A Legal Council Guide

« Back to Home

Can You Receive Disability Benefits If You Are Not An American Citizen?

Posted on

Social Security disability benefits are not only for American citizens. In some instances, permanent residents and other foreign workers can receive benefits. If you are not an American citizen, here is what you need to know to obtain benefits. 

Can Permanent Residents Receive Benefits?

Permanent residents are viewed similar to American citizens when it comes to determining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. If you have met the work credit requirements and you have a disability that prevents you from working, you can apply for benefits. The Social Security Administration, or SSA, will review your application and make a determination of whether or not you are eligible. 

The work credit requirements simply mean that you have worked long enough to qualify for benefits. The amount of credits you are awarded is based on your yearly earnings. You can receive up to four work credits during one year. 

The number of credits that is needed to qualify for assistance changes yearly. The SSA can provide you with the number you need to be eligible. How many credits you will need to be considered for assistance is also based on your age. 

Are There Some Residents Who Are Exempt?

Residents from certain countries cannot receive assistance from SSA even if they meet the work credit and disability requirement. As of May 2015, if you are from Vietnam or North Korea you are ineligible. 

There is a possibility that your eligibility could change, so check with the SSA before filing. The United States has several agreements with countries such as Canada and Germany which allow for providing assistance to foreign workers who pay Social Security taxes in their home country and the U.S.

Can Non-Legal Visitors Apply for Disability?

One of the best ways to prove you are legally in the country is to provide the SSA with your green card, visa, or other documentation showing you are legally in the United States. 

You can also cite other conditions to show you should be legally allowed to be in the country. An application for asylum, proof of domestic violence while in the U.S., or a pending application to have a deportation hold withheld can be submitted, too.

If you are Haitian or Cuban, you could possibly apply for benefits if you have received assistance under the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980. 

The laws and guidelines surrounding Social Security disability are complex. To better assess your situation, talk to an experienced attorney who specializes in cases involving immigration status and disability benefits. 

Speak with a legal office like Duncan Disability Law SC to learn more about Social Security disability benefits.