Federal public benefits provide critical support to older immigrants. But for a subset of older immigrants who are affected by the “five-year bar,” this assistance is out of reach.

A new Justice in Aging Fact Sheet, The Five-Year Bar Prevents Older Immigrants from Accessing Programs that Help them Meet Basic Needs, outlines how a 1996 law, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), greatly restricted immigrants’ access to federal public benefits. The fact sheet describes how the resulting “five-year bar” makes older immigrants ineligible for SSI (Supplemental Security Income), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and Medicaid the first five years after attaining “qualified” immigration status. This harms older immigrants by preventing them from accessing health insurance or basic income supports.

Congress is considering a new bill to reverse this harmful rule. The LIFT the BAR Act would restore access to SSI, Medicaid, SNAP, and other vital programs for older immigrants and their families.

Read the Fact Sheet.

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