Veterans in prison and parolees may be eligible for certain VA benefits and access to local and state resources. The benefits and resources provided here are not all-inclusive as others may be available. The VA can pay certain benefits to veterans who are incarcerated in a federal, state or local penal institution. However, the amount paid depends on the type of benefit and reason for incarceration. It is important to note that if the veteran is receiving either VA disability compensation or VA pension benefits, the veteran, or a family member, should contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000 immediately to notify them of the veteran's incarceration. Failure to notify VA of a veteran's incarceration could result in the loss of all financial benefits and result in the veteran owing the VA a substantial overpayment. The benefits most commonly affected by imprisonment are listed below:
VA Disability Compensation
The veteran's disability compensation monthly payment will be reduced beginning with the 61st day of your imprisonment for a felony. If their payment before they went to prison was greater than the 10 percent rate, their new payment amount will be at the 10 percent rate. If they were getting the 10 percent rate before they were imprisoned, their new payment will be half the 10 percent rate. Compensation benefits are not reduced if imprisoned for a misdemeanor.
VA Disability Pension
If the veteran is imprisoned in a Federal, state or local penal institution as the result of conviction of a felony or misdemeanor, their pension payment will be discontinued effective on the 61st day of imprisonment following conviction.
VA Medical Care While Imprisoned
Incarcerated veterans do not forfeit their eligibility for medical care. However, current regulations restrict the VA from providing hospital and outpatient care to an incarcerated veteran who is an inmate in an institution of another government agency, when that agency has a duty to give the care or services. The VA may provide care once the veteran has been unconditionally released from the penal institution. Veterans interested in applying for enrollment into the VA health care system should contact the nearest VA health care facility upon their release.
Receipt of VA Benefits by the Dependents of a Incarcerated Veteran
VA can take all or part of the benefits an incarcerated veteran was receiving and apportion it to the veteran's spouse, child or children, and dependent parents on the basis of individual need. Spouses, children and dependent parents should contact the nearest VA regional office by calling 800-827-1000 for details on how to apply or call the Tarrant County Veteran Service office at 817-531-5645 for assistance. You will be asked to provide income information as part of the application process.
Resuming VA Benefits after Incarceration
The veteran's award for compensation or pension benefits shall be resumed on the date of release from incarceration, if the Department of Veterans Affairs receives notice of release within one year following release. You are considered to have been released from incarceration if you are paroled or participating in a work release or halfway house program. Depending on the type of disability, VA may schedule you for a medical examination to see if your disability has improved. You will need to visit or call your local VA regional office at 1-800-827-1000 for assistance. For veterans in Tarrant County, contact the Tarrant County Veteran Service office at 817-531-5645 to get your benefits re-started.
The VA also has a Guidebook for Veterans Incarcerated in Texas
that provides information about housing, finding and keeping a job, VA healthcare, mental health services, alcohol and substance abuse treatment, financial assistance, legal assistance, and obtaining federal benefits to name a few. View the guide at A Guidebook for Veterans Incarcerated in Texas
. In addition, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans has a guide called "Planning for your Release"
. View their guide at Planning for your Release
Other Benefits and Resources for Incarcerated Veterans
VA's Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans Program
The Health Care for Re-Entry Veterans Program helps incarcerated veterans successfully rejoin the community through support, including those addressing mental health and substance-use problems. For more information, visit their website at Homeless Veterans
VA Veteran's Justice Outreach Program of North Texas
The purpose of the Veteran's Justice Outreach Program of North Texas is to avoid unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration among veterans by ensuring that eligible veterans, in contact with the criminal justice system, have access to VA mental health and substance abuse services, when clinically indicated, and other VA services and benefits as appropriate. Call a Justice Outreach Specialist at 214-857-2252, 214-857-2260 or 903-583-6241 for more information.
The Tarrant County Re-entry Program
The Tarrant County Re-entry Program has information on re-entry service providers, substance abuse treatment facilities, mental health resources, housing, employment, and healthcare just to name a few. Services for incarcerated veterans re-entering the local community can be found at Re-entry Program
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice Re-entry and Integration Division
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has established the Re-entry and Integration Division. This division's purpose is to better focus state resources to reduce recidivism and address the needs of juvenile and adult offenders. The Re-entry and Integration Division (RID) has a voluntary reentry program that is offered on multiple units within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This program assists offenders in preparing for a successful return to the community. Re-entry case managers conduct a pre-release assessment to determine an offender's pre- and post-release needs. Case managers develop a re-entry plan in cooperation with the offender, community providers and family support systems. This program is designed to address offender needs in nine areas that have been identified as keys to successful re-entry. Those nine areas are, obtaining identification documents, housing assistance, employment, education, health care, substance abuse assistance, transportation, clothing, food and amenities, financial resources and support systems.
