The first thing to keep in mind if you are incarcerated in prison is that you will not receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments or benefits during the months you are imprisoned, nor are you immediately eligible upon release. Once you have been incarcerated for 30 consecutive days, your benefits are suspended; if your spouse and/or children are still eligible, though, their benefits will continue. After 12 consecutive months, your benefits are terminated and upon release you must reapply for SSI payments and benefits with documents proving your release. If you are released before 12 months have passed, your benefits can be reinstated after a month has passed since your release date. Before they can be reinstated, though, you will need to provide the local Social Security office a copy of your release documents. In regards to your SSI payments, once you are released from prison your payments will start back up that same month. It is important to remember that you can’t receive benefits until you are actually released and have proven that to Social Security as well as prove you are still eligible.
If you were incarcerated before you were receiving SSI payments and benefits and would like to pursue Social Security, you may file while you are in prison. If the facility you are incarcerated at has a prerelease agreement with Social Security all you will need to do is talk with your facility about your desire to start an application for Social Security once your release date is known. They will then be in touch with Social Security as to whether or not you are eligible. You will then need to fill out an application months prior to your release date so Social Security is able to process it as soon as possible. This is optimal because it will mean you can receive your benefits sooner than later after being released.
If the facility you are incarcerated at does not have a prerelease agreement, you will need to contact Social Security on your own once you have your release date. All you need to do for this is get a hold of a representative there and inform them on your release date and that you would like to apply for SSI payments and benefits. You will then receive an appointment upon release with a representative at the local office to discuss your eligibility and application process.