inpatient rehab, this scheduling conflict needs to be taken care of. Social Security does not look very fondly on “no-shows.”

  • Jimiallen95

    I am a Ky resident I spent the last 6 yrs. incarcerated(Jan. 3,2006-Jan.3,2012), I have been disabled since 1992, I am having a huge ordeal in getting my benefits re-instated despite my myriad of medical conditions that have only compounded by my many years on internment, and the sad state of correctional medical care. I am being forced to re-pay medicare deductions that were mounting during my incarceration despite my many letters to the SSA and the commissioner himself. My criminal conviction has been vacated and remanded once, and is for the 2nd time before the Ky Sup. Court. If reversed can i receiveall benefits I would have received if not for the wrongful conviction? Harlie P. Lewis-Ky 

  • convict215790

    you got off on a technicality. scum bag. you should be in prison.

  • Sid

    I think that is a bunch of bullcrap ,you are square with the house.Made a poor choice paid the price . I wish people would stop with that type of background checks ,only if working with children should you be background checked . I don’t know why the Politicians can’t figure this one out . If I was 18 and slept with my girlfriend and were I gaged ,and the engagement was broke off ,could she press for statutatory rape Charges ? Here in Michigan Gov Snyder made some adjustments to that sex effender law what is I dont know

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