Can I collect social security benefits while incarcerated?

While you can’t collect social security benefits while incarcerated, whether benefits are suspended or terminated depends on how long you’re there.

Though you won’t be able to collect social security benefits while incarcerated, your benefits will be suspended, rather than terminated, if you serve less than 30 days; and payments to your spouse and children will still be made as long as they remain eligible.

If you serve less than 30 days, you will be eligible for reinstatement the month following your release. For instance, if you serve from June until September (three months), you can apply for benefit reinstatement and start receiving payments again in October.

However, If you are incarcerated for more than 12 months, your benefits will be terminated, and you must start over again with a new application once you’re released.

Medicaid and Medicare

When in prison, your Medicare Part A coverage, for hospital insurance, remains in effect during the sentence. Your Medicare Part B, or medical insurance, will be suspended if you do not continue making premium payments while you are incarcerated. To restart your Medicare Part B coverage, you will need to file a new application during an open enrollment period. If your Medicaid is terminated while you are incarcerated, you will need to file another application with your local social services department once you are released.

Reinstating Your Benefits After Release

It is important to remember that release does not automatically make you eligible to receive benefits again. Your benefits will be reinstated as long as you are still eligible to receive them after you are released. For instance, if you are no longer considered disabled after your release, you could lose your benefits.

Once you know your release date, you can speak with someone in the facility about restarting your benefits. If your institution has a pre-release agreement with the local SSA office, attorneys can start working on your application months before your release, so you will have benefits ready to go upon your release. If your facility does not have pre-release agreement with a local SSA office, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for assistance.

If Your Conviction is Reversed

If for any reason the court reverses your conviction, they must agree not to try you again. If they do try you again, you must be found not guilty in order to remain eligible to receive your benefits.


If you are on probation, or otherwise not confined to a jail, prison, or other facility for more than 30 days, you are still eligible to receive your benefits.

If you need specific advice regarding social security benefits while incarcerated, please contact us directly at 888-468-3741, send a message; or click the button below to chat online with a representative any time.

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