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Obtaining Federal Benefits for Disabled Offenders: Part 1 -- Social Security Benefits

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2007
3 pages
Publication Series
This first part of a three-part series on the findings of a study of programs designed to obtain Federal disability benefits for inmates as part of reentry planning addresses the results of efforts in Texas and New York to ensure that eligible inmates receive social security benefits upon release from prison.
The Social Security Administration administers two programs that provide monthly cash benefits to disabled people who meet specified criteria. These programs are commonly called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Offenders who are receiving SSDI or SSI benefits upon entering incarceration will have their benefits suspended if they are incarcerated for more than 30 days. SSDI benefits are restored upon release if the offender files a request with the Social Security Administration. Believing that inmates who receive medical and cash assistance shortly after release are less likely to require emergency hospitalization or commit new crimes to obtain income, the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders With Medical and Mental Impairments launched a pilot project that targets adult inmates with special needs who may be eligible for SSDI or SSI. Up to 120 days prior to release, benefits eligibility specialists assist inmates in applying for these benefits. New York has established a memorandum of understanding with the Social Security Administration to file prerelease applications for severely mentally and medically ill inmates in State prisons. In both States, having designated specialists who work with inmates in order to ensure the resumption or obtain initial receipt of Federal disability benefits has improved reentry medical services for eligible individuals. 3 notes

Date Published: April 1, 2007