Are Social Security Disability Benefits for Immigrants Available?

Individuals who reside in the U.S. and are considered aliens, nationals, or noncitizens may be eligible for social security benefits. It is well-known that the United States Social Security Administration offers programs to provide benefits for a disabled United States citizens.

However, certain individuals who are not U.S. citizens may also qualify for social security disability benefits. Regardless of your citizenship status, it is important that you contact a social security disability attorney to ensure that your claim is being filed appropriately.

Aliens in the United States

If an individual resides in the United States and is considered a “qualified alien,” then they are eligible for social security benefits. Alternatively, if an individual is a victim of domestic violence inside the United States, he or she may be deemed a qualified alien. An individual must meet one of the following to be considered an eligible alien of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

● The person is a Cuban or Haitian covered by the Refugee Assistance Act;
● A person given asylum;
● A refugee admitted to the United States;
● An individual is given conditional entry into the United States before April 1, 1980;
● A person lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Non-Citizen Native Americans

An individual who meets the health requirements for social security insurance is eligible for social security disability benefits if they meet one of the following criteria:

● If the individual is member of an Indian Tribe recognized by the U.S. Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act;
● If the individual was born in Canada and was admitted to the U.S. under section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

United States Nationals

All United States Nationals are eligible to apply for Social Security benefits. Additionally, all United States citizens are considered nationals, but not all nationals are U.S. citizens. In order to be eligible for a U.S. national certificate an individual must be one of the following:

● A person with two parents who are United States noncitizen nationals;
● An individual born in American Samoa;
● A person under the age of five with no parents;

Additional Conditions

In addition to meeting one of the criteria listed above, and meeting the medical qualifications to be qualified for social security disability, you must also meet one of the following requirements:

● The individual was on activity duty in the United States military;
● The person lawfully entered the United States before August 22, 1996, and is blind;
● The individual legally entered the United States before August 22, 1996, and had been receiving social security benefits;
● The individual has been a permanent resident with over 40 qualifying quarters of work.

In particular, cases in which the immigrant has maintained his or her current immigration status for seven years or less, the social security benefits may be limited to a period of seven years.

Typically, this rule applies to individuals with refugee status under Section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and individuals with asylum status under Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. However, is it possible to circumnavigate this dilemma if you are able to prove one of the following:

● You meet one of the “additional conditions” listed above;
● You qualify for United States citizenship; and
● You are eligible for a two-year extension under P.S. 110-328

Do I Need Proof of Immigrant Status?

To apply for social security benefits, you must provide the Social Security Administration with verified documentation of your current immigration status. Below are some documents you may need to submit:

● Discharge papers proving military service;
● A court order form from an immigration judge showing your immigration status;
● A current departure record.

Special Notes

It should be noted that any non-citizens who were victims of human trafficking or individuals who are in the United States under special immigrant status may also be eligible for Social Security benefits.

Any individual that is facing deportation or removal from the United States, even if otherwise eligible for Social Security benefits, is ineligible to receive benefits.

Are You Struggling With Filing for Social Security Benefits?

The rules and regulations involving immigration and Social Security disability are complex. This multi-layered area of law requires the expertise and knowledge of an experienced social security disability attorney. Here, at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo we are more than happy to help you with the application or appeals process as well as answer any questions or concerns. Contact us or call at 877-299-0779 to receive guidance on the best alternative for your situation.

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