Benefits Access Project Helps Those With Disabilities

There are many individuals in our community who are disabled due to severe mental illness. Many of these individuals receive disability income from SSI or SSDI – but many do not. The very disability that qualifies them for these benefits prevents them from following through with the complicated and bureaucratic process of applying for services.

A number of agencies in the community have staff that can assist a client with this process. However, clients often don’t return for follow up appointments, or they start applications through more than one agency.

MHAP has received a grant from the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of this process. With this grant, MHAP has formed a collaborative of agencies called the Benefits Access Project (BAP). These agencies will use a shared database to track the process of client applications, reconnect clients with Case Managers at other agencies, and prevent duplicate applications that slow down the approval process. In addition, the Case Managers at each agency will be trained to submit more effective applications.

The goal of the grant is to increase the number of qualified disabled clients who are receiving SSI/SSDI/Medicaid benefits by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.

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Criminal Justice Mental Health Data Linkage Initiative

In response to the tremendous growth of the inmate population in Hamilton County over the past decade, and the increase in arrest of adults with severe mental illness, the Hamilton County Criminal Justice (CJ) and Mental Health Systems (MH) have identified several problems related to the custody of mentally ill offenders, recidivism, co-occurring disorders, overuse of institutional resources, and ineffective information use.

In its continuing role as a collaborator as the front door for persons to access services through the Hamilton County Mental Health Services and Recovery Board (HCMHSRB), Mental Health Access Point (MHAP) has developed a shared electronic data infrastructure linking Hamilton County Jail to local Mental Health Case Management Agencies informing them daily of the detaining of their clients. The Criminal Justice – Mental health Data Linkage Electronic Program has been in place since December ’08.

Through effective collaboration from Pre-Trial Services, case managers are able to visit their clients at the Hamilton County Jail, provide assistance in the development of a plan for possible early release, diversion prior to sentencing, confirm medication regimen with the MH Unit, and assist their clients with court appearances, schedules, dispositions, and release, working alongside various divisions of the Justice Center (Public Defense Attorney, Mentally Disabled Offender Probation Unit, Court Services Municipal and Common Pleas, the Mental Health Unit, and Sheriff’s Records).

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