Although many federal VA benefits are affected by incarceration, justice-involved veterans may still be eligible for benefits, either at a full or reduced level. If benefits are terminated, they may be reinstated following your release.
Health Care for Reentry Veterans (HCRV) Program
This program offers outreach to veterans incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and referrals and short-term case management assistance upon release from prison.
HCRV services include:
Outreach and pre-release assessments services for Veterans in prison.
Referrals and linkages to medical, mental health and social services, including employment services on release.
Short-term case management assistance on release.
For more information: Federal VA: Re-entry Veterans Services
Incarcerated Veterans Benefits
VA benefits are affected if a beneficiary is convicted of a felony and imprisoned for more than 60 days. Disability compensation paid to an incarcerated veteran rated 20 percent or more disabled is limited to the 10 percent rate. Payments are not reduced for participants in work-release programs, residing in halfway houses or under community control.
Failure to notify the VA of a veteran’s incarceration can result in overpayment of benefits and the subsequent loss of all VA financial benefits until the overpayment is recovered. VA benefits will not be provided to any veteran or dependent wanted for an outstanding felony warrant.
The VA may be able to take a portion of the amount that an incarcerated veteran is not receiving and pay it to his or her dependents, if they can show need. When a veteran is released from prison, his or her compensation or pension benefits may be restored. Depending upon the type of disability, the VA may schedule a medical examination to see if the veteran’s disability has improved or worsened.
For more information: visit the Federal VA: Incarcerated Veterans webpage.
There is a growing effort nationally and in DC to institute veterans’ courts or dockets to allow district attorneys to send military members and veterans into treatment, rather than jail, when they commit a non-violent offense. These courts are staffed by people who take into consideration the charges and challenges facing veterans who return home from war. They may allow some military members to enter into mental health diversion programs as treatment for non-violent infractions as opposed to automatically jailing the off ender.
The law relies on the judgment of a prosecutor, who will determine on a case-by-case basis which defendants may be eligible for diversion. These prosecutors must consider, for example, whether a veteran who spent four years at a military base should be offered the same diversion opportunity as one who deployed twice to combat situations in Afghanistan or Iraq. Prosecutors must decide how serious the crime must be before diversion is taken off the table and must consider the victim of the offense.
For more information: contact the US Attorney’s office
The Mayor's Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA) mission is to provide zealous advocacy, high-quality services and products, up-to-date, useful information for the empowerment of previously incarcerated persons in order to create a productive and supportive environment where persons may thrive, prosper and contribute to the social, political and economic development of self, family, and community.