Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Assistance for Indigent, Elderly and Disabled Refugees, Asylees, and Other Humanitarian Immigrants
For over a decade, HIAS has spearheaded a campaign to restore Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to thousands of elderly and disabled refugees, asylees, and some humanitarian immigrants who lost their benefits because they were not able to become U.S. citizens within seven years.
On October 1, 2008, the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act (HR 2608) was signed into law, allowing refugees and asylees to qualify for up to three additional years of SSI benefits. This was a huge victory which helped over 14,000 vulnerable people. However, this extension was only temporary - as the expiration deadline of September 30, 2010 approaches, approximately 3800 refugees face losing their benefits.
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and other organizations are seeking ways to help refugees who are making a good-faith effort to become citizens or who will never be able to naturalize to retain their SSI benefits.
One-Year Supplemental Security Income Extension Passes the Senate - On October 17th, the Senate passed Senator Schumer's "SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act of 2011" (S.1721). S. 1721 would extend elderly and disabled refugees' eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from seven years to nine years during 2012. The benefits would be funded by a $30 fee on petitions for Diversity Visas filed during the next year. On September 30th, the third year of a 2008 extension of SSI benefits expired, limiting refugees to seven years of SSI benefits and leaving many without a critical lifeline for financial support. Without the extension, up to 5,600 disabled and elderly refugees will lose benefits. Read more.
Supplemental Security Income Extension Set to Expire - On September 30th, the third year of the 2008 extension of SSI benefits for elderly and disabled humanitarian migrants--which was available to those who could show they were in the process of naturalizing--expires. This means that refugees again will be limited to seven years of SSI benefits, leaving many withouta critical lifeline of financial support. Senators Schumer (D-NY), Gillibrand (D-NY), Leahy (D-VT), and Franken (D-MN) have introduced an emergency one year extension in the Senate, S. 1618, and Reps. McDermott (D-WA) and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have introduced in the House legislation (H.R. 2763) that would provide an additional two years of SSI eligibility for humanitarian migrants. Read more about this issue on the Editorials page of the Jewish Daily Forward.
HIAS Lauds Introduction of SSI Extension Bill for Elderly and Disabled Refugees - Last week, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced H.R. 2763, which calls for an extension of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from seven to nine years for elderly and disabled refugees and certain humanitarian migrants. If passed, this bill would continue current law that is set to expire on September 30, 2011, at which point eligibility for SSI reverts to seven years. Without passage of this crucial legislation, thousands of refugees will lose their SSI benefits on October 1st and could face serious hardship. Read more.
- HIAS SSI Extension Backgrounder - August 2010
- HIAS SSI Extension Q&A (Russian Column) - August 2010
- HIAS SSI Extension Talking Points - August 2010
- NILC SSI Extension Summary - July 2010
- SSI Advocates Produce Frequently Asked Question Guide to SSI Extension - October 1, 2008
- SSA Issues Emergency Memo and New Operating Manual about SSI Extension for Field Offices - September 2008
- SSI Extension Act of 2008 - January 3, 2008
- Written Testimony of Maria Teverovsky Submitted to the Senate Special Committee on Aging for Hearing on “The Health and Welfare Needs of Elderly Refugees and in the United States” - December 5, 2007
- HIAS: 400 National, State, Local Organizations Urge Congress to Extend Benefits to Vulnerable Refugees - July 2, 2007
- Written Comments by Gideon Aronoff Submitted to the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, Committee on Ways and Means, for Hearing on "Assistance for Elderly and Disabled Refugees” - March 22, 2007
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - "Loss of SSI Aid is Impoverishing Thousands of Refugees: Congress Could Prevent Further Hardship." By Zoe Neuberger - February 8, 2007