(CN) – Blind, aged and disabled residents of New York who are legal resident aliens are not entitled to the same level of Social Security benefits as their counterparts who are U.S. citizens, the New York Court of Appeals ruled.
The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 restricted the access of non-citizens to federal assistance programs. Aliens lose their federal and state benefits if they do not become U.S. citizens within seven years.
Boris Khrapunskiy filed a class action against the state for equal protection rights under the federal and state constitutions. The trial court ruled for the plaintiffs, but Judge Jones reversed the decision.
Jones noted that the state’s Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program was terminated in 1974 – when Supplemental Security Income was created – and was not replaced by another state program.
“The right to equal protection does not require the state to create a new public assistance program in order to guarantee equal outcomes under wholly separate and distinct public programs,” Jones wrote.
“Enactment of a new public assistance program requires legislative action,” the judge added.