As the prison population ages and older adults leave incarceration, advocates can play a critical role in improving the way we support older adults reentering our communities by connecting them to housing, health care, and economic security benefits. Due to systemic racism and discrimination, older adults reentering our communities are disproportionately older adults of color, especially Black men. The unique and significant disadvantages caused by structural racism in the criminal justice system and throughout their lives follow them outside of the prison walls, so older adults leaving incarceration are at risk of being unable to see a doctor, find housing, and meet their basic needs.
Justice in Aging is releasing a series of issue briefs to ensure advocates and service providers are aware of the unique challenges older adults reentering the community after incarceration face and to provide them with tools to connect their older adult clients to the safety net benefits they need. The second brief in the series, supported by AARP Public Policy Institute, describes Social Security policies on Connecting Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Benefits. SSI and Social Security are vital benefits that ensure the economic well-being of older adults and people with disabilities. Being able to access these benefits quickly helps older adults secure housing and pay for other basic needs.
The first brief in the series, Medicare Special Enrollment Period for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals: What Advocates Need to Know, provided advocates with information to connect their older adult clients with Medicare benefits, including those who are dually-eligible for Medicaid. Later in the year, we’ll release a resource on connecting older adults reentering the community to housing. The series will conclude with a webinar.