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eeagle - 1/17/2013 8:59:11 AM
HIV positive offenders Social Security Disability application
Corrie McPherson
Q:  Is the application process for Social Security Disability part of the Re Entry component before an offender is released for HIV positive offenders?

Niki Miller
A: Thanks for your question. If the offender qualifies for disability --- yes, absolutely.  HIV in and of itself may not qualify as a disability , but if the progression is such that medical conditions prohibit employment or if the offender has other issues such as psychiatric conditions that are disabling, they could qualify.

More detailed information on this process is in our Aftercare curriculum, which will be available soon.  Below are some of the resources from that curriculum specific to disability for re-entering offenders.

•    Offenders who qualify for federal disability programs can usually begin the application process 90 days pre-release.  At the link that follows, very useful publications from the Bazelon Center for Metal Health Law are listed.  They include handy pamphlet titled “Arrested? What Happens to Your Benefits If You Go to Jail” along with a series of reports on securing benefits for re-entering offenders.

Re-entry Resource Center
Preserving existing benefits
Federal Social Security policy currently allows states to suspend Supplemental Security Income (SSI), after one full month of confinement, rather than terminate it for inmates incarcerated for less than twelve consecutive months. However, after the twelfth month their benefits are terminated and they have to go through the lengthy process of reapplying.  Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is not terminated or suspended, although no payments are made. Survivor benefits may continue for minor children under 18. After two years on SSDI, recipients qualify for Medicare.

RSAT programs should develop a process to flag inmates receiving benefits and consider steps to preserve them.  Inmates in work release programs may be able to re-open their disability case if they are no longer covered by correctional health services and if they have not been in prison for 12 consecutive months. This action step may necessitate collaboration with the state agency that “switches on” Medicaid. In some states this is the Medicaid Authority, in others it is the Department of Human Services, and yet in others, it is the Department of Insurance.

The Legal Action Center has compiled a toolkit on restoring Medicaid upon release from prison. It is designed for criminal justice advocates, but provides valuable information that RSAT administrators can use to advocate for policies in their states to provide eligible individuals with immediate access to Medicaid upon release from jail or prison.
The toolkit can be found at:


Brazelon Center for Mental Health Law ( series includes staff training)
  • Finding the Key to Successful Transition from Jail to the Community: An Explanation of Federal Medicaid and Disability Program Rules. Technical explanation of federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and applicable Medicaid and Medicare rules.
  • Arrested? What Happens to Your Benefits If You Go to Jail Or Prison? This booklet is a guide to federal rules on SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans benefits written for adults with disabilities.
  • Creating New Options: Training for Corrections Administrators and Staff on Access to Federal Benefits for People with Mental Illnesses Leaving Jail or Prison. Manual and accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

Hope these are helpful