During a recent phone call with my husband Jerry, he mentioned that one of the prisoners in his quad had received a two page notice regarding ex-offenders and their "right" to collect monies from Social Security upon their release from prison. This "notice" also stated that it had to be done within 36 hours of their release in order to collect.

We both discussed it and decided that it was untrue and Jerry said he'd send me the "notice" in the mail. I decided to do some investigating of my own and visited the SSA website where I searched for any information at all that could remotely come close to what the "notice" was about. What I found out is posted below...

Not long after I noticed on another prisoner support website, there was a discussion written about the monies that ex-offenders are "entitled" to. The article was in fact, about the same "notice" Jerry and I spoke about a few days prior; and the website was advising how ex-offenders can go about collecting.

I realized at this point this untruth was making it's rounds, circulating among the prisoner support networks and family and friends were believing what was written.

This is the information I found out:

First, Social security benefits are not available to ex-felons, for any reason just because you've been in prison. Prisoners are not a "disadvantaged class" as defined by any government agency. No, there is no "pot of money" that is given to ex-offenders for each month they spent in prison, nor are ex-offenders classified as a "disabled minority" for purposes of obtaining social security benefits upon release. Only mentally ill (documented by psychiatric testing) persons and other physically disabled persons, who may also have been in prison, are eligible to receive social security benefits, but NO ONE qualifies simply because they have been incarcerated. This is a rumor that has circulated among the prisoner population for years and is simply not true. For those who were collecting social security prior to being sentenced to prison, the law specifically prohibits continuation of the benefits while the person is incarcerated. (Note: spousal benefits may continue in some cases).

Next, ex-prisoners are not entitled to be reimbursed upon release from prison for monies that were deducted from their inmate accounts for room, board, court-ordered restitution, fines, etc. from jobs they held which allowed them to earn money above the prevailing WIPP (Work Incentive Pay Plan) wages. WIPP wages are allocated to be from 10 - 50 cents/hour, depending upon the job assignment. Arizona state law provides that inmates who work at certain contract labor, ACI (Arizona Correctional Industries) or other minimum-wage-type jobs are required to pay room, board, court-ordered restitution or fines, etc. Even with these deductions, inmates who hold these jobs still come out ahead of those who work for WIPP wages. For some reason, a rumor has circulated among prisoners that, once released, an ex-offender is entitled to apply for reimbursement of the above listed statutory deductions. This is an absurd proposition, but the rumor persists.

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From SSA website:

Q - What special programs are available for ex-prisoners?

A - The Social Security Administration does not provide any special benefits for ex-prisoners. Once you are released, you may get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (see Supplemental Security Income (SSI)) payments if you are 65 or older, or are blind or have a disability and have little or no income and resources. If you qualify, you will not be paid for the retroactive months that you were in prison.

Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability (RSDI—Title II) (see Understanding The Benefits) benefits may be payable if you have worked and paid into Social Security enough years (this is determined by your age and the date you became disabled or turned age 62), and:

* You have a physical or mental condition so severe that it will make you unable to do any work for at least a year, or
* You are legally blind, even with glasses, or
* You are age 62 or older.

If you meet the above requirements, Social Security benefits may also pay:

* Your child who is under age 18, or severely disabled before age 22, or
* Your wife who is age 62 or older, or is caring for your child who is under age 16 or severely disabled before age 22.

If you think you could qualify for benefits based on the above requirements, you should call Social Security’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-772-1213. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY 1-800-325-0778. If you are severely disabled or over age 62 and you have dependents who could be paid based on your work covered by Social Security, you should call Social Security immediately.

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On our website T.I.M.E.©, we encourage our members to be diligent in investigating and researching BEFORE we assume that what we hear and read is the truth with regards to our incarcerated loved ones. It's our responsibility to make sure the information passed on is accurate.

As well, we have many members who rely on the information that is posted and/or passed on to be factual and on T.I.M.E.© we do our best to ensure that it is; however, should any members of our or any organization have questions, you must make it a point to ask!

There are many knowledgeable loved ones and family members who may be able to assist you with your concerns!

And always remember, there are organizations, forums and groups that are there to help you!

In Unity -
Marti
Director of Operations
T.I.M.E.©
Treating Inmates Morally & Ethically©