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Issue Alert - 02-09-03

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Oct 01, 2002

Issue Summary:

Certain disabled immigrants may now be eligible for FAP

Persons Affected:

Immigrants who receive disability benefits and who entered the United States after August 22, 1996


Food Assistance Program (FAP – formerly Food Stamps)

What's Happening?

Effective 10/01/02, disabled legal immigrants are eligible to receive FAP regardless of the date they entered the United States. Previously, only disabled immigrants who were in the U.S. on August 22, 1996 could receive Food Stamps. “Disabled” means the person either receives a disability benefit (SSI, RSDI, disability-related Medicaid, or Railroad benefits based on disability or blindness) or is a disabled veteran or a surviving child or spouse of a veteran and is considered disabled by the VA. See PEM 225.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advocates should educate clients who will be affected by this policy change and encourage them to apply for benefits. Additional immigrant restorations will occur in April and October 2003, so advocates should begin reaching out to all of the legal immigrant families they work with who are in need of assistance. In April 2003, all immigrants who have been in the U.S. legally for at least 5 years continuously will become eligible. In October 2003, all legal immigrant children will become eligible for Food Stamps, regardless of the date they entered the U.S. Advocates should make sure their immigrant clients know that Food Assistance is not considered a “public charge” by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and that persons who do not want benefits for themselves are not required to provide FIA with their Social Security number. Visit the “Pamphlets” page of in October to download updated pamphlets that describe the new immigrant restorations in FAP.

What Should Clients Do?

All immigrants who receive disability benefits and are in need of assistance should apply for FAP. Even if they reside with undocumented immigrants or other immigrants who cannot receive FAP, the disabled household member(s) can still receive FAP. Household members who are not allowed to receive FAP do not have to provide a Social Security number and will be considered “disqualified” household members.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan Legal Assistance Network website ( or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738