Yes, as a fleeing felon your SSI benefits can be suspended or terminated (depending on how quickly and in what way you resolve the matter you fled from.)
Missing a court date is not like missing a dentist appointment. When you are required to appear at a court proceeding, it is in your best interest to make every possible attempt to be there. If you are a defendant in a criminal case, and do not show up for your day in court, in most cases the judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.
If a bench warrant has been issued in your name because of your failure to appear, it is generally only a matter of time before you are found by the police placed under arrest and in jail. Even if the police aren’t actively kicking down doors to find you (they probably aren’t, on a misdemeanor offense), any encounter with the police can is likely to end in your arrest.
Under Social Security's "fleeing felon" rules, your SSI, Social Security Disability or Social Security Retirement benefits can be cut off if you are fleeing to escape prosecution for a crime, fleeing after a conviction, fleeing to avoid giving testimony, or if you violate your probation or parole. This includes having an outstanding arrest warrant for an offense related to "fleeing" like escape, flight to avoid prosecution, flight-escape. The crime or arrest warrant may even be one that you do not remember or know about.
Before your benefits are cut off, Social Security will send you a letter (called a "Notice of Planned Action") saying that they plan to cut off your benefits. The notice will say that your benefits will be cut off in 10-30 days, and that you have the right to show Social Security "good cause" for why your benefits should not be cut off. You must go to the Social Security office to show that you have "good cause" in the time period stated in the letter (anywhere from 10-30 days from the date of the letter).
In the time stated in the "Notice of Planned Action" letter (generally 10-30 days), you should go to your local SSA office and ask them to make a "good cause determination," and to start your benefits again. Tell SSA of any good excuse you have for not taking care of the warrant.
It is up to SSA to determine what is "good cause." Some examples of what might be good cause:
It is a case of mistaken identity; you are not the person named in the warrant ; The crime that was the subject of the warrant was non-violent and not drug-related; You were not convicted of any more crimes since the warrant was issued; The state that issued the warrant doesn't want to act on the warrant, or, if it is a state where you no longer live, that state does not want to bring you back for prosecution for the crime; There is only one warrant out for your arrest, and that warrant is over 10 years old; Someone has legal guardianship over your person; or You live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility;
There are 2 things you can do if SSA says that you do not have "good cause." You should do both of these things:
1) You can appeal the decision to cut off your benefits. You must file a "request for reconsideration" within 60 days of the date of your notice. You must prove to SSA there is no warrant out for your arrest or that you have "good cause," as described above (2) You have to take care of the warrant by facing prosecution in the state where the warrant was issued. The first step should be to talk to a lawyer or public defender in the county where the warrant is issued. Ask them to help you "quash" or "dismiss" the warrant, or to represent you in the criminal case for which the warrant was issued.
If a warrant has been issued Social Security will consider the payments from the date of the warrant until the cut off your benefits as overpaid benefits and want the money back; If a person is suspended retroactively for a period during which benefits were paid, the person would be overpaid and SSA would attempt to recover the overpayment.
Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.
My suggestion is you find an attorney in the CA area to help straighten out the matter. Get it cleaned up on your own, so any outstanding warrants are resolved. Otherwise, m y colleague's advice is sound - it is only a mmater of time before the system catches up to you, and then it becomes more of a problem for you.
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