Citizenship and Alien Status for State Cash Programs

Revised June 15, 2012


This section provides information on how an alien’s immigration status affects their eligibility for the State Family Assistance (SFA), Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) cash, and Pregnant Women Assistance (PWA) programs. The purpose of SFA is to provide assistance to immigrants and others who are ineligible to receive TANF benefits because of the restrictions imposed under federal welfare reform. ABD provides assistance to disabled or aged individuals, including those who are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to immigrant or other restrictions. Chemical dependency services are broadly available to legal immigrants.

WAC 388-424-0015 Immigrant eligibility restrictions for the State Family Assistance, ABD cash, PWA, and ADATSA programs.

Clarifying Information - WAC 388-424-0015

  1.  ABD and PWA are broadly accessible to immigrants as long as they meet all other program requirements. Non-immigrants and undocumented aliens, as defined in WAC 388-424-0001, are not eligible for ABD or PWA.
  2. Becoming a citizen (naturalizing) is not a program requirement for any state or federal benefit. Generally, a client is not eligible to naturalize until 5 years after they have attained legal status, but there are some exceptions. Refugee resettlement agencies and Community Based Organizations (CBO) provide naturalization assistance to those immigrants receiving state or federal benefits so that they can become citizens. For more information, see the Social Services Manual SSI Facilitation Chapter,  for non-U.S. citizens. Immigrants who don’t become citizens and lose SSI due to expiration of seven years of refugee status (which also affects asylees, victims of trafficking, Cuban Haitian entrants, Amerasians, and those granted withholding of removal) will be provided ABD or TANF, Basic Food, and medical assistance, assuming they are otherwise eligible.

Worker Responsibilities - WAC 388-424-0015

  1. Related WACs:
    1. See WAC 388-450-0116  for treatment of the income of household members who are ineligible to receive SFA due to their alien status.
    2. See WAC 388-450-0160 and WAC 388-470-0060  for treatment of income and resources of a sponsored alien’s sponsor.
  2. When a client reports a change in their status, update their alien status on the ALAS screen in ACES. It is particularly important to record changes in status for recipients of state-funded cash or medical programs, as these aliens may become eligible for federal programs as a result of this change in status.