Presentation on theme: "Government Benefits for Non-Citizens March 2014 Laura Melnick SMRLS 651-894-6932"— Presentation transcript:
Government Benefits for Non-Citizens March 2014 Laura Melnick SMRLS
Government Benefits for Non-Citizens 1. Welfare reform 2. Definitions: a. qualified non-citizen b. unqualified non-citizen c. battered immigrant 3. Sponsor-deeming 4. “SAVE” 5. Reporting to USCIS 6. Public charge considerations 7. 5-year bar 8. Federal cash & food benefits: a. SSI b. SNAP (food stamps)
9. State & federal/state cash & food benefits a. cash & food: TANF – families (i)FSS (Family Stabilization Services) (ii)DWP (Diversionary Work) (iii)MFIP (MN Family Investment Program) (iv) WB (Work Participation Cash Benefits) b. cash: GA (General Assistance) c. cash: MSA (Minnesota Supplemental Assistance) d. emergency cash: EA (Emergency Assistance), and EGA (Emergency GA) e. non-need-based cash: UI (Unemployment Insurance) f. food MFAP (MN Food Assistance Program)
g.health care (i) MA (Medical Assistance) (ii) EMA (Emergency MA) (iii) MinnesotaCare 10. other benefits 11. considerations for mixed-status households 12. scenarios
1. Welfare reform enacted August 22, 1996 replaced AFDC (family cash program) with “TANF” block grants to states imposed lifetime limits on, and work requirements for, family cash assistance eliminated SSI & food stamp eligibility for many non- citizens (“Restricting Welfare and Public Benefits for Aliens” provision) required certain agencies to file reports with INS (now USCIS)
Post-1996 federal law changes (all helpful) IIRIRA - I LLEGAL I MMIGRATION R EFORM & I MMIGRANT R ESPONSIBILITY A CT OF 1996 amended definition of “Qualified Alien” to include battered non-citizen. (BUT – clarified that SSDI & retirement benefits not paid to anyone not “lawfully present” in US) BBA - B ALANCED B UDGET A CT OF 1997 broadened eligibility for SSI based on disability; extended SSI window for refugees, asylees to 7 years (from 5) treated Amerasian immigrants as refugees; broadened “qualified” definition to include certain Indians born in Canada; & added surviving spouses to US vet exception.
1998 A GRICULTURAL R ESEARCH A CT restored food stamp eligibility to some groups of immigrants (those receiving disability benefits, ≥ 65, < 18, Hmong/Laotian); also extended food stamp window for refugees, asylees to 7 years (from 5). F ARM B ILL OF 2002 significantly broadened eligibility for food stamps for non-citizens beginning 2003 (allowed all “qualified” non-citizens to get food stamps 5 years after arrival; eliminated 5-year wait for certain groups). SSI E XTENSION FOR E LDERLY AND D ISABLED R EFUGEES A CT OF 2008 allowed certain humanitarian immigrants additional 2- 3 years of SSI past their “window.”
2. Definitions for eligibility for FEDERAL benefits: a. “QUALIFIED” NON-CITIZEN = lawfully admitted for permanent residence under Immigration & Nationality Act (INA) “refugee,” including Haitian, Cuban, & Amerasian granted asylum or parol granted conditional entry before 4/1/80 deportation withheld or removal cancelled granted T-Visa “battered immigrant”
b. “UNQUALIFIED” NON-CITIZEN expired or no documentation pending application for adjustment, asylum, suspension of deportation, or cancellation of removal lawful temporary resident under amnesty program non-immigrant (temporary protected status, or student, visitor, or temporary worker visa) U-visa recipient Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) grantee
c. “BATTERED IMMIGRANT” can qualify for range of federal & state-funded benefits but must wait 5 years for SNAP, MA: o must have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty in U.S. by U.S. citizen or LPR parent, spouse, or relative in same household, AND o must no longer live with abuser, AND o need for benefits must be “substantially connected” to abuse, AND
applicant must either: be spouse or child of U.S. citizen AND have petitioned for adjustment of status under Violence against Women Act (VAWA); OR be spouse or child of U.S. citizen OR LPR AND have petitioned for cancellation of removal under INA.
