Monday, December 19, 2011

SSI for Ex-Cons: This One Just Fell in My Lap

In my day (only) job as a librarian, I'm used to colleagues pulling my fat out of the fire, and am mighty grateful for it.  The other day, a gentleman came up to the reference desk asking for legal cites, some of which looked downright weird.  He could not say exactly where he had gotten these--they were all written in a lengthy, handwritten letter, but he was vague about where it came from.  So I decided to take the lazy shortcut now available through Google, and put in one of the cites: "Public Law 93.365.92.603." 

What came up in Google was this from Snopes, the urban legend debunker site, and a personal favorite. It was a posting by a librarian who was given a very similar email twice in one week, with a lot similar "information"--about how these laws could be shown to Social Security offices so that ex-offenders could get their immediate SSI payment, which they could get within 72 hours.  I have family members on SSI, and can testify that you can't get ANY check in that time frame. Then, the email instructs you to go to the "general welfare" office in your state, to get a check issued in two hours.  Again, I've had relatives on assistance, and one actually had to wait twice that long for her worker to meet with her, much less get a check.  And the "medical card" that should be able to "be used at any doctor's office?" Please.  That ain't happening. Ex-offenders have to apply for and use the medical services for the poor available in your area like anyone else.

They go on to list a whole bunch of other stuff that you should be able to charge up: car expenses, work tools, "casual clothes," Again, these are not "benefits."  There are some nonprofits that work to help with a used car or repairs, or with work clothing, etc.  But these are things provided--when they are--by a patchwork of community groups, WHEN they have money available. 

The part of the email closest to the truth involves tax credits available to employers who hire ex-offenders and other specific groups of hard-to-employ people.  Even so, this is not immediate help. 

What can ex-offenders do?  Largely, they have to use the same social services that everybody else does.  There are places around the country that try to put ex-offenders in touch with the right people, and who know the right agencies to tap.  Here's a whole roundup of what I have been able to find that can help ex-offenders, including getting help on expungement.

As the librarian in the posting points out, the legal references in this email are not true, or not valid, or just weird.  But apparently some version of this letter is still floating around 11 years after snopes knocked it down.  If you get it, don't believe it.


Anonymous said...

thank you. because I reall need some help. Still don't know what to do. People that tell the truth, is what's needed.

Linda Koss said...

If you need emergency help, here's a link to all the emergency help sources that I can think of:

But seriously, just try calling 211 on your phone. Many people live in an area where that will get you in touch with somebody that can tell you emergency help in your area.