Temporary Extension of SSI Benefits for Some Noncitizens

Two-Year SSI Extension for Elderly And Disabled Refugees

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act (P.L. 110-328) became law on September 30, 2008. The seven-year SSI eligibility period for refugees, asylees, and certain other humanitarian immigrants (including victims of human trafficking) was extended an additional two years for certain individuals during the period of October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011.

If all SSI eligibility requirements are met, the two-year extension may apply retroactively to noncitizens whose SSI previously ceased due to the expiration of the seven-year period, but not earlier than October 1, 2008 even if all eligibility factors are met before that date.

To qualify, eligible noncitizens are required to sign a declaration indicating that they made a good faith effort to pursue U.S. citizenship, unless they are under age 18.

The law also exempts certain noncitizens from the time-limited SSI eligibility period (during the three-year window of October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011) if they have naturalization applications pending, or if they have been approved and they are awaiting the citizenship swearing-in ceremony, as verified by the U. S. Citizen and Immigration Service (USCIS). This exemption also applies to individuals with applications pending who were previously rendered ineligible due to expiration of the seven-year period.

The benefit extension is effective from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011. After this date, noncitizen eligibility reverts to seven years.

Which Noncitizens Are Eligible for the Two-Year Extension?

  • Noncitizens who have been lawful permanent residents for less than six years, and status has not been abandoned, as verified by the U. S. Citizen and Immigration Service; or
  • Noncitizens who have applied to become lawful permanent residents within four years from the date they began to receive SSI and such application is still pending, as verified by the Department of Homeland Security; or
  • Cuban and Haitian entrants, as defined in section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980; or
  • Noncitizens who have had their deportation withheld by the Secretary of Homeland Security under section 243(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (as in effect on December 31, 1996) or whose removal is withheld under section 241(b)(3) of such Act; or
  • Noncitizens who are younger than age 18, or age 70 or older.

Kaplan vs. Chertoff Settlement Applies To Some Noncitizens

Individuals who qualify for the extension may also be eligible for new provisions provided by the Kaplan settlement.

If you have a pending application for naturalization (Form N-400) or adjustment of status (Form I-485), you (or your representative) may request expedited processing from USCIS. Be sure to tell them that you receive SSI. You may apply for a waiver of the application fee by contacting USCIS. If you are eligible for naturalization or adjustment of status but have not filed an application with USCIS, we encourage you to do so.

If you have difficulty getting your immigration case expedited, you may contact Community Legal Services, Inc. of Philadelphia at 1-800-889-4369.

Where To Find More Information

To request expedited processing of your application for naturalization or adjustment of status or to request a fee waiver, call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800 767-1833). Otherwise, contact your local USCIS office in person or in writing.  If you have not yet filed an application for naturalization or adjustment of status, and you are eligible for SSI benefits, you may apply for a fee waiver when you file the application.  To learn more about fee waivers, visit the website at www.uscis.gov/feewaiver.  To learn more about how to become a U.S. citizen, visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov/citizenship and www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization.  To learn more about applying for adjustment of status and becoming a lawful permanent resident, visit www.uscis.gov/greencard

To learn more about SSI benefits for noncitizens, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), visit your local Social Security office, or visit us online at www.socialsecurity.gov.