3. Sponsor-deeming attribution of income from sponsor to immigrant can make immigrants COMPLETELY INELIGIBLE (financially) for almost all types of public assistance! Requirement stems from 1996 welfare reform law. Began December 19, 1997 with implementation of “Affidavit of Support” form (I-864). I-864 = legally binding contract between sponsor & immigrant, & between sponsor & government Applies only to family-based immigrants & immigrants who come to US to work in family-owned business).
Deeming does NOT apply to: refugees, asylees, parolees diversity visa (visa lottery) recipients Cuban/Haitian entrants people granted Temporary Protected Status children < 18 (for SNAP & MA only) pregnant women (MA & MinnesotaCare only)
How deeming works 100% of income & assets of sponsor AND sponsor’s spouse considered fully available to immigrant. (Less harsh deeming for SNAP). Sponsor’s family size & fixed debts irrelevant. Burden of proving sponsor has little income on immigrant applying for public assistance. Income & assets deemed until: immigrant becomes U.S. citizen, works 10 years, or dies; OR sponsor dies. Divorce from sponsor has no effect on deeming.
o Whether deeming affects people other than sponsored immigrant varies by type of assistance program. o For most programs (including MA, GA, SSI, SNAP), income & assets deemed only to sponsored immigrant. o For MinnesotaCare & for MFIP & other family cash programs, income deemed to all members of “assistance unit.”
2 exceptions to deeming: a. Indigence exception: Sponsor-deeming will NOT apply if welfare agency determines that immigrant is without food & shelter as result of sponsor’s failure to support. 12-month renewals available. Government can sue sponsor for reimbursement. (Immigrant can sue sponsor, too, for non-support).
b. Battered spouse/child exception Deeming will NOT apply if immigrant or child battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by spouse or parent, or by relative of spouse or parent in same household. Immigrant can’t have participated in abuse of child. Immigrant must show that battery or cruelty is substantially connected to need for benefits. Exception ends after 12 months, UNLESS battery perpetrated by sponsor AND recognized in court order (OFP, etc.) OR USCIS determination. Government can sue for reimbursement; immigrant can sue for non-support.
Deeming applies to: cash programs: SSI, MSA, GA, MFIP, EA food programs: SNAP for adults; MFAP health care programs: MA, MinnesotaCare Deeming does NOT apply to: o EMA (Emergency Medical Assistance) o MA & MinnesotaCare for pregnant women & children o SNAP for children o Basic Sliding Fee child care o SSDI o UI
Special 3-year deeming for MFIP 3-year deeming in state law for MFIP only. Less harsh & of shorter duration than I-864 deeming. Applies only to those who came to U.S. through means other than relative petition (such as diversity visa). Does not affect refugees or asylees. Takes into account sponsor’s family size & support obligations.
4. “SAVE” Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements o Inter-agency governmental information-sharing program o Used to verify immigration status for public assistance & public housing o NOT used for reporting immigration status (or lack thereof) to Immigration
5. Reporting to Immigration requirement stems from 1996 welfare reform & IIRIRA laws WHO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT? Only: …………………………………………… agencies receiving “TANF” funds (in MN, that means county agencies administering MFIP & DWP benefits) Social Security Administration public housing agencies contracting with HUD
WHAT MUST BE REPORTED? names, addresses, & other “identifying information” ON anyone worker “knows” is unlawfully in U.S.
Reporting in Minnesota protocols require that agencies: report to MDHS rather than to Immigration not verify status if not relevant to benefit being sought stop inquiring about status when applicants express unwillingness/inability to verify interpret “knowledge” very narrowly comply strictly with data privacy laws
6. “Public charge” Receiving/having dependents receive certain benefits may affect ability to adjust to LPR status. Benefits to be considered are: cash benefits: MFIP, DWP, SSI, MSA, GA long-term medical care (nursing home care) Benefits not considered include health care, WIC, housing & energy assistance, & benefits not intended for income maintenance. Receipt of SNAP or state-funded food support not factor for public charge determinations.
