How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits If You’re a Non-Citizen

Author: Guest Blogger

Even though that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a U.S. government run program, you might be surprised to know that even if you are a refugee, you could still qualify for Social Security benefits. The SSA gives out monthly benefits for people who cannot work due to a disability.

The two programs in which the SSA gives out benefits are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you are a refugee or non-citizen and you were awarded SSDI or SSI, you can spend that money on medical bills, prescriptions, or basis day-to-day needs.

Non-citizens can qualify in the following ways:

How to Qualify for SSDI Benefits

 SSDI benefits are monthly payouts made out to those who can no longer work full time because of a disability. Common conditions in which SSDI benefits are awarded are forms cancer, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, or musculoskeletal disorders like spinal cord injuries.

The most important thing about qualifying for SSDI benefits is that you need to have a specific number of work credits. Work credits are calculated by your age and how many years you’ve worked. You must also have paid taxes into the Social Security payroll from your job.

Non-citizens can qualify for SSDI if:

  • You have a non-immigrant B-1, D-1, or D-2 visa
  • You have a Social Security number assigned to you on or after January 1st, 2004.

How to Qualify for SSI Benefits

 Qualifying for SSI benefits is little bit more complex. It’s by no means impossible, it’s just not as straightforward qualifying for SSDI benefits. SSI benefits are monthly payments made out to those with very low income and have a disability. Common conditions in which SSI benefits are awarded are diseases caused at birth, or any sort of mental condition such as autism or depression.

There are very strict financial requirements for SSI, you cannot have more than $2,000 in your savings account or earn more than $750/month in 2018. You must also be deemed disabled by the SSA. For non-citizens, you must meet the financial and disabling condition requirements listed above and you must fall under at least at least one of the following seven categories for “qualified aliens.” The qualifications of qualified aliens are as followed:

  • You’re Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR)
  • You’ve been granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • You’ve been paroled into the US under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA, and you’ve been in the US for at least one year
  • You’re a refugee admitted to the US under Section 207 of the INA
  • You’ve been granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA
  • Your deportation is being withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA
  • You’re a “Cuban and Haitian entrant” as described in Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980.

How to Start Your Application

Thankfully, the actual application process for SSDI and SSI benefits is a lot more straightforward for non-citizens compared to the qualifying and eligibility requirements. You can apply at your own convenience online, but that is only if you are applying for SSDI benefits.

You can schedule an appointment at your local SSA office and fill out your application there as well. If you have any further questions regarding qualifying or eligibility, you can call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213.


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