They have also created a very informative guide for inmates preparing to return to society entitled "A New Start. A Re-entry Guide for Texas Key Information for Successful Reintegration"
.The guide can be viewed at Re-entry Guide for Texas
For more information, contact the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Re-entry and Integration Division at 936-437-4452 or visit their website at Re-entry and Integration Division
Catholic Charities' Veteran Services Program promotes housing stability among very low-income veterans and their families who are at risk of or are currently homeless. Veterans should call 877-414-8345 for eligibility requirements and to find out how to apply. You can get more information at their website at Catholic Charities, Fort Worth
Texas VFW Foundation
The Texas VFW Foundation administers a financial assistance fund to assist eligible veterans with basic life sustaining needs such as payment of mortgage/rent, phone, utilities, etc. Visit their website at Texas VFW
to get an application or call them at 512-291-6850.
Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans
Texas Lawyers for Texas Veteran provides free legal counsel and advice to veterans and the surviving spouses of deceased veterans, without regard to financial ability. After financial evaluation and qualifications, a veteran's legal matter requiring representation will be referred to a volunteer attorney in the field of law for the matter. They hold monthly meetings at the VA Fort Worth Outpatient Clinic, 2201 S. E. Loop 820. Directions are I-20 Campus exit, north service road in Fort Worth by appointment only. Call 817-546-4460 to schedule an appointment.
Texas Re-entry Services
Texas Re-entry Services offers a wide range of client services in order to better prepare ex-offenders for their reintroduction into society. Contact them at 817-834-2833. Their address is 3001 Race Street, Fort Worth, TX 76111.
Cornerstone Assistance Network
The Cornerstone Assistance Network provides on-going and long-term development for participants through mentoring, job readiness and educational programs, as well as transitional and permanent supportive housing programs. View their website at Cornerstone Assistance Network
or call them at 817-632-6000 for more information.
Texas Offenders Re-entry Initiative (TORI)
The mission of TORI is to guide and empower ex-offenders to maximize their potential and increase their opportunities for successful reintegration into society. Some of the services they provide are transitional housing and independent living assistance, education, family reunification, healthcare, spiritual guidance, and mentorship to name a few. Go to their website at www.medc-tori.org/
or contact them at 214-941-1325, ext 300, for more information.
Salvation Army Prison Rehabilitation Services
The Salvation Army plays a growing role in prison rehabilitation and crime prevention. Services include Bible correspondence courses, prerelease job-training programs, employment opportunities in cooperation with parole personnel, material aid and spiritual guidance to both prisoners and their families. Contact them at 817-531-2923 or 817-344-1805 for more information.
Social Security Benefits for Persons Formerly Incarcerated
Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are suspended when individuals are confined to jail or prison. For Social Security beneficiaries, benefits remain suspended until the inmate is released. For SSI beneficiaries, benefits are terminated when the individual is incarcerated for a year or more. Newly released inmates need funds to cover living expenses when they are released from prison. To help them make a successful transition back into the community, benefits need to be started as soon as possible. Contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to see how to restart benefits. You can also go to their website at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10504.html
for more information.
211 Texas (Finding Help in Texas)
211 Texas helps Texas residents connect with the services they need. They provide easy-to-find information from over 60,000 state and local health and human services programs. Veterans should dial 211 from any phone when seeking services after incarceration. After you call 211, select Option 1 for local resources and Option 2 for state resources. If you can't reach them by dialing 211, contact them at 877-541-7905. Their website is www.211texas.org/211/
Military Discharge Upgrade Assistance
Incarcerated veterans may have discharges that are Other Than Honorable. Veterans may submit a request to their respective military service requesting their discharge be upgraded or military record corrected. Veterans relocating back to the Tarrant County area should contact the Tarrant County Veteran Services office by calling 817-531-5645, or by writing to Tarrant County Veteran Services, 1200 Circle Drive, Suite 300, Fort Worth, TX 76119 to seek assistance with submitting a military discharge upgrade request.
The Department of Education
The Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education's has a guide called Take Charge of Your Future
that has a wealth of knowledge on educational resources for incarcerated individuals reintegrating into society. To see a copy of the guide, visit their web page at Take Charge of Your Future
Incarcerated veterans should also view the Tarrant County Veteran Services homepage that lists more benefits they may be eligible for. Visit our website at Tarrant County Veteran Services