Supplemental Security Income:

Noncitizens Have Been a Major Source of Caseload Growth

T-HEHS-96-88: Published: Feb 6, 1996. Publicly Released: Feb 6, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the rapid growth in the number of noncitizen receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. GAO noted that: (1) noncitizens are the fastest growing segment of SSI beneficiaries, with an average annual growth rate of 15 percent since 1986; (2) noncitizens represent about one-third of aged SSI recipients and about 5.5 percent of disabled SSI recipients; (3) the growth in SSI noncitizen recipients corresponds to the growth in immigration; (4) noncitizens are more likely to receive SSI benefits than citizens, since most only qualify for small Social Security benefits; (5) 51 percent of noncitizen SSI recipients come from 6 countries and most noncitizen SSI recipients live in California, Florida, and New York; (6) sponsors and adult children of aged immigrants often do not support immigrants even though they had pledged to do so; (7) poor SSI management practices, bilingual staff shortages, poorly documented medical histories, and limited monitoring and coordination allow some translators to help noncitizens fraudulently obtain SSI disability benefits; and (8) Congress, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and several states have taken steps to prevent or detect fraudulent SSI claims involving translators, but SSA needs a comprehensive strategy to combat such fraud.

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