My ex is in jail. Why can I not get his social security?
My ex is in jail.  Why can I not get his social security?

My ex is in jail. Why can I not get his social security?

Q. My ex is in jail, I am currently receiving what they call spousal benefits, which are just over $ 900 a month. My ex collects nothing because he’s in jail. Why can I not collect the full amount of the social benefits we have jointly paid?

– Trying to understand

A. In short, it’s because of the rules.

Social security rules are complicated to begin with, but there is an extra wrinkle for a family with one imprisoned member.

Pursuant to Section 404,468 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Non-Payment of Prisoner Benefits): “No monthly benefits will be paid to any individual for any month, the individual of whom is incarcerated in a prison, jail or other penitentiary or penitentiary for the conviction of a crime… however, this only applies to the prisoner; Benefits to any other person entitled on the basis of the prisoner’s salary and self-employment income shall be paid as if the prisoner had received benefits. “

In other words, family members of an incarcerated person are eligible to receive social security benefits under the same rules as family members of non-incarcerated individuals, said David Principe, a certified financial planner with SAGEbroadview Wealth Management in Morristown.

Under social security rules, the worker’s spouse – in this case, the “worker” is the imprisoned party and the “spouse” is the non-imprisoned spouse – may be entitled to a benefit based on the worker’s earnings, he said.

“The spouse must be at least 62 years old or have a qualified child in his or her custody,” he said. “A qualifying child is a child who is under the age of 16 or who receives disability benefits from social security.”

A benefit based on a spouse’s work is called a “spouse benefit”.

Spouse benefit can be as much as half the worker’s primary insurance amount (PIA), depending on the spouse’s age at retirement, he said. PIA is the benefit that a worker would receive if he / she chooses to start receiving pension benefits at his / her normal retirement age.

The benefit the spouse receives may be affected based on the age at which the spouse begins to receive it, but in any case it will be based on the greater of either their own pension benefit or half of the employee’s pension benefit – again, the spouse benefit.

If the worker is to be released from prison, there are a few ways to restart their own benefit, Principe said. If the prison has a pre-release program with Social Security, they can contact Social Security up to 90 days before release, he said. If they do not, they should contact Social Security directly.

The social security website has a number of resources available online to help guide incarcerated individuals and their families on how to administer their services.

Mail your questions to [email protected].

Karin Price Mueller writes Confused column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. sign up‘s weekly e-newsletter.

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