Can I Receive Disability Benefits if I Have Been Convicted of a Felony?

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We are only human. And as humans, we don’t always make perfect decisions and we can make mistakes – sometimes very serious mistakes.. Perhaps it was a youthful indiscretion that snowballed into something unmanageable and eventually turned into a felony conviction. Maybe you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and became ensnared in a difficult situation at work that eventually resulted in criminal charges. Regardless of the reasons you first got into trouble, you learned your lesson, cleaned-up your act and dedicated yourself to a job or trade for many years.

Unfortunately, one of the other drawbacks to being human is that our bodies, while strong and spry in our younger days, become brittle and less able to handle the physical and mental stresses of a job. For some, this progression of an injury or other disability may eventually force them to stop working. Many people who have been convicted of a felony and used to hearing about limitations they face may believe that they are not eligible for the workers’ insurance program, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, for many, this is not true or accurate. Most individuals with a felony conviction can receive SSD benefits if they meet all program and medical requirements. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.

If you have questions about your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law has assisted Arkansans for more than 20 years. To schedule a free, confidential initial consultation call our firm at (479) 251-7767 today.

Most Individuals With a Felony Conviction Can Still Receive Benefits

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The general rule is that a felony conviction will not impact one’s eligibility for benefits. However there are exceptions. One exception is if you disability was created or made worse during the commission of a felony. Injuries from this source will not qualify for SSD benefits. If your disability or injury came into existence or was made worse while you were imprisoned due to the felony conviction. The third exception to the general rule of eligibility despite a felony conviction applies to survivor’s benefits. Here, a convicted felon is ineligible only if he or she made themselves an orphan or widow due to the killing of their own parents or spouse.  The final exception to the rule is, perhaps, slightly obvious. But, a convicted felon who flees or escapes and has an outstanding warrant cannot receive benefits.

You Cannot Receive Benefits if You are Currently Incarcerated

While convicted felons are eligible to receive benefits, they may not receive them while they are in jail, prison, an institution, or a half-way house. The individual is not eligible to receive benefits for any month or part of a month where he or she is confined to a facility under the jurisdiction of a government corrections department. Likewise, if a court order mandates an individual’s confinement because he or she is unfit to stand trial due to a mental illness or insanity, benefits will also not be paid.

The logic behind this limitation on benefits is that the individual is already being provided for at public expense. It would be unjust to ask the taxpayer to both pay for the costs of incarceration while also providing what would amount to completely discretionary income.

However, those who are currently imprisoned can apply for disability benefits while they are still in jail. The individual will not be eligible to receive those benefits until he or she has been considered disabled by the Social Security Administration for 5 or more full months or has been released for one full calendar month, whichever comes later. SSD benefits can make-up an important source of support as the individual transitions from incarceration back to freedom.

Seek a Trusted Arkansas Disability Lawyer

For more than 20 years, Ken Kieklak has fought for hard-working Arkansans who have had to stop working due to a serious injury or the development of a severe disability. Even if you made a mistake that resulted in a felony conviction at some point during your life, you are likely still eligible to receive SSD benefits if you can meet the medical and program requirements. To schedule a free and confidential SSD consultation call Ken at (479) 251-7767 or contact us online today.

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