7. “5-year bar” 5-year “bar” (waiting period) prevents some immigrants from receiving certain federal benefits during first 5 years in “qualified” status. Benefits potentially affected = SSI, SNAP, MA, & TANF (federally-funded MFIP & DWP). During 5-year wait period, immigrants may receive state-funded benefits if eligible for them (& such benefits exist).
BENEFITS! 8. Federal cash & food benefits: a. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Social Security administers 2 types of disability benefits: SSI, for low-income, low-asset individuals. Recipients must be too disabled to work or ≥ 65. SSDI, for people too disabled to work who meet earnings requirements by having paid into system via FICA wage deductions.
To qualify for SSI, non-citizen applicants must: meet definition of “qualified” non-citizens under federal law; AND meet certain residency requirements.
SSI residency issues: A. Immigrants lawfully residing in U.S. before welfare reform (8/22/96) if on SSI on 8/22/96, can keep getting SSI as long as elderly or disabled. if not on SSI on 8/26/96, can get SSI now if: “qualified” AND disabled. Cannot get SSI based on age (≥ 65).
B. Immigrants arriving after welfare reform (coming to U.S. or adjusting to LPR status after 8/22/96) If “unqualified,” can’t get SSI. Even if “qualified,” probably can’t get SSI. 3 exceptions:
Exceptions to SSI ineligibility for those attaining “qualified” status after 8/22/96: 1) refugees, asylees, & those granted withholding: 7 year window of eligibility (from date of grant of status). 2) U.S. veterans, active-duty members of U.S. armed forces, & spouses or minor children of vets & active duty members: no time limits, not subject to 5-year bar. Hmong soldiers who fought with the CIA in Vietnam War not considered “U.S. veterans.” 3) workers (or those credited with ≥ 40 work quarters): no time limits, but 5-year bar applies.
Note about work exception: o Only work where FICA taxes deducted from pay counts toward 40-quarter requirement. o Quarters attributable from spouse to spouse & from parent to minor child. Minor children can carry parents’ quarters into adulthood. o Any quarters worked after 12/31/96 in which household received federal “need-based” benefits (AFDC, MFIP, SNAP, SSI, MA) do not count.
Sponsor-deeming & Social Security o Because SSI is need-based, sponsor- deeming may preclude eligibility. o Because SSDI is not need-based, sponsor-deeming does not apply.
b. SNAP Except when sponsor-deeming applies, all “qualified” non-citizens potentially eligible for SNAP. Applicants may have to wait 5 years to get SNAP benefits (due to 5-year bar).
Groups that don’t have to wait 5 years to get SNAP: refugees, asylees, & those granted withholding of deportation U.S. veterans & active-duty members of U.S. armed forces (& spouses & unmarried dependents) elderly immigrants who, as of 8/22/96, were “lawfully residing” AND ≥ 65 disabled (certified by State or SSA) < 18 Hmong or Highland Lao
9. State (& federal/state) cash & food benefits “steps” toward citizenship Most recipients of state-funded assistance must take “steps” toward obtaining citizenship. Don’t have to take steps if: legally residing in U.S. < 4 years ≥ 70 OR living in nursing home, group home, or similar facility.
“Steps” toward citizenship “steps” = o taking citizenship, literacy, or ESL class o being on wait list for ESL or literacy class o having application for citizenship on file o applying for waiver of citizenship test requirements o failing citizenship test ≥ 2 times or being unable to understand rights & responsibilities of citizenship.
“Lawfully residing people” Some non-citizens not eligible for federal benefits may get state-funded benefits: Lawful Temporary Residents people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) applicants for asylum or withholding who have employment authorization Spouses/children of U.S. citizens with approved visa petition or pending application for adjustment to LPR others permitted to stay in US for humanitarian or public policy reasons, including those with Deferred Enforced Departure [DED], deferred action, voluntary departure
Victims of Trafficking: T Visas o Victims of trafficking who have “T” visas eligible for both federal AND state-funded benefits to extent that refugees eligible. o To qualify, T visa holders must get certification from Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Crime Victims: U Visas U Visa is “non-immigrant” visa. Recipients not eligible for federally-funded benefits. U Visa holders not eligible for state-funded cash benefits. U Visa holders are eligible for MinnesotaCare. U Visa holders are eligible for state-funded food benefits (MFAP) if categorically eligible (i.e., ≥ 50).
