TN 34 (10-15)

GN 02607.001 Provisions for Confinements Beginning 04/01/2000 and Continuing


Section 202(x) of the Social Security Act

This subchapter provides policies and procedures relating to the prisoner and other inmate suspension provisions of the Social Security Act (the Act).

A. Suspension provisions

1. Payment prohibitions

The Act prohibits the payment of Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits to beneficiaries who are confined:

  1. in a correctional institution for more than 30 continuous days due to a conviction for committing a criminal offense. For the purposes of this subchapter, we identify this category of inmates as “prisoners” (for prisoner suspension policy, see GN 02607.160); or

  2. by court order in an institution at the public’s expense for more than 30 continuous days in connection with a verdict or finding that they are:

    • not-guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) (for NGRI suspension policy, see GN 02607.310);

    • incompetent to stand trial (IST)(for IST suspension policy, see GN 02607.330); or

    • sexually dangerous persons (SDP) (for SDP suspension policy, see GN 02607.350).

2. Treatment of auxiliary benefits

Suspension of the wage earner’s benefits does not affect the payment of any auxiliaries or survivors on the record. If an auxiliary or survivor is the prisoner, NGRI, IST, or SDP, and any of the payment prohibitions listed in GN 02607.001A.1. in this section applies, suspend the auxiliary’s or survivor’s benefits and adjust the benefits of the other beneficiaries on the account under the deduction-before-reductions procedure. For information on the deduction-before-reduction procedure, see GN 02603.040.

B. Definitions for suspension provisions

This is a list of definitions of terms used throughout this subchapter:

  1. Confinement -- when an individual is in the custody of a United States (including US territories) correctional or mental health facility. Also consider beneficiaries confined when they are:

    • temporarily outside a facility because of hospitalization;

    • temporarily outside a facility to work or attend school;

    • escapees or those who fail to report to begin their sentence; or

    • transferred from the facility to a halfway house or a work release program.

    Confinement, for Title II purposes, does not include:

    • any month throughout which a beneficiary is living outside the correctional institution at no expense (other than the cost of monitoring) to the institution, the correctional agency, or any agency that has authority over the beneficiary (e.g., home monitoring); or

    • residence in a correctional institution for 30 days or less.

  2. Conviction -- a court verdict that finds a defendant guilty upon conclusion of a trial or upon accepting a guilty plea or other plea that is equivalent to a guilty plea (nolo contendere or Alford pleas).

    A nolo contendere plea means the beneficiary does not contest the criminal charges, but does not admit or deny the charges. An Alford plea means the beneficiary concedes there is enough evidence to convict him or her of the crime, pleads guilty to take advantage of a plea offer, but denies that he or she has in fact committed the crime. Consider both the nolo contendere and Alford pleas as guilty pleas for Title II suspension purposes.

    Do not consider a beneficiary convicted when a court:

    • sets aside a previous guilty plea (the court may enter a not guilty plea, either on its own motion on behalf of the defendant, or upon the defendant's request);

    • chooses to delay the acceptance of a guilty plea until receipt of a pre-sentence report;

    • overturns a prior conviction; or

    • convicts the beneficiary of a criminal offense but postpones sentencing. A court must complete both the conviction and sentencing phases of a trial before we consider a beneficiary convicted.

    NOTE: We do not suspend Title II benefits for military incarcerations. Military law is separate from civilian law by the code that governs each justice system. Military charges are governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which