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Helping Inmates Obtain Federal Medical Benefits Postrelease

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2007
3 pages
Publication Series
This article presents a brief review of an evaluation of three prison programs designed to help inmates apply for Federal medical benefits prior to their release.
Results of a study cosponsored by the National Justice of Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the three inmate programs revealed that assisting severely ill inmates with applying for Federal medical benefits prior to their release helped to increase their chances of receiving benefits and eased their transition back into the community. The author notes that assistance with Federal medical benefits is only one part of prerelease planning that should include assistance with housing and case management services. The three programs under review were: (1) the Forensic Intensive Recovery Program in Philadelphia, which offers services in behavioral health, case management, and job training through the Philadelphia Behavioral Heath System; (2) a joint program in New York between the New York State Division of Parole and the Social Security Administration designed to help inmates apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Insurance (SSI) benefits prior to their release; and (3) and the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments, which cooperates with other States and local entities to offer transitional and case management and medical support for elderly, ill, and disabled inmates. Six recommendations are offered for agencies interested in implementing similar programs: (1) partnerships are crucial for program survival; (2) dedicated staff is important; (3) filling the gaps until benefit arrival is critical; (4) tracking outcomes is beneficial to program success; (5) centralized operations help reduce delays and improve communication; and (6) assisting mentally ill offenders requires special protocols.

Date Published: June 1, 2007