DACA recipients o Those granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) not considered “lawfully residing” for MA (according to HHS). o DACA recipients should qualify for MinnesotaCare but don’t, according to MDHS. o DACA recipients are potentially eligible for EMA. o Probably not eligible for cash or food assistance.
a.cash & food: family cash benefits (i) FSS – Family Support Services (ii) DWP – Diversionary Work Program (iii) MFIP – MN Family Investment Program (iv) WB – Work Participation Cash Benefits MFIP, DWP, FSS & WB = family cash assistance programs that have replaced AFDC. Some are funded with federal TANF $$; some are state-funded. Those ineligible for federally-funded benefits can get state-funded MFIP& DWP. They provide cash (& sometimes cash AND food) assistance to families with minor children. Cash grants for MFIP, DWP & FSS very low: $437 for household of 2, $532 for 3, $621 for 4, $697 for 5, etc.
FSS, DWP, MFIP & WB Most non-citizens here lawfully & permanently eligible if categorically eligible, whether “qualified” or “unqualified” under federal law. Certain non-citizens eligible only for state-funded benefits. (Eligibility depends on date of arrival in U.S. & immigration category). If getting state-funded benefits, must take “steps” toward citizenship. Newly-arrived (here < 1 year) exempt from DWP. (They get FSS 1st year here). Sponsor-deeming may preclude eligibility.
MFIP & DWP work plans & ESL Most MFIP recipients have to work, unless exempted. o Counties may allow non-English speakers to include ESL in job search & work plans IF spoken language proficiency level low enough on standardized testing. o MFIP recipients may fulfill only half of work participation requirements through ESL, unless taking intensive functional work literacy. o MFIP & DWP recipients may include ESL in work plans for total of only 24 months (out of 60).
b. cash: General Assistance (GA) GA = state-funded program for low-income, low-asset individuals not living with minor children. GA also for minor children whose adult caregivers don’t qualify for MFIP due to relationship status. GA pays $203 per month for individual & $260 for married couple.
Immigrants residing lawfully & permanently in U.S. (or with pending application for adjustment) may get GA if meet other eligibility criteria. If < 70 & here ≤ 4 years, must take steps toward citizenship. Sponsor-deeming may preclude eligibility.
c. Cash: Minnesota Supplemental Assistance (MSA) MSA = state supplement for recipients of SSI (or those who would receive SSI but for excess income). Average MSA supplement = $81. Purpose generally to ameliorate high housing costs. Strict immigration requirements. If ineligible for SSI because of immigration status, ineligible for MSA. SSI recipients living in “shared households” usually ineligible for MSA. Non-citizens must take “steps” toward citizenship, & sponsor-deeming may prevent eligibility.
d. cash: EA & EGA Emergency Assistance (EA) & Emergency GA (EGA) designed to prevent destitution, providing cash grants to resolve crises. Both EA & EGA funded through block grants from State, so individual counties have great deal of discretion in determining eligibility & administering. Lawfully- & permanently-residing residents eligible for EA & EGA to same extent (& subject to same limitations) as U.S. citizens. Sponsor-deeming may preclude eligibility, but applicants may qualify for indigence exception.
e. non-need-based cash: Unemployment Insurance (UI) UI benefits can be paid if worker was: lawfully admitted for permanent residence at time of employment; lawfully present for purposes of employment; OR permanently residing in U.S. under color of law at time of employment. Work done before attaining legal status does not count toward earnings requirements. UI benefits not need-based; therefore not subject to sponsor-deeming.
f. Food MFAP – Minnesota Food Assistance Program created especially to provide food assistance to non-citizens ineligible for Food Stamps (now SNAP) as result of welfare reform Lawfully- & permanently-present non-citizens not on MFIP, in U.S. < 5 years, who may not be eligible for SNAP because of 5-year bar, may get MFAP. Benefits available only to those ≥ 50. MFAP follows federal SNAP laws & regulations. Recipients may be subject to sponsor-deeming.
g. health care (i) Medical Assistance (MA) MA available to immigrants who are: low-income & low-asset; “qualified” under federal law; AND categorically eligible, meaning they’re: pregnant living with minor children or in MFIP household <21 ≥ 65 certified disabled by State or SSA; OR ≥ 21, without kids, & living ≤ 133% FPG Sponsor-deeming may preclude eligibility.
