In 2009, the financier was sent to jail after pleading guilty to more than 10 federal charges relating to a Ponzi scheme involving hundreds of his clients.
But lawyers for the New York-born financial adviser have filed court papers to say the 81-year-old has end-stage kidney disease and other “chronic, serious medical conditions”. including hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
“There’s no cure for my type of disease,” Madoff told the Washington Post in a phone interview, expressing remorse for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
After spending more than a decade behind bars, Madoff said his dying wish was to salvage his relationships with his grandchildren.
He said; “I’ve served 11 years already and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”
The US attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment. Prosecutors are expected to file a motion in response to the request in the coming days.
Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to 11 federal counts in a fraudulent investment scheme involving billions of dollars, admitting he swindled thousands of clients over decades. The rich and famous were among his victims, as well as people of lesser means who had invested with him unknowingly through feeder funds.
The new court filings say Madoff was admitted in July to the palliative care unit of the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.
“Madoff’s health has and will continue to deteriorate, and he will require more assistance physically and medically leading up to his death,” lawyer Brandon Sample wrote.
A so-called compassionate release would allow Madoff to “receive end-of-life care in the community, which would be more efficient, timely, and less burdensome” on the authorities wrote Mr Sample said.
The Bureau of Prisons denied Madoff’s request for release in December, according to court papers, saying it would “minimise the severity of his offence”. The agency lists Madoff’s release date as November 14 2139.
Additional reporting by Associated Press