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Helping Inmates Obtain Federal Disability Benefits

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2007
25 pages
This study assessed three programs that assist inmates in preparing and filing prerelease applications for Federal disability benefits, so they can continue to receive funding for treatment without interruption after they are released from prison or jail.
The results of the research in the three study sites--State of Texas, the city of Philadelphia, and the State of New York--show that helping offenders obtain Federal benefits not only can increase their access to care after release, but can also reduce the financial burden on State and local governments that fund indigent health care systems. Six lessons were learned from these three programs. First, interagency partnerships are essential to the benefits application process. Second, assigning prison/jail staff to benefits tasks can develop expertise and streamline administrative processes. Third, it is essential to find ways to finance treatment and monitor released offenders until benefits begin. Fourth, tracking outcomes of the process is useful in improving procedures and sustaining funding. Fifth, centralizing operations can help reduce delays and improve communication among partner organizations. Sixth, assisting mentally-ill inmates and released offenders pose special challenges. A limitation of the assessment of the three programs is that they have not conducted adequate outcome research. Systematic data collection would aid research and guide practice. The Federal disability benefits programs that were the focus of the three programs were Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans compensation or pension funds. 3 exhibits and 13 notes

Date Published: December 1, 2007