Public Benefits

Many people have questions about their legal status and in regards to immigration and availability of public benefits. I am going to talk about some of the main public benefits and their requirements.

In regards to Medicaid, which is the medical insurance program for low income individuals, one only has to provide the legal status of the person who is applying for benefits. For example, if you are applying for Medicaid benefits for your child, you only have to list the legal status of your child. The same requirements apply to the medical insurance program SCHIP (a medical insurance program for children in South Carolina).

There is also emergency Medicaid. This insurance is for sudden and strong symptoms, including giving birth. An emergency is when you should go see a doctor or nurse because your health is in danger, your bodily functions could be damaged, or a part of your body has been damaged. If you have this type of emergency, you could qualify for Emergency Medicaid and not have to provide proof of legal status. People in your home who are citizens or legal immigrants can apply for food stamps. Even if you are not a legal immigrant, you can apply for your citizen or legal immigrant child. You will have to provide information about your income and your assets and certify that the application is only for your child. If you do not provide this information regarding your income and assets, the agency can deny your application.

Immigrants also have the right to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from the IRS at the same time that they file their tax return. The IRS does not report the information that it receives to USCIS and this number allows the immigrant to file income tax returns and receive refunds. However, people who file their returns with an ITIN are not eligible for all of the credits and deductions. If you think that South Carolina Legal Services could help, call our intake line at 1-888-346-5592 to see if we can assist you.