Retention Date: June 22, 2017
This EM provides prerelease planning procedures for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to follow regarding inmates’ applications for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits prior to release. It clarifies the responsibilities of the parties for prerelease planning of inmates’ application for benefits and provides guidance for the development of local procedures between SSA field offices and BOP correctional facilities. It ensures efficient prerelease application development and processing to provide to the released inmates access to Social Security or SSI benefits upon or soon after their release to the community.
On November 9, 2016, SSA and the BOP signed a national Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for prerelease planning assistance to BOP inmates. The process outlined in this MOU will allow inmates to apply for benefits before they are released (a prerelease claim), so that eligible inmates can begin receiving benefits soon after their release from BOP custody. This will ensure that inmates who are determined to be eligible for benefits have a source of income when they reenter the community. This is a key element in preventing homelessness and reducing recidivism.
C. Procedure- Processing Cases under the MOU
Follow instructions in the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) SI 00520.920 on processing prerelease cases, noting any qualifications or specific provisions in responsibilities as stated in section D. and E. below. In particular, note that:
|Intended Audience:||All RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs/TSCs/PSCs/OCO/ODAR|
|Originating Office:||ORDP OISP|
|Title:||Prerelease Planning Assistance to Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmates|
|Type:||EM - Emergency Messages|
|Program:||Title II (RSI); Title XVI (SSI)|
|Link To Reference:||See References at end of this EM.|
· for Social Security and SSI disability claims: accept prerelease claims 120 days prior to the inmate’s scheduled date of release from BOP custody or 120 days prior to the home confinement placement date.
D. Policy – SSA’s Responsibilities under the MOU
· for Social Security retirement and survivor’s claims, as well as SSI aged claims (age 65 or older): accept prerelease claims within 30 days prior to the inmate’s scheduled date of release from BOP custody or 30 days prior to the home confinement placement date.
1. Provide national guidelines for SSA field offices for processing prerelease claims for BOP inmates. Within the framework of the guidelines, SSA field offices will provide procedures for working with their local BOP facilities to develop additional local procedures that may be necessary to achieve the desired results by all parties.
2. Appoint a national SSA liaison to serve as the point of contact for BOP headquarters staff. SSA will appoint one point of contact at each local SSA office that services each BOP correctional institution or BOP-contracted facility to assist with inquiries and claims. The SSA office that services a BOP facility will be responsible for processing prerelease claims for inmates in that BOP facility.
3. Notify the BOP points of contact of changes in SSA servicing office points of contact.
4. Receive and process an inmate’s signed consent form (Form SSA-3288 – Social Security Consent for Release of Information), which is required prior to release of information to BOP staff involved with processing the inmate’s prerelease claim. Form SSA-3288, modified with language specific to this agreement, is in section F. below.
5. Provide BOP with information about eligibility requirements for Social Security and SSI benefits for BOP to share with inmates.
6. Provide the BOP with all necessary application forms (including the Authorization to Disclose Information forms (SSA-827)) and instructions (to include a checklist of the necessary forms for inmate use) for distribution to inmates who wish to apply for Social Security or SSI and provide updates to forms and instructions as changes occur. SSA intends to process the applications using existing methods as permitted.
7. Mail the completed Authorization to Disclose Information form (SSA-827) directly to the POC at the facility that maintains the inmate’s medical records.
8. Accept prerelease claims using the following timeframes:
· For Social Security and SSI disability claims: accept prerelease claims 120 days prior to the inmate’s scheduled date of release from BOP custody or 120 days prior to the home confinement placement date.
· For Social Security retirement and survivor’s claims, as well as SSI aged claims (age 65 or older): accept prerelease claims within 30 days prior to the inmate’s scheduled date of release from BOP custody or 30 days prior to the home confinement placement date.
9. Follow existing SSA procedures when the BOP facility releases an inmate who has filed a prerelease claim and leaves the service area of the local SSA office. The local SSA office will transfer the prerelease claim to the SSA office that services the inmate’s new address. In so doing, the local SSA office will follow existing SSA procedures for the electronic transfer of claims.
For prerelease claims originating prior to a transfer of an inmate from BOP facility in one location to a BOP-contracted facility or home confinement in another location, SSA will transfer the prerelease claim to the new local servicing SSA field office.
E. Policy – BOP Responsibilities under the MOU
SSA acknowledges that some BOP inmates affected by this MOU are housed in residential reentry centers (RRCs). Such inmates are thus in facilities operated by contractors, and not in institutions operated by the BOP. Such RRC contractors are not parties to this MOU, and this MOU will not be incorporated via modification to such RRC-BOP contracts. As such, the BOP cannot require RRC contractors to perform any specific actions to facilitate such inmate access.
10. Ensure that the SSA servicing office review prerelease procedures with the local BOP facility on an as-needed basis and whenever there is a change in policy or procedure that necessitates review.
11. Make reasonable efforts to process prerelease claims in a timely manner to facilitate inmates’ continuity of care.
12. Notify the inmate of the Social Security or SSI eligibility determination.
1. Provide guidelines to BOP facilities in order to maintain consistent procedures nationwide. BOP facilities will be provided the procedures for working with their local SSA field office to develop additional local procedures that may be necessary to achieve the desired results by all parties.
2. Appoint a national BOP liaison to serve as the point of contact for SSA headquarters staff. Appoint one point of contact at each BOP correctional facility to assist its local servicing SSA office with inquiries and concerns regarding prerelease claims. Appoint one point of contact at each BOP correctional facility for SSA to send the SSA-827 for obtaining medical records.
3. Notify SSA servicing office points of contact of changes in BOP points of contact.
4. Provide inmates access to eligibility information to use to determine potential eligibility for Social Security Benefits and SSI.
5. Provide inmates with the necessary SSA forms and contact information for the local servicing SSA office that will process the inmates’ prerelease claims.
6. Permit the inmate to contact SSA field office staff to apply for benefits and to discuss other matters necessary for the processing of the inmate's prerelease claim(s), using existing methods as permitted. In no circumstances will BOP staff - in any formal or informal capacity - perform any responsibilities or duties of the SSA such as formally reviewing an inmate's application to ensure compliance with SSA requirements or making any SSI eligibility determinations.
7. Inform inmates that for SSA to disclose information to the BOP, the form SSA-3288 must have the information contained in the exhibit in section F. below.
8. Inform inmates of the need for the inclusion of a signed medical release (form SSA-827 - Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration) and medical history form (form SSA-3368 - Adult Disability Report) with the application when the inmates file for disability benefits under Social Security or SSI.
9. Provide all requested medical evidence upon receipt of the SSA-827 consistent with SSA guidelines and recommendations of the Disability Determination Services.
10. Inform inmates filing a prerelease claim to notify the local SSA field office if there is a change in their release date.
11. Track all prerelease claim referrals and respond to any local servicing office inquiries.
12. Provide the released inmate with documents to verify the inmate’s formal release and date from custody (e.g., Release and Gratuity form, Notice of Release and Arrival).
13. Advise inmates that they must contact the servicing SSA field office when the inmate leaves the BOP facility and provide their new address and phone number (e.g., home, BOP contracted facility, different correctional institution).
F. Exhibit – Modified Form SSA-3288 (Consent for Release of Information)
SI 00520.900: Prerelease Pro
14. Not discourage RRC contractors or RRC contractor staff members from facilitating inmate access to SSA field offices for inmates in their facilities who wish to apply for benefits or have already begun the application process as per this MOU.