What is Public Charge
What is Public Charge?
How is It determined If Public Charge or Not:
Determined by the ‘totality of the circumstances test’. Adjudicating officer must weigh both the positive and negative factors when determining the likelihood that someone might become a public charge. This includes your age, health, income, assets, resources, education/skills, family you must support, and family who will support you. Positive factors, like having a job or health insurance, can be weighed against negative factors, like having used certain benefits or having a chronic illness. Either way, you will have a chance to show why you are not likely to rely on certain benefits in the future. The officer may also consider any affidavit of support filed on behalf of the individual.
What Benefits lead to Public Charge Determination:
Mainly, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Social Security Act
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance (Note: Non-cash benefits under TANF such as subsidized childcare or transit subsidies cannot be considered and non-recurrent cash payments for crisis situations cannot be considered for evidence of public charge)
- State and local cash assistance programs that provide benefits for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance” programs)
- Programs (including Medicaid) supporting individuals who are institutionalized for long-term care (e.g., in a nursing home or mental health institution). (Note: costs of incarceration for prison are not considered for public charge determinations)
This is not an exhaustive list of the types of cash benefits that could lead to a determination that a person is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, and thus, a public charge. Receipt of any such cash benefits not listed above will continue to be assessed under the “totality of the circumstances” analysis described above.
What Benefits lead Are NOT Public Charge benefits
Non-cash benefits (other than institutionalization for long-term care) are generally not taken into account for purposes of a public charge determination. Special-purpose cash assistance is also generally not taken into account for purposes of public charge determination. Non-cash or special purpose cash benefits that are not considered for public charge purposes include:
- Medicaid and other health insurance and health services (including public assistance for immunizations and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases; use of health clinics, short-term rehabilitation services, and emergency medical services) other than support for long-term institutional care
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Nutrition programs, including Food Stamps, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and other supplementary and emergency food assistance programs
- Housing benefits
- Childcare services
- Energy assistance, such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Emergency disaster relief
- Foster care and adoption assistance
- Educational assistance (such as attending public school), including benefits under the Head Start Act and aid for elementary, secondary, or higher education
- Job training programs
- In-kind, community-based programs, services, or assistance (such as soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter)
State and local programs that are similar to the federal programs listed above are also generally not considered for public charge purposes.