Tag: public charge rules and social security

How the New Public Charge Rules Affect Your Social Security

How the New Public Charge Rules Affect Your Social Security

Public charge rules and social security
Some are concerned about the interactions between public charge rules and social security. Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with the scoop.

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced changes to its public charge rules that could affect many people seeking entry into the United States. Some may worry that their social security benefits could be affected when the new changes take place. Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here to set the record straight.

The Public Charge Changes

On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced changes to its public charge rules. Generally speaking, the changes allow broader discretionary power to adjudicators evaluating foreign nationals’ entries, and the changes create stricter standards that must be met. The changes have also extended public charge rules to non-immigrants. These changes take effect on October 15, 2019 to all future reviews, as well as to all reviews that are pending on the effective date. Here is a rundown of those changes:

Benefits Covered

When a foreign national is deemed a “public charge,” it means that they will likely become too dependent on government resources, and are therefore ineligible for entry into the United States. The recent changes have adjusted which benefits are examined when determining whether someone is likely to become a public charge. If the applicant has received any of these following benefits for an aggregate period of 12 months out of a 36-month period, they will be rendered ineligible for entry. The benefits that are evaluated are the following:

  • Benefits from federal, state, local, or tribal sources for the purposes of income maintenance and upkeep. This includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) resources
  • Some federal housing benefits. This includes Section 8 Housing Assistance or Project-based Rental Assistance
  • Most forms of Medicaid 

Benefits Not Covered

The benefits that are not factored into public charge evaluation include the following:

  • Federal or state-granted retirement benefits. This includes social security retirement benefits.
  • Social Security Disability benefits. This includes Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
  • Benefits an individual earns through payroll and other tax deductions, e.g. unemployment benefits
  • Affordable Care Act health insurance tax credits
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid benefits if they’re being received by 1) persons under 21, or 2) pregnant women, or 3) women up to 60 days after their final day of pregnancy, or 4) people with emergency medical conditions
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits
  • Primary and secondary student services originating from schools, e.g. school lunches
  • Disaster relief resources
  • Job and career training programs
  • Child care resources and services

NOTE: Benefits received by a child, spouse, or some other beneficiary would not count against the principal applicant. This remains true unless the principal applicant is also listed as a beneficiary. Furthermore, some covered benefits received by members of the armed forces or their families and by children gaining citizenship status according to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 would not be counted against the principal applicant.

Adjustments of Status

When an applicant applies for an adjustment of status, not only must they prove that they haven’t received any covered benefits for 12 months out of a 36-month period, but they must also prove they are self-sufficient. Therefore, they must submit a declaration of self-sufficiency along with concrete evidence supporting their claim.

In addition to this, an immigration officer now has broad authority to consider the following factors in determining whether the applicant will become a public charge anytime in the near future:

  • Age—applicants who are younger than 18 years of age or who are older than the minimum retirement age (which is usually 62) must explain in depth why their age will not hinder them from working
  • Health—applicants must have no health issues that would interfere with their ability to attend school, work, or care for themselves properly
  • Family size—adjudicators will examine the total household size, including dependents and those who aid more than 50% of their support to the applicant
  • Education—applicants must have sufficient education to be able to avoid becoming a public charge. Such educational criteria might include English speaking skills, high school diplomas or GEDs, university degrees, and other licenses or certificates.
  • Skills—applicants must have sufficient skills and knowledge in order to hold a job that will sustain them. Such skills may include whether they are a caregiver in their household. Additionally, factors such as employment history may be considered.
  • Financial situation—the applicant’s household must have an income sufficient enough to avoid becoming a public charge. This is, at minimum, 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG).

If an applicant is found to likely be a public charge, they could post a bond of $8,100 minimum to elude the grounds of inadmissibility.


Non-immigrants are a new category of individuals affected by these public charge changes. Foreign nationals who apply for an extension or change of immigrant status must show they have not received any covered benefits for 12 months out of the 36-month period that occurred after they obtained the immigration status they are seeking to extend or change. However, whether they are likely to become a public charge is not considered when evaluating the extension/change of status.


Certain foreign nationals do not have to worry about these public charge rules. The people excluded from such criteria are the following:

  • United States citizens
  • The majority of lawful permanent residents
  • Some adoptees
  • Other foreign nationals deemed exempt, including asylees, refugees, human trafficking victims, victims of domestic violence or certain other crimes, and Special Immigrant Juvenilles

Should You Worry about Your Benefits?

The short answer is no. While these rules affect certain foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States, your social security benefits should remain unaffected. Even the benefits of such foreign nationals will most likely remain untouched; the only thing to keep in mind is that some social security benefits could negatively impact a foreign national’s chances of having their application accepted.

Even then, social security disability benefits simply don’t disappear. There are strict rules and guidelines governing social security benefits. These rules are independent and separate from public charge rules governing the admission/change of status of immigrants and foreign nationals.

So put your worries aside. The change in public charge rules most likely won’t affect you or your social security. If you do have any questions, however, feel free to contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA for a free consultation.

Have Questions about the Public Charge Rules and Social Security Benefits?

If you have any questions or concerns about the public charge rules and social security, contact SSDA USA today. Our attorneys are standing by and ready to address all your social security queries. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200. You can also reach us online via our LiveChat feature or through a contact form. Don’t keep your questions to yourself; get in touch with SSDA USA today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.