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:
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
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:
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.
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 applies to all branches of the military. For the Title II prisoner suspension provisions, we look to the United States Code (U.S.C.) and State penal laws for identifying and then codifying a civilian’s criminal act.
Felony -- is any offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year under the laws of a particular jurisdiction.
Some jurisdictions (e.g., Maine, District of Columbia, New Jersey) do not classify any crime as a felony. In these jurisdictions, consider an offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year a felony.
Incompetent to Stand Trial – a court finding that a defendant is mentally incapable of helping in his/her own defense. The court never convicts a defendant who is incompetent to stand trial, but may place the defendant into the custody of an institution for medical treatment. For more information on incompetent to stand trial verdicts, see GN 02607.330.
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity -- a plea by a criminal defendant who admits the criminal act, but claims that he or she was mentally disturbed at the time of the crime and lacked the mental capacity to have intended to commit a crime. For more information on NGRIs, see GN 02607.310.
Parole -- release from jail, prison or other confinement in a correctional facility after serving part of the sentence
Probation -- the release of an offender from confinement, subject to a period of good behavior under supervision.
Sentence -- a judgment by a court in a criminal proceeding that specifies the punishment to be inflicted on the convicted individual.
Sexually Dangerous Person -- a person with a mental abnormality or personality disorder who is likely to engage in sexual offenses if released from confinement. For more information on SDPs, see GN 02607.350.