The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to all people living and working in the United States, including those who don't have full citizenship. Eligibility for benefits doesn't depend solely on immigration status—it's based on whether a person has paid into the benefits system through his or her work history.
As long as an employee has earned enough work credits, he or she may qualify for benefits.
In some circumstances, a non-citizen’s children may qualify for Social Security as well.
Non-Citizens Who May Qualify for Supplemental Security Income
The SSA recognizes many different immigration categories when considering eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For example, you may be eligible for SSI if:
- You lawfully reside in the United States and received SSI on or before August 22,1996.
- You're blind or disabled, and have lawfully resided in the United States on or before August 22, 1996.
- You were admitted to permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and you have a total of 40 work credits or more.
- You entered the United States on or after August 22,1996, and it's been five or more years since you became a lawfully-admitted permanent resident.
- You're an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces.
- You're a member of a federally-recognized Indian tribe.
- You've been admitted as an Amerasian immigrant.
- You're a Cuban or Haitian citizen admitted under the Refugee Education Assistance Act.
- You're a former victim of human trafficking.
- You're in a class of special Iraqi or Afghan immigrants admitted as lawful permanent residents.
While some refugees and other non-citizens may be eligible for SSI, these payments may be limited. In many cases, SSI payments for immigrants can only be collected for up to seven years. This time limit can be extended and appealed, but continuation of benefits depends heavily on the specifics of your case.
If you're a non-citizen seeking public benefits, we can help. Call us today or fill out the form on this page to see if you’re eligible for Social Security disability and income payments.