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Prison Path

Can Inmates Collect Social Security?



The percentage of inmates in federal and state prisons aged 55 and older increased by 33% during the period of 2000 – 2005. The majority of this older prison population were already incarcerated before the onset of their golden years. A segment of this aging population start their imprisonment after the age of 62. The following article addresses the issue of eligibility for social security after incarceration.

Can you collect Social Security in prison?
— Dr. Don Taylor, Ph.D., CFA, CFP, CAS

Dear Dr. Don,
My brother-in-law has just been convicted of a felony and will spend the next 19 months in a Michigan prison. Will the government withhold his Social Security income because of this? His wife needs that money. Thanks.
— Rose Relation

Dear Rose,
Your brother-in-law’s Social Security benefits will be suspended while he’s in prison. That’s required under a federal law called the No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners Act of 2009. The law cuts off payments for people who have been convicted and confined in a correctional facility for more than 30 consecutive days. If his spouse or children qualify for Social Security benefits, however, they’ll continue to receive them while he is confined, as long as they remain eligible. Once he’s out, he can start receiving benefits again. He will need to contact Social Security and provide a copy of his release documents before they can reinstate benefits. The Social Security Administration’s publication “What Prisoners Need to Know” can provide additional information.

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