Guidance on "Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits" Under the Welfare Reform Law
TO: LOW INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (LIHEAP) GRANTEES AND OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES SUBJECT: Guidance on "Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits" Under the Welfare Reform Law RELATED Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act, Title XXVI
REFERENCES: of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, Public Law 97-35, as amended; the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), Public Law 104-193, signed into law on August 22, 1996; Federal Register notice dated August 26, 1997 (62 FR 45256) providing guidance on the definition of "Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits" under PRWORA for HHS programs.
PURPOSE: To advise LIHEAP grantees about decisions made on the definition of "Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits" under the 1996 welfare reform law for HHS programs.
CONTENT: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), P.L. 104-193, was signed into law by the President on August 22, 1996. PRWORA, popularly known as the welfare reform law, established the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program to replace the Assistance to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) program. PRWORA restricts the access of certain categories of immigrants to specified Federal benefits, including some benefits administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This information memorandum provides guidance on certain immigrant eligibility provisions of the PRWORA.
Section 403 of PRWORA bars most qualified aliens who enter the U.S. on or after enactment (August 22, 1996) from eligibility for "Federal means-tested public benefits" for five years beginning on the date the individual entered the United States with a qualified alien status. As defined in a Federal Register notice dated August 26, 1997 (62 FR 45256) and effective immediately, HHS is interpreting "Federal means-tested public benefits" to include only those benefits provided under Federal means-tested, mandatory spending programs. The following HHS programs meet this definition: Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant - the successor to the AFDC program. Therefore, no other HHS programs are "Federal means-tested public benefits" for purposes of PRWORA, and all qualified aliens, regardless of when they entered the U.S., continue to be eligible to receive assistance and services under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) if they meet other program requirements.
"Qualified aliens" are defined in section 431 of PRWORA and cover the larger groups of legal immigrants (legal permanent residents, refugees, asylees, individuals paroled into the U.S. for a period of at least 1 year, individuals whose deportation has been withheld, individuals granted conditional entry, and certain individuals who are victims of domestic abuse).
Guidance on other immigration-related issues is still under consideration. The immigrant provisions of the PRWORA are extremely complex and require careful analysis to determine the impact of the provisions on numerous programs and services. HHS is currently analyzing these provisions and will provide further information to you as these issues are resolved.
ATTACHMENTS: Federal Register notice dated August 26, 1997 (62 FR 45256) providing guidance on the definition of "Federal Means-Tested Public Benefits" under PRWORA for HHS programs.
INQUIRIES TO: If you need further clarification, please contact:
Janet M. Fox,
Director Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services, ACF,
HHS 370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447
Telephone: (202) 401-9351
FAX: (202) 401-5718
Janet M. Fox
Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services