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Immigrants with Disabilities

Eligibility for Federal Benefit Programs

By Tanya Broder

The 1996 welfare reform law largely governs immigrants’ eligibility for public benefits. While the law is especially harsh for immigrants who have disabilities, it gives states discretion to offer benefits to certain categories of immigrants. The law created new categories of “qualified” and “not qualified” immigrants, but, due to the complexity of immigration statutes, “qualified” immigrants are ineligible for certain benefits while even “not qualified” immigrants are eligible for others.

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