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Navigating the Healthcare Coverage and SSA Disability Benefits Systems While Incarcerated and upon Release

SAMHSA’s GAINS Center

By Julie McLafferty

Whether working inside a correctional facility or coordinating a transition for an individual on release, understanding the basics around benefits is the first step to ensuring continuity of care for individuals with a serious mental illness or medical impairment. Intentional discharge planning from incarceration back into the community includes an assessment of eligibility for benefits and healthcare coverage. Research suggests that gaining (or regaining) access to Medicaid or Medicare and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits upon release could reduce the likelihood of recidivism by alleviating healthcare and housing barriers.

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