An estimated 500 disabled people each year in Florida’s Broward County lose their Social Security or other federal disability benefits when they go to jail. After being incarcerated says the Miami Herald, many fail to reapply to have benefits reinstated. Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein is asking Sheriff Al Lamberti to set up a process so that inmates will get the help they need to reapply for their benefits before their release.
”The situation created by delays in reinstatement leads to a deterioration of medical and psychiatric conditions, homelessness and rearrests,” he says. “All of this is needless and inhumane.” Sheriff’s spokesman Elliot Cohen said the agency tried unsuccessfully to set up such an agreement with Social Security in 2003. Cohen said the sheriff often does not even know if someone’s benefits are suspended until after the person is already released.