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Injured while committing a crime will I get SSDI benefits?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I robbed a store about a year ago and was shot in the abdomen and in the leg. Due to an infection and damaged organs I will not be able to work again. I know I made a mistake when I committed the crime and did something stupid, but before this I had been a hard worker and had worked construction for fifteen years. I am wondering if I can still get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for my injuries or does my felony crime conviction eliminate my right to payments?”


What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is provided to claimants who have worked, paid employment taxes, and earned sufficient work credits to be determined “insured” by the SSA. Additionally, to qualify claimants must also have a severe health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous and lack the ability to work or perform what the Social Security Administration considers substantial gainful activity.

When am I disqualified from receiving SSDI benefits for a crime?

Given the information you provided, it sounds like you might meet the requirements outlined above. As you suspected, however, there are certain actions that an employee (who otherwise would qualify for SSDI benefits) might eliminate their right to receive benefits. In fact, each of the following actions detailed below will ensure you will be denied SSDI.

  1. Injured while committing a felony.

  2. Injured while you were imprisoned for a felony conviction.

  3. Convicted of killing your spouse or parent (which eliminates your right to SSDI survivor benefits)

  4. You committed certain federal crimes such as sabotage or treason.

  5. You are confined in jail or prison for 30 days or more. You can petition for reinstatement of benefits just prior to your release.

  6. You have escaped from police or state custody.

  7. You have fled the state to avoid prosecution.

  8. You are currently violating your probation.

  9. You are currently violating your parole.

What do I do if I cannot receive SSDI benefits?

If you do not qualify for SSDI benefits and you cannot work it is going to be tough to care for yourself. Some individuals are able to live off their savings, investments, or cash reserves, but given that you were robbing a store presumably to get money, it’s likely you don’t have much money. Unfortunately, you will probably have to rely on the goodwill of friends and family and find out what social services are available in your city and state.

Bottom line: 

Actions matter. The Social Security Administration has instituted requirements which determine when a claimant is disqualified for SSDI. Unfortunately for you, because you were injured while in the commission of a felony, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

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