Impact of New Public Charge Rule on Seniors and Disabled Individuals

In August, the Department of Homeland Security issued the final version of its revised “Public Charge” regulation. This rule is scheduled to go into effect in October, although legal challenges are expected.

If implemented, the rule could have devastating effects on individuals with disabilities and seniors who are immigrants, as well as those who rely on caregivers who are immigrants.


For decades, the federal government has considered whether an immigrant is likely to become a “public charge” in deciding his or her application for a VISA to come to the United States or to become a lawful permanent resident (i.e., a green card holder). However, the new rule makes a number of major changes to this policy in order to broaden its impact, and specifically targets low-income and disabled immigrants.

What’s New

First, it changes the definition of “public charge” from someone who is “primarily dependent” on federal cash benefits (or receives Medicaid long-term-care institutional