TN 98 (02-06)

SI 00830.645 Refugee Cash Assistance, Cuban and Haitian Entrant Cash Assistance and Federally Reimbursed General Assistance Payments to Refugees


Sections 1612(a)(2) and 1612(b)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act Social Security Act;

Section 311 of the Refugee Act of 1980, 20 CFR 416.1124(c)(12); 45 CFR 400.45-400.69; 45 CFR 400.200-400.220; 45 CFR 401.2; 45 CFR 401.12

A. Background

Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) and Cuban and Haitian Entrant Cash Assistance (CHECA) are federally funded programs that make time-limited, needs-based payments to refugees upon entry to the United States. The payments are made by the State or local government essentially according to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) standards and rules, although there need not be a child involved.

B. Policy

1. RCA and CHECA Payments

RCA and CHECA payments are federally funded income based on need and, unless excluded under a PASS (SI 00870.001), are counted dollar for dollar as income under the Income Based on Need policy described in SI 00830.170. The $20 general income exclusion (SI 00810.420) does not apply to this income. (See SI 02005.025 for prospective accounting rules for RCA and CHECA.)

2. Payments as cash income

A payment under one of these programs is always considered to be a cash payment. The presumed maximum value rule (PMV) (SI 00835.300) cannot be applied to this income.

3. General Assistance

Until 1/1/90, General Assistance provided by the States to eligible individuals after the expiration of the initial period of RCA or CHECA eligibility was federally reimbursed and counted as Income Based on Need not subject to the $20 general income exclusion. Effective 1/1/90, General Assistance provided to individuals after expiration of their initial period of eligibility is no longer federally reimbursed and should be evaluated under the Assistance Based on Need policy described in SI 00830.175.

NOTE: Refer to the chart in SI 00830.645B.4 for a complete breakdown of the time period of Federal reimbursement for General Assistance.

4. Time-limited eligibility

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is responsible for the RCA and CHECA programs. ORR examines the time limits for eligibility each year and determines if fluctuations in funding necessitate that the eligibility period be changed. There is no specific time period for eligibility established by the pertinent ORR regulations, however, the 8 month time period of eligibility for RCA and CHECA became effective 10/1/91 and has remained at 8 months since that time. For periods prior to 10/1/91, the period of eligibility for RCA and CHECA is illustrated in the following chart.

Time PeriodPeriod of Eligibility for RCA/Cuban/Haitian AssistancePeriod of Federal Reimbursement for General Assistance

Prior to 3/31/81




First 36 Months

19-36th Month


First 18 Months

19-36th Month


First 18 Months

19-31st Month


First 18 Months