CAPI and Immigration Status

Changes to federal law made in the 1990s mean that some legal immigrants can no longer get SSI benefits. California set up CAPI to help legal immigrants who:

  • Are 65 or older, blind, or have a disability
  • Have limited income and resources to pay for basic needs, and
  • Can't get SSI because of their immigration status (and for no other reason)

When you enter the country, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services gives you an immigration status. CAPI is for immigrants classified either as Qualified Aliens or as Permanently Residing Under Color of Law (PRUCOL). The SSI rules changed August 22, 1996, so that date is important in figuring out if you can get CAPI benefits.

If you entered the United States before August 22, 1996, you may be eligible for CAPI if you are:

  • A Qualified Alien who is 65 or older, who lawfully resided in the United States on August 21, 1996
  • A Qualified Alien who is a victim of battery or abuse, or
  • PRUCOL and 65 or older, blind, or have a disability

If you entered the United States on or after August 22, 1996, your sponsorship matters, and CAPI may use a process called deeming to count your sponsor's income and resources when deciding if you can get benefits. You may be eligible for CAPI if you are:

  • A Qualified Alien who is 65 or older, blind, or has a disability and whose sponsor (or sponsor’s spouse) is dead, disabled, or abusive
  • A Qualified Alien victim of battery or abuse, or
  • PRUCOL and 65 or older, blind, or have a disability, and either don’t have a sponsor, or your sponsor isn’t dead, disabled or abusive