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Opinion: Feds Make It Too Hard for Formerly Incarcerated People to Access Social Security Benefits

Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Jeffrey Abramowitz and TJ von Oehsen - November18th, 2022

In Pennsylvania, far more people with disabilities have been incarcerated than are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This comes as no surprise to reentry advocates, who have been hearing about the issues that people with disabilities have in accessing and maintaining SSI for years.

A recent report by Community Legal Services highlights just how difficult it can be for anyone, particularly our most vulnerable residents, to get the help they need.

The Supplemental Security Income application and renewal process is unnecessarily difficult for people coming out of jail and prison. Despite not being SSA’s official policy, many people who are incarcerated have their benefits suspended not just for the amount of time they’re incarcerated, but for the full month of any partial month during which they were incarcerated.

This means that someone who was incarcerated on the last day of the month and who was released on the first day of another month may lose SSI for the entirety of both those months.

If a person is incarcerated for more than a year, they’re automatically terminated from SSI, meaning that when they return home, they must start the application process all over again, even if their disabilities have not changed or have worsened during confinement.

To read the full article, click here.

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