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Medicare Special Enrollment Period for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals: What Advocates Need to Know

As the overall population ages, the prison and jail population is aging too. And, as older adults leaving incarceration reenter our communities, they need support to connect them to health care benefits and other essential programs. 

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. This issue brief, Medicare Special Enrollment Period for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals: What Advocates Need to Know is the first in the series, supported by AARP Public Policy Institute, on topics related to reentry. The brief provides advocates with information to connect their older adult clients with Medicare benefits, including those who are dually-eligible for Medicaid. 

Justice in Aging launched its reentry program under its Strategic Initiative to Advance Equity in Aging. 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.

The second issue brief in the series will discuss the reinstatement policies for Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Social Security and will be released in early fall. Later in the year, we’ll release a resource on connecting older adults reentering the community to housing, and we’ll wrap up the series with a webinar. Stay tuned! 

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