In 2011, Minnesota legislature eliminated state- funded MA statutorily, effective 1/1/12, for non- citizens lawfully residing in the U.S. who were not eligible for federally-funded assistance. Implementation of change took place 3/1/12.
No longer eligible for MA, since end of state-funded program, are: o people considered “otherwise lawfully residing” who don’t meet definition of “qualified” under federal law; AND o LPRs during 5-year bar. o All should qualify for MinnesotaCare, except those receiving Medicare. NOTE: Pregnant women & children remain eligible for MA (funded by CHIP, Children’s Health Insurance Program). No 5-year bar for pregnant women & children.
Special eligibility for torture survivors Those receiving “care and rehabilitation” services from Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) qualify for special state-funded MA & do NOT have to meet MA guidelines in terms of: o categorical eligibility; o income & asset restrictions; OR o immigration requirements.
(ii) Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA) Basic safety net health care program. Can provide health care services to “medically needy” people who are undocumented, have lapsed documentation, or otherwise would be ineligible due to sponsor-deeming. Has never covered organ transplants or “related procedures.”
EMA is available only to those categorically eligible for MA (i.e., living in household with minor children, pregnant, ≥ 65, certified disabled, < 21, or ≥ 21 and living ≤ 133% FPG).
EMA is for “Emergency Medical Services”: required for medical conditions manifested by acute symptoms of such severity that absence of immediate medical attention reasonably could be expected to result in: o Placement of patient’s health in serious jeopardy; o Serious impairment to bodily functions; OR o Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.
Since 1/8/12, EMA no longer covers chronic conditions: o MN legislature eliminated EMA eligibility for those with chronic conditions. o Exceptions made for those who would have respiratory or cardiac failure within 48 hours but for treatment. o In 2012, legislature began allowing EMA for kidney dialysis & cancer treatment. o Current law limits EMA to care delivered in hospital emergency rooms or ambulances; on in-patient basis following ER care; & as follow-up care directly related to ER treatment.
Medical coverage for pregnant women Pregnant women qualify without regard to immigration status or sponsor income for: labor & delivery AND pre- & post-natal care for 60 days after birth Funded by CHIP.
(iii) MinnesotaCare Need-based program with higher income allowances than MA. Available to those ineligible for MA because of categorical or income restrictions or 5-year bar. Available to those who meet income guidelines AND who: are “qualified” non-citizens AND since 3/1/12, meet definition of “lawfully present” under federal regulations, AND beginning 1/1/14, are non-immigrants. U Visa recipients should qualify. Sponsor-deeming may preclude eligibility.
DACA & MinnesotaCare While MinnesotaCare eligibility definition includes those granted Deferred Action status, DACA recipients may not be eligible for MinnesotaCare. According to Minnesota DHS health care chart, DACA recipients (aside from pregnant women) are potentially eligible only for EMA. mmigration_Status_and_Minnesota_Insurance_Affordabili ty_Program_Eligibility.pdf
10. Other benefits Some benefits available without regard to immigration status include: WIC (Women, Infants & Children) benefits school breakfast & lunch benefits benefits through Head Start K-12 free public education public health immunizations, & testing for & treatment of communicable diseases soup kitchens, short-term shelter, etc. child care assistance for U.S. citizen children
11. Considerations for mixed-status households To avoid getting reported to Immigration, people without proper documentation should be advised to: Tell agency they are not eligible for benefits for themselves due to immigration status. Tell agency they are applying only for eligible household member. Not provide details about their status to agency. Not provide Social Security number (unless necessary for income verification). Verify earned income, from whatever source. Verify pregnancy if seeking health coverage.
