TN 34 (03-12)
SI 00520.910 Prerelease Agreements with Institutions
A. Introduction to prerelease agreements
A prerelease agreement is a written or verbal agreement between a public institution and SSA, to cooperate in the processing of Title II and Title XVI applications and reinstatements. While a written agreement is not a prerequisite for using the prerelease procedure, it is a highly desirable, non-binding means of ensuring understanding by all parties and facilitating the newly released individual’s integration back into a community.
B. Process for prerelease agreements
The following information describes the prerelease agreements process.
1. Parties to a prerelease agreement
The parties to a prerelease agreement are SSA and the institution (or the agency that administers more than one institution). A field office (FO) or a regional office (RO) can establish a prerelease agreement. The agreement can be for one facility or for multiple facilities (e.g., for all the facilities in a State or a county).
FOs should use the model prerelease agreement in SI 00520.930, Exhibit 2, as a model for their agreements. ROs also should use the model agreement in SI 00520.930, but also may consult previous statewide prerelease agreements when developing a new prerelease agreement for a State prison system.
2. Formal or informal prerelease agreements
An agreement may be formal (a written agreement signed by both parties), or informal (an unsigned written agreement or a verbal agreement).
The FO can have an informal prerelease agreement for a single claim. If the FO receives an inquiry from an institution to initiate a claim for an institutionalized person, the FO can use the prerelease procedure if the institution agrees to give SSA access to the institutionalized person, and provide information necessary to process the claim. An informal one-time agreement could lead to a more comprehensive prerelease agreement between the FO and the institution.
3. Responsibilities of the institution in prerelease agreements
The institution agrees to:
provide the FO with a contact person (e.g., social worker or reentry coordinator) at the institution who will communicate with the FO’s prerelease contact person to efficiently coordinate release of the individual who is leaving the institution;
identify individuals released within 30 days after they establish potential eligibility. (REMINDER: The processing time of the servicing disability determination service (DDS) is critical to this referral. For example, if the DDS average processing time is about 90 days, the institution should refer a disability claim to the FO about 90 days before the scheduled release date);
refer to SSA individuals who appear to meet the supplemental security income (SSI) or Title II eligibility requirements;
provide nonmedical information necessary for development of potential SSI eligibility;
provide current medical evidence for the blind or disabled claimant consistent with the guidelines in SI 00520.920B. and the local DDS procedures. This should include a statement of the claimant's ability to handle funds;
provide the FO with the scheduled release date;
report any subsequent changes to the scheduled release date, including a change that could result in release over 30 days, after notice of an approved claim; and
notify the FO as soon as they release the claimant and provide the claimant’s new address.
4. SSA's responsibilities in prerelease agreements
SSA, as represented by the FO or RO, agrees to:
provide guidelines for the information requested from the institution (SI 00520.930, Exhibit 2);
help institutional and social services staff learn how to use the prerelease procedure;
provide a FO contact person to assist the institution in applying prerelease procedures;
process claims and reinstatements timely in the FO;
identify prerelease cases for the DDS to ensure prompt handling; and
with the individual’s authorization, notify the institution of the claim determination promptly.
5. DDS participation in prerelease agreements
DDS participation in the prerelease agreement process is very important. The DDS, working with FOs and the institution, may be able to facilitate the process for obtaining medical evidence and provide feedback to improve the process of getting medical evidence.
6. Regional Office (RO) review of prerelease agreements
ROs will review the use of the prerelease program annually (e.g., conduct surveys of the FOs for status of the prerelease programs in their areas), and take appropriate action to ensure that all staff are aware of the procedure and that it is fully utilized.
C. Procedure for establishing prerelease agreements
FOs must take the following steps to establish prerelease agreements with public institutions in their service area.
Identify all public institutions within the service area with a potential prerelease population including (but not limited to):
institutions for persons with mental disabilities;
residences for persons with mental retardation;
residences for persons with physical disabilities;
medical treatment facilities;
halfway houses (For information about halfway houses, see GN 02607.200C. and SI 00520.009B).
Attempt to establish a prerelease agreement if one never existed, or if a previous agreement fell into disuse. Make a personal contact with institution staff to explain the benefits of the prerelease procedure. If the FO and the institution cannot work out an agreement, the FO should check periodically to see if the institution is interested.
Consult with the RO regarding DDS participation. The RO may have worked with the DDS on prerelease agreements for other FOs.
Consult with the DDS about its participation on prerelease claims. The FO can provide the DDS with information about the prerelease procedure by using SI 00520.930, Exhibit 1 and SI 00520.900 through SI 00520.930. The DDS may already have procedures for processing prerelease claims due to prerelease agreements with other FOs in the State.
Attempt to obtain a formal agreement with the institution, using the model agreement at SI 00520.930, Exhibit 2. The FO can modify the model agreement to meet the needs of the institution.
If the institution refuses to complete a formal agreement, attempt to establish an informal agreement based on the elements in SI 00520.910B.3. and SI 00520.910B.4. in this section.
Review with the institution staff the information that SSA needs to determine an individual's potential SSI eligibility including age or disability, and the income and resource limits.
Establish guidelines for the date the institution refers the case to the FO. This date depends on the average DDS processing time and the expected date of release. The goal is to allow enough time for the DDS to complete a disability determination that is within 30 days of the scheduled release date.
Designate the institution and FO liaisons who will handle referrals, applications, follow-up activities, and staff training.
Establish the detailed steps for filing and processing the prerelease claim (e.g., will the interview be by telephone or in person, will the institution staff, the claimant, or the FO complete the claims forms).
D. Procedure for maintaining prerelease agreements
The FO or RO must take the following actions to maintain existing prerelease agreements.
Review and renew prerelease agreements when there is a change in circumstances to ensure they operate effectively.
Review FO and DDS experiences to determine if improvements are necessary.
Ensure that the institution still refers prerelease cases.
Contact the institution’s staff to discuss problems and to determine if they are satisfied with how the prerelease procedure is working.
Provide refresher training, as needed for FO and institution staff.