Criminal records, hire-ability, and Social Security disability

Working on the roof

CC photo credit: Aaron Escobar ♦ (the spaniard)™

What if you cannot get a job because a criminal record?  If no one will hire you, does that affect how Social Security will view your disability case?

I have a felony record from a stupid thing I did years ago. I did my time and I have not gotten in trouble since. When I was younger I did jobs that did not require a background check. Now, I’m older and I can’t do construction work any more. But I can’t get lighter work because I can’t get hired because of my record.

This is truly a “between a rock and a hard place” situation. There is no doubt that a criminal record affects an individual’s ability to get hired for jobs. Many jobs are completely foreclosed. Other jobs are at the discretion of a hiring supervisor – who may not want to hire someone with a criminal record.

These issues fall into the category of “hire-ability”– a way of describing the likelihood that an individual will actually get hired for a job they are physically and psychologically capable of performing.

The problem is that in disability cases, Social Security does not consider hire-ability into consideration when deciding if an individual is disabled. In Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases, Social Security only looks at whether an individual is able to perform the duties of the job. Social Security does not consider whether an individual is actually likely to be hired for a job.

That means that all of the issues of hire-ability: a person’s looks, their age, and any criminal status, are not considered by Social Security in deciding whether an individual is disabled.

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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.socialsecuritydisability.tv/disability_benefits.shtml Disability Benefits

    This is an interesting point. Maybe they haven’t applied ‘hire-ability’ to SSDI and SSI judgment because of how much ambiguity there is involved. Someone who is refused a position due to their criminal record may only face that problem 2/3 times they apply for a job. Or furthermore, it could be a result of what kind of place they are trying to where or where it is geographically located. Either way, its unfortunate to think of someone in a situation where they are helpless due to a skeleton they have in their closet (that they have long since put to rest).

  • http://www.jobsforfelons.net Jobs for Felons

    As someone who works in social services, and assists convicted felons in finding employment, we are asked this question on a regular basis…..if they can apply for social security with documentation from employers that they were not hired because of a criminal background. Of course, the answer is “no”, but many convicted felons inquire about this. It is a rampant complication across the United States and often these are the individuals who are unemployed the longest in this economy – those who can not find employment due to a prior mistake for which restitution and time has already been paid.

  • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

    I believe it. I have talked to number of people at Ask-a-Lawyer programs dealing with these issues. Punishing someone for something done in the past and atoned for runs counter to America’s second chance ethos. If a worker can speak to a hiring manager, the passage of time since the crime and contrition can help.

  • Fspagna

    if you get denied for ssi then go all the way to federal court and sue them.take care

  • Oliviawashington

     I am a felony how can i turn my life around when know will give me the chance to work at any type of job.

  • http://www.Planet10Tech.com TomaszStasiuk

    Have you tried volunteering to build up positive references?

  • Micah

    What if the background report contains inaccurate conviction information? For example, the conviction was for a misdemeanor – not a felony. Or, what if the arrest or conviction does not even belong to your client? That’s when a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lawyer can help your client.

  • sickofitall

     it is a horrible situation. The only solution is to somehow start your own business. Which is even harder when filing for disability. Once you start your business out of desperation and even if it fails horribly they will still consider it time worked and deny any benefits. Yet they expect you to survive 3-4 years without income.

    I know someone that has no major issues and works 10hrs a day and he filed for disability and told them he sees “green men” I laughed at him for weeks telling him my brain disease is real and on paper and I have been denied, denied, denied still appealing after 3 years. Guess what? Within 2 months he was fully approved! his world has just gone ass backwards. In a way I do wish the world would really end Dec 2012. Im sure ill still be waiting then.

    Also, people must realize that many of these people are “forced” into life of crime just to feed the family

  • Family of 4

    We are also going through the same thing. My husband has 3
    convictions of domestic assault misdemeanors
    from when he was 19 years old from verbal fights with his crazy family. He is now 30 has an education which has
    caused us thousands in debt. We have
    applied to luxury rentals to have a better place to raise our children, and he
    has applied to all major companies (Thomas Reuters, Carlson Companies,
    UnitedHealthGroup, Tek systems just to name a few) when we lived in Minnesota,
    each time they loved him had him go to a 2 day training and as soon as the
    background check came back they walked him out the door as if he was going to
    attack them. He has changed his life and is not a rude little punk. 10 years
    later we decided we needed to move because we have exhausted all options in
    Minnesota. We moved to FL because we had
    family close and we are running into the same problem. We are forced to live in
    a horrible school district because we can’t get accepted to rent a nice house
    in a good school district even with my income, which isn’t bad. We are denied
    constantly and this has started to destroy our credit. Now we are forced to
    live on one income, have tons of school debt, and can’t have the income to
    support the debt we incurred thinking a degree would help in I.T. This country is a joke. We are good citizens,
    do our part, take pride in our work, raising kids, and trying to provide a
    better life for them and no one will give us a chance. How do they expect us to
    keep on the straight and narrow if they wont allow us to survive with rising costs?
    If they wont allow him to work then he should be able to apply for social security.
    We deserve to raise our family in a good community just like everyone else. It
    is bullsh*** that we are force to live like this. Now we can’t buy a house
    because of the school loans, can’t pay toward the schools because a company
    wont hire him and a $10.00/hr warehouse job doesn’t even cover daycare so what’s
    the point.