A. Battered immigrants: Natasha o Natasha, 36, came to US without papers. She left U.S. citizen husband after he assaulted her with baseball bat, causing traumatic brain injury. o Friend letting Natasha stay in condo, stocked with food. o Natasha filed VAWA petition & received notice last month she’d made prima facie case for VAWA relief. o Natasha’s main concern is medical coverage. Cognitive functioning significantly impaired due to injury, & needs home health care to remain out of nursing home. o MA covers home health care; MinnesotaCare doesn’t. o Natasha has no work history. She can’t work & would like cash aid.
A. Natasha quiz Natasha: 1.is not yet eligible for any cash or health care because she is undocumented. 2.is eligible for GA & MinnesotaCare only. 3.is eligible for SSI & MA since she is now “qualified” non-citizen under federal law.
B. Sponsor-Deeming: Ralph & Mai Lia o Mai Lia came to US with minor daughter, Bee (now 8), 6 years ago, via relative petition signed by Mai Lia’s mom. Mom lives in California with stepdad, who earns $200,000 a year. o Last year, Mai Lia married widower Ralph, US citizen & MFIP recipient with 6 kids. Mai Lia’s mom stopped talking to her after marriage. Ralph added wife to MFIP grant, then added couple’s new baby, Jethro, 2 months ago (he gets only food portion & MA). o County just notified Ralph it erred by not counting Mai Lia’s deemed income. Whole household ineligible for MFIP. MFIP benefits terminated, household assessed huge overpayment. o Ralph & Mai Lia just served with eviction notice from landlord. o COUNTY SAYS: Ralph & all 8 kids remain eligible for MA. Kids can get SNAP. No one else is eligible for anything.
B. Ralph & Mai Lia quiz Mai Lia should: 1.Appeal MFIP termination & overpayment. County erred in terminating household from MFIP and assessing overpayment. U.S. citizen members of household (i.e., 8 out of 10) remain eligible. 2.Appeal imposition of sponsor-deeming, as Ralph & all his children are U.S. citizens, & Jethro is citizen AND was born after date I-864 was signed. 3.Reapply for MFIP & SNAP & start working on citizenship application.
C. Reporting and Public Charge: Tamara & Mustafa o Tamara, U.S. citizen, is unemployed & married to Mustafa, whose student visa expired. He hopes to adjust to LPR sometime in future. o Mustafa works part-time (not enough) using SSN he obtained on black market. Neither spouse qualifies for UI. o Couple has 2 minor children born in U.S. Household needs food, medical & cash. o Tamara worries that applying for benefits will: impel County to report Mustafa’s lapsed status to Immigration; get him in legal trouble for using false SSN; & detrimentally affect his chances of adjusting.
C. Tamara & Mustafa quiz Tamara should: 1.apply only for medical & food benefits & report Mustafa’s wages to County as part of application process. 2.Apply only for medical & food benefits, but not report Mustafa’s wages to County as part of application process. 3.Not apply for any benefits. 4.Apply for all benefits. She has nothing to fear; she’s merely being worry-wart.
D. SSI: Tang o Tang, 52, is from Laos. She came to U.S. as refugee little >7 years ago. o Tang speaks no English. She suffered trauma in her youth & can’t work. She likes to keep to herself. She started getting SSI & MSA three years ago due to PTSD. o Because she had $802 in monthly income, Tang could afford own apartment. o Recently, Tang’s SSI & MSA terminated because she is not U.S. citizen. Tang applied for GA but doesn’t know how she’ll pay rent. County says she can’t get GA until she signs up for ESL, literacy, or citizenship classes. o Tang wants SSI benefits back.
D. Tang quiz Tang should: 1. ask Social Security to reinstate SSI benefits; as Hmong refugee, she is not subject to 7-year limitation. 2. file new application for SSI since she hasn’t used up her 7 years of benefits yet. 3. apply for subsidized housing & enroll in citizenship classes. 4. appeal County’s termination of her MSA benefits, as MSA is state-funded program & has no 7-year limit. 5. move to North Dakota, as she’ll automatically get SSI there.