Immigrants and Social Security Disability

December 16, 2016

The Social Security Administration (SSA) aids individuals who need assistance, especially individuals with disabilities. Not all individuals whom the SSA assists are American citizens; some are immigrants, or non-citizens.

Non-citizens, or “aliens,” can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they fulfill the criteria set forth by statutes, effected August 22, 1996. The criteria they must fulfill to be “qualified aliens” and to meet separate criteria that permits qualified aliens to acquire SSI. In addition, non-citizens are required to meet all the other SSI criteria, such as income restrictions.

How do you know if you are a “qualified alien?”

The United States government has seven different types of “qualified aliens,” and to be a qualified alien you must have the characteristics of at least one of those seven types. Thus, according to the U.S. government, qualified aliens are:

  • Lawful permanent residents
  • Lawful temporary residents
  • Lawful parolees granted U.S. entry
  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Immigrants with suspended deportation
  • Cubans or Haitians applying for U.S. entry for refuge and/or education reasons
  • Children or Parents who were treated callously by relatives

If you are a “qualified alien,” how do you know you are eligible for SSI?

You know you are a qualified alien who is eligible for SSI if you are:

  • Getting SSI benefits and a lawful U.S. resident as of August 22, 1996
  • A lawful resident with forty or more work quarters
  • An active member of the U.S. military or an honorably discharged veteran
  • A lawful resident with a disability and/or blindness

The SSA might include any job or jobs performed by your husband, wife, parent, or parents in the forty work quarters you need.

Under certain circumstances, however, the SSA can use the income restriction clause to exclude work quarters reached after December 31, 1996 if you, your husband, wife, parent, or parents were getting government benefits. Similarly, the SSA does not view you as a qualified alien if you gained U.S. entry via the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) of 2000; if you gained U.S. entry via the VTVPA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must give you the correct status documentation before you can qualify for SSI benefits. Moreover, although you have forty work quarters, you might not qualify for SSI benefits during your initial five years as a lawful resident if you came to the U.S. on or after August 22, 1996.

If you or a loved one is applying for Social Security Disability benefits near Philadelphia but is running into obstacles, do not worry. Turn to one of our Philadelphia Social Security Disability lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates. For more information, contact us to schedule an appointment or call 888.PITT.LAW to meet at any of our offices serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.