Imprisonment & Military Benefits

Do I get to keep my military benefits if my spouse or I are incarcerated?

The continuation of your benefits will be determined by the type of military benefits you receive and the reason for your incarceration.

Do my military disability payments continue?

Most disability payments will continue during your incarceration at a reduced rate if you have been sentenced for more than 60 days upon a felony conviction.  The amount your payment will be reduced depends on what percentage of disability you receive.  See chart below.

It is important that you know whether your punishment is considered an “incarceration” as this will determine the status of your benefits and whether they are reduced or not.  If you are participating in a work release program, residing in a halfway house/residential re-entry center, or under community control, you are not considered “incarcerated” under Veteran’s Affairs’ definition.

Disability Rating Payment During Incarceration
20% or more 10% disability rating
10% 5% disability rating(1/2 reduction)

Can I still retain my pension payments while I’m incarcerated?

If you are incarcerated for more than 60 days, on your 61st day of confinement, your pension payments will terminate.  Importantly, this applies to both felony and misdemeanor convictions alike.  There are no payment reductions for pension benefits.

I’m receiving educational benefits from the military…am I entitled to those benefits?

The easy answer is yes.  However, the amount of educational benefits you will receive will depend on your type of confinement and whether you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense.

If you were incarcerated for anything other than a felony, you can receive your full benefits as long as you are otherwise eligible.  If you are a convicted felon residing in a halfway house/residential re-entry center or participating in a work release program, you are also eligible to receive your full monthly educational benefits.  However, if you were incarcerated for a felony conviction you can only be paid the costs of tuition, fees, books, equipment, and supplies.  This is true unless another federal, state, or local program is paying for these costs in full.  If a federal, state, or local program only partially covers your educational costs, you may be approved for payment of your educational benefits in order to cover the remaining costs.

Can my family receive my disability or pension benefits while I’m incarcerated?

Veterans Affairs (VA) can make payments to your spouse and child while you are incarcerated.  These payments can be for a full or partial benefit amount.  Your dependents must file a claim for an apportionment of your benefits in order for VA to consider awarding any payments of your benefits to them.  VA will notify you regarding your dependents right to apportionment and the process to follow in order to petition for them.  Remember, apportionment is not an automatic process, so it is important for your dependents to file their claim as soon as possible.

Do my benefits reinstate automatically upon my release?

NO!  Regardless of what kind of military benefits you might receive, you must request that your benefits be reinstated.  You will need to contact your local office and provide them a copy of your release documents before they can take action upon your request for reinstatement of your benefits.  It is advisable that you contact the VA office to determine what documentation you need and what specific steps you must take to get your benefits reinstated.

How will the VA know if I’m incarcerated?  What if I just don’t tell them so my family continues to receive my benefits?

It is YOUR responsibility to advise VA that you are incarcerated.  If you do not notify VA of the status of your incarceration, you may face punishment for your actions.  It is always best to be proactive with such matters in order to avoid compromising any of your future benefits or repercussions for your deception to a government agency.

Who should I contact if I have further questions?

If you are unsure what kind of benefits you receive or have questions or concerns regarding your incarceration and your benefits, please visit Veteran’s Affairs website or call 1-800-827-1000 (TTY 711) or by accessing the “Contact Us” page.