Did Social Security stop your benefits or deny your application because you had a warrant for a violation of probation or parole?

Produced by Committee for Public Counsel Services, Disability Law Center and Greater Boston Legal Services
Created July 2010

If you have a warrant for a probation or parole violation, the new lawsuit settlement, Martinez v. Astrue, does not apply to you. So what can you do to get your benefits?

Appeal Social Security's decision to stop, reduce, or deny your benefits!

  • It is very important that you submit an appeal at your local Social Security office if your benefits have been stopped, reduced or denied because you had a probation or parole warrant;
  • If you missed the deadline to appeal, submit an appeal anyway. It may help you later if the rules at SSA change. If you have trouble submitting a late appeal, call an advocate for help.

Clear the warrant

  • If you appear in the court where the warrant has issued, the court will clear the warrant;
  • You can contact the public defender office in the area where the warrant was issued and ask them to help you. Some public defender offices may help you with this, while others may not;
  • Remember that anytime you appear to clear a warrant you may be subject to incarceration;
  • Consult with an attorney before clearing your warrant.

Apply for a "good cause" exception

  • You can file a “Request for Good Cause” form and submit it to your local Social Security office.
  • There are many factors that the Social Security Administration uses to determine good cause. Some examples of "good cause" include:
    • a court found you not guilty of the charges relating to the probation/parole violation;
    • a court dismissed the charges relating to the probation/parole violation;
    • you are incapable of resolving the warrant due to mental incapacity;
  • Consult with an advocate to find out if you should apply for a good cause exception.

Note

A lawsuit called Clark v. Astrue is pending against the Social Security Administration. The lawsuit is on behalf of people who have been denied benefits because of a parole or probation violation warrant. If this lawsuit is successful, you may be able to get benefits even if you have a probation or parole warrant. Look for news about this case in the coming months.

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You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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