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Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits If I Have Prior Criminal Convictions?

Social Security benefits, whether they be Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are known for taking time and sometimes multiple attempts to achieve. Throughout states like California, the majority of applications are denied the first time – recent statistics show that about one in three claims is accepted on its first application.

Because of this reputation, some people may wonder whether having a criminal record will have an impact on their disability application or benefits. The general rule is that a prior felony conviction doesn’t affect an applicant’s ability to receive SSDI or SSI disability benefits. Your application also won’t be affected if you’ve been arrested.

However, certain crimes can affect your eligibility for benefits, including:

  • Sabotage
  • Treason

If you were convicted of either of the above, the court can order that the wages you received during the quarter you were convicted be excluded from determining your benefit amount.

Other Crime-Related Activities That Could Impact Eligibility

While prior convictions won’t have an impact on your application, if you’re about to be arrested or are currently in prison, your application may not be valid.

  • Applicants aren’t eligible to receive disability benefits when they have an outstanding warrant for a felony or crime, or if they’re evading arrest for committing a crime.
  • Applicants won’t be able to receive disability benefit payments if they’ve violated a condition of their parole or probation.
  • Applicants will not be paid benefits while they’re in prison for 30 days or more; benefits are reinstated in the month after release.

While a criminal record doesn’t impact your disability benefits application, you cannot apply for benefits if you sustain a disability while you’re committing a crime. If the SSA determines that your disability occurred because of the crime you committed, you may be permanently prohibited from applying for benefits for your particular disability.

What If I Became Disabled in Prison?

If your disability developed in prison, or your disability was made worse while in prison, you can apply for disability benefits. The SSA often freezes benefits when individuals are incarcerated, which means that you can only begin receiving them after you’ve been released.

We Have You Covered

There is nothing more stressful than needing disability benefits, only to have your claim denied after going through the trouble of filling everything out. You may feel helpless and out of options. Fortunately, most individuals have their social security disability applications denied the first time, and you can still seek an appeal. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping clients successfully receive benefits, and we can help you file an appeal correctly to increase your chances of being accepted. Since 1969, we’ve devoted our careers to helping clients and their families secure their futures by seeking the compensation they need.

Call Smolich & Smolich for a free consultation at (916) 571-0400, or contact us online if you have questions regarding your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. Many claims are denied the first time, but our attorneys can help you seek an appeal to have your case reconsidered.

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