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DUI injury can I still get SSDI benefits?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I was arrested for DUI last week. I also suffered an injury in a DUI car accident which has left me partially paralyzed and unable to work for at least 12 continuous months. I am curious if I will be able to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or if I will be denied SSDI benefits because my injuries were sustained during the commission of a crime?”


DUI injury when are you still eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are benefits awarded to claimants who have a severe mental or physical health condition which does not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Assuming a claimant meets the medical and nonmedical requirements for SSDI benefits (i.e. sufficient work credits, severe injury last 12 continuous months, cannot work), they generally are approved for benefits.

Now, with that said, there are claimants who meet the requirements outlined above but who are still denied benefits because their DUI injury was sustained while they were committing a DUI felony. Under this condition, claimants can be denied benefits under what the SSA refers to as the felony impairment rule.

Felony impairment rule can be found in the Title II Regulations, 20 C.F.R. 404.1506, Subsection (a), limitations resulting from the commission of a felony must be excluded from consideration of disability under the Act:

“(a) Permanent exclusion of felony-related impairment. In determining whether you are under a disability, we will not consider any physical or mental impairment, or any increase in severity (aggravation) of a preexisting impairment, which arises in connection with your commission of a felony after October 19, 1980, if you are subsequently convicted of this crime. Your subsequent conviction will invalidate any prior determination establishing disability if that determination was based upon any impairment, or aggravation, which we must exclude under this rule.”

What if I am convicted of a misdemeanor suffer a DUI injury but I go to jail?

Above we addressed your eligibility if you suffer a DUI injury but you are charged with a felony. Misdemeanor charges, however, may still jeopardize your right to receive SSDI benefits for a DUI injury, but only for the specific time you are confined to jail or prison.

For example, you may be approved for SSDI benefits for your DUI injury but if you are sent to jail your benefits will be suspended after 30 days of incarceration (exceptions exist if you participate in an approved vocational rehabilitation program). SSDI benefits can, however, be reinstated for a DUI injury the month following your release.

Bottom line:

While having a criminal record will not by itself eliminate your right to receive SSDI benefits, if you are injured during the commission of a felony or you are in prison after committing a felony or misdemeanor you will not receive SSDI benefits.

Note: There are other reasons you can be barred from receiving benefits if you are convicted of a crime including fleeing to avoid prosecution, escaping from custody, and violating your parole or your probation.

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