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Did Social Security stop your benefits or deny your application because you had an arrest warrant?

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

You may be able to start getting benefits again. You may also be able to get thousands of dollars in back benefits. A class action lawsuit settlement called Martinez v. Astrue says:

  1. Social Security cannot deny or stop benefits because of most outstanding arrest warrants;
  2. Social Security must stop collecting overpayments based on most outstanding warrants;
  3. Social Security must pay back all benefits that they didn’t pay to some people;
  4. Social Security must pay back all benefits that that they collected as overpayments from some people.

The benefits you can get back

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
  • Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI),
  • Social Security Retirement Benefits,
  • Special Veterans Benefits (SVB) provided by Social Security.

The Martinez settlement is only about getting back benefits that were stopped, reduced, denied or collected as overpayments from you because you had an outstanding arrest warrant.

The settlement will not help you

  • if you have an outstanding warrant for violating probation or parole; or
  • if you have an outstanding warrant for charges of escape, or fleeing to avoid prosecution.


Make sure Social Security has your current address.

  • Visit your local Social Security office and ask them to put your name, address, Social Security number and phone number on the "Martinez list."
  • If you get Social Security (not SSI or SVB), you can update your address online.

Find Legal Aid

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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