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Social Security/Medicare

The Social Security Administration (SSA) of the U.S. Government oversees and administers many programs and benefits available for those who qualify.   These include Medicare, Supplemental Security, SS Disability, etc.  Here's an excellent source document called Reentry Mythbusters and Social Security Benefits from the National Reentry Resource Center which contains great guidance and other sources of reference.

Also, here are two very important sites from the Social Security Administration on ex-prisoners regarding access to, or reinstatement of social security benefits following incarceration, and Entering the Community After Incarceration, How We Can Help.

The best site to access for determining eligibility and steps for applying for one of the 17 benefit-type programs the SSA administers is through the main portal, or specifically at SSA Programs/Benefits where you can find all the links and information for the programs they oversee. is the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide. The site has information on topics such as applying for benefits, getting health care, finding a job, paying for housing, and protecting the legal rights of people with disabilities.

If you feel you have a physical or mental disability that is preventing you from being employed and supporting yourself and your family then refer to the Social Security Administration's Disability Benefits website that provides information and links on determining eligibility, getting questions answered, finding the nearest SSA office, or applying online.


Medicare is a health insurance program for people who meet the following requirements:

  • Are age 65 or older,
  • Receive Social Security Disability benefits, or
  • People with kidney failure may also qualify for Medicare.

For more information about Medicare, visit

SOAR Program

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are disability income benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that also provide Medicaid and/or Medicare health insurance to individuals who are eligible.

The SSI/SSDI application process is complicated and difficult to navigate, particularly for people who are homeless or who are returning to the community from institutions (jails, prisons, or hospitals).  For those who have a mental illness, substance use issues, or co-occurring disorders that impair cognition, the application process poses an even greater challenge.  

SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery (SOAR) is a national project funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that is designed to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder. Using a 3-pronged approach of Strategic Planning, Training, and Technical Assistance (TA), the SOAR TA Center coordinates this effort at the state and community level.