People of all national backgrounds can become disabled and unemployed. If a person is eligible for disability benefits, the United States government can help them make up for their lost income and pay for life's necessities.
The Social Security Administration's disability programs can even help non-citizens alike if they meet the requirements.
You may be able to get benefits under Supplemental Security Income if you:
- Were living lawfully in the United States on August 22, 1996 and are blind or disabled;
- Were receiving SSI on August 22, 1996 and are lawfully living in the United States;
- Were lawfully admitted for permanent residence and have a total of 40 work credits in the U.S.
If you came to the United States on or after August 22, 1996, then you may not be able to get SSI benefits for the first five years you are considered a lawfully admitted permanent resident.
However, you may be able to get SSI if you are:
- An active duty member of the U.S. military;
- A member of a federally recognized Indian tribe;
- Admitted as an Amerasian immigrant;
- A Cuban or Haitian entrant under the Refugee Education Assistance Act.
How do I Earn Work Credits and Prove My Immigration Status for Disability?
Work credits are a necessary part of a noncitizen's application for Supplemental Security Income. Typically, a person can only earn four credits per year based on the amount of money they earn. For noncitizens, however, the credits earned by spouses and parents also count toward the 40 credit minimum. You need to provide proof of your immigration status when applying for benefits.
If you served in the U.S. military, provide the SSA with discharge papers (DD Form 214). If you are a noncitizen, provide them with Form I-94 or I-551 from the Department of Homeland Security. Orders from an immigration judge withholding deportation or granting asylum are also acceptable.
What Are My SSI Benefits, and How Do I Apply for Them?
Under SSI, you may be able to receive a number of benefits. Additional benefits, such as Medicaid and Food Stamps, are available for noncitizen recipients of Supplemental Security Income. However, there is a time limit for benefits paid to noncitizens. In most cases, the Department of Homeland Security will pay benefits for the 7-year time period from when the person was classified as a noncitizen. If your benefits are ending, the SSA will contact you.