No matter what your country of origin may be, you have the right to be treated fairly and equally. While there are an array of laws which deny certain rights and entitlements to non-citizens, these laws are often not applicable to matters such as SSD/SSI benefits. Since becoming disabled is typically not a choice, there are various parameters in place which prevent the denial of certain benefits to those who need them most. That said, the following is a closer look at how this applies to SSD/SSI benefits and non-citizens.
How the System Works
While some may assume there are egregious motives behind the denial of SSI benefits to non-citizens, the fact of the matter is non-citizens are often not required to pay Social Security taxes. Therefore, when they are seeking benefits from SSI, they are often not extended due to the fact that they did not pay anything into the Department of Social Security, to begin with.
Eligibility for SSD/SSI Benefits
In order to receive SSD/SSI benefits, you must meet the following requirements:
- Must have a Social Security Number assigned on or after January 1, 2004, making you eligible for employment in the U.S.
- Or you must also have a non-immigrant visa that is a B-1, D-1, or D-2
- You must also be able to prove that you are legally in the U.S.
- And you must also be able to comply with all other eligibility criteria (technical and medical) for receiving the benefits.
Primary Categories for Qualifying
Moreover, in addition to the aforementioned requirements, non-citizens must also meet one of the following, to qualify as one of the eight categories of qualified aliens:
- Must have been conditionally admitted to the U.S. under the “Conditional Entrants” laws on or before April 1, 1980
- Must be an LAPR, a Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident of the U.S.
- Under certain circumstances, must be a parolee in the U.S. for over a year
- Must hold refugee status
- If removal or deportation from the U.S. is not an option, must have been granted asylum in the U.S.
- Must be a Haitian or Cuban non-citizen who was granted admittance to the U.S. under the Refugee Education and Assistance Act of 1980
- Must be an alien (or in certain instances, a family member of an alien) who has suffered an egregious level of cruelty or battery in one’s own nation
Moreover, if you have not been deemed eligible thus far, there are a few other exceptions in which you may still be deemed eligible. They are as follows:
- If you are a Native American that holds membership in a federally recognized tribe and were born in Canada.
- If you are an immigrant from Afghanistan or Iraq who aided the U.S. government or military while overseas.
- If you are a human trafficking victims, under specific circumstances.
Overall, if you are a non-citizen seeking Social Security benefits in the United States, this does not have to be such a difficult task. If you are not comfortable with your own ability to properly apply for these benefits, contact an attorney you can trust. While there are no guarantees when dealing with the SSA, hiring a qualified attorney will not only ensure that you are being treated fairly but it will also help expedite the process.