What are the Social Security Disability requirements for non-citizens to receive a check?

By / March 3, 2016 / Social Security Disability & SSI Basic Facts / 20 Comments

Learn about the residency and other requirements that non-U.S. citizens and non-U.S. nationals must meet to get a Social Security Disability check.

Social Security Disability Requirements for Non-citizens
You may be able to get a Social Security Disability check each month even if you are not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national. If you are an alien, to get Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet the same disability and work-credit rules as a citizen. Please refer to our articles What Is Disability According to Social Security Laws? and How many Social Security-covered work credits do I need to get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits?

Other Rules for Disabled Aliens
Additionally, you have to meet two other eligibility requirements. First, if you were assigned a Social Security number on or after January 2, 2004, the number must have been assigned based on your authorization to work in the United States or you must have been admitted to the United States at any time as a nonimmigrant visitor for business with a B-1 status or as an alien crewman with a D-1 or D-2 status.

Second, for any month you are claiming disability, before you will be paid a Social Security Disability check, you must show that you were legally present in the United States for that benefit month.

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  • Dear Malen,

    I suggest that your husband request a copy of the policy under which he is being paid third-party sick pay, which is probably long-term disability (LTD) benefits. It is quite possible that Social Security retirement benefits applied for after the insurance began will result in a reduction or termination of LTD benefits.

    Apparently your husband is receiving early reduced retirement benefits. If so, he can apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) now, but he will have to prove that he became disabled a long time in the past while he was still insured for Social Security Disability , which could not be any later than 2007, if that. The Social Security Administration can tell him when he was last insured.

    If he is approved, his retirement will be changed to the higher disability rate. Filing such an application could be a good idea because most LTD policies terminate payment at the Social Security full retirement age, which for your husband would be age sixty-six.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Dear Bryan,

    Any paperwork related to your citizenship vs. national status would be obtained and handled by the U.S. Immigration Service. You do not have to report anything to the Social Security Administration as long as you are receiving only Social Security benefits and living in the United States. If you move abroad, your new status might affect your ability to receive benefits abroad. If you again wish to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you would need to declare your status and likely provide the corresponding documentation. U.S. nationals are eligible for SSI, but I am not familiar with the “non U.S. National American” status and don’t know if it qualifies for SSI benefits.

    Sincerely,
    Kay

  • Lana

    Good Day!
    I am a US citizen, I brought both of my parents to US over 10 years and they have Green Cards. My dad is 69 years old and my mom is 67 years old. My dad worked here as a construction person for one year, my mom never worked. Due to my dad medical conditions (extremely high blood pressure and leg cramps) he no longer can work.
    Would you be able to tell if my parents eligible to receive SSI or SSDI?
    Thank You!

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lana,

      Your parents might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on age. Your father has not worked enough for Social Security benefits unless he was working for a US company abroad.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Dear KAY,
    I have been disabled since 2012. And in Aug.2016, I had a letter from SSA with Medicare Part B,stating that,I should start using it as from Oct.2016.
    And one of the paragraphs, it has been stated that I had 36 work credits and not qualified for Social Security monthly benefits because I do not work enough. That I had worked for 9 years short (4 credits , that is 1yr. of work Short.)
    Oct.24th 2016 is my 65th Birthday, and I am still with the illness that disabled me.
    (1) What is my fate, dear Kay.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Moses,

      You do need forty credits to get Social Security retirement. I do not know the extent or severity of your disability, but if you can get some sort of Social Security-covered job and work part-time (maybe even from home) for one year or less, you could earn the credits and receive a retirement benefit. With each $1,260 gross, you earn one credit. Earnings of $5,040 or more in one year earns a maximum of four credits in a single year. This is an average of $420 a month; however you do not have to earn the credits in any particular month. If you have the physical, mental, and occupational ability to do so, you can earn the $5,040 all in one month and get four credits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Mary

    Hello. My mom got to USA on March 2016 she is disable due to fractured of femur I was wondering if she can eligible for ssdi benefits

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Mary,

      If your mother has not worked and paid U.S. Social Security taxes, she is not eligible for Social Security. If she is not a U.S. citizen, depending on her alien status she might not be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability. In addition, both programs require that a person be disabled or be expected to be disabled for twelve months. Usually a fractured femur will heal in less than twelve months. If after receiving this information, you think she might be disabled, she can apply for benefits in her local Social Security office.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Laurie Snyder

    What about disabled children who are not U.S. citizens? How is their eligibility determined?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Laurie,

      Some non-citizens who are legally in the U.S. are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It depends on the immigration status and some other factors. The most reliable way to find out whether the child you are inquiring meets the non-medical requirements is to file an application.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Cintia Ankrom

    Hi I been diagnosed with depression and anxiety I work before but since I have my second child my husband ask me to be full time at home. Do I qualify ?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Cintia,

      If your depression and anxiety are so great that you could not work if you were not choosing to stay home with your children, you can apply for disability benefits. To be eligible for Social Security, you need sufficient work credits; and to be eligible for SSI, your family income and countable assets have to fall below certain limits. If you meet one of those sets of criteria, your claim will be evaluated medically to see if you meet the disability requirements.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Ernesto Garcia

    I being a resident for almost 10 yrs , and work about the same time but recently I try to train for truck driver and found out thru the physical exam that the DOT needs that I have sleep apnea plus got diagnose with a rare infeccion in my scalp and I being in home unemployed for almost 8 months , can I recipe some help? Do I qualify for benefits?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ernesto,

      If you are disabled from occupations you have done in the past and, depending on your age, from new occupation that you could perform if you did nto have medical limitations, you will be considered disabled. You do not say why your conditions keep you from working, so I can’t offer an opinion about whether you might be approved. I suggest that you discuss your limitations with your doctor and then decide whether to file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. (Legal aliens who have worked enough in Social Security-taxed work meet the non-disability requirements; and some legal aliens are also eligible for Supplemental Security Income [SSI], which does not have the same work history requirement.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • George

    Hello my name is George I am 26 years but when I was 19 and in collage the cops from Alameda crashed causing me to be in coma for 2 years and now that am aout of the hospital I can’t work cause after standing up for more then 20min I get some serious pain in my left leg cause they told me they had to put a metal rawd in my leg to save it. I was wondering if I could receive disability. I am currently in USA with a visa but in 2 months I will receive my residency card.

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear George,

      If your only limitation is not being able to stand for long, to be medically disabled, you would have to be unable to perform an occupation you could perform sitting down. If you have worked enough under Social Security in the U.S., you might qualify for benefits in terms of work credits. To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must be a qualified alien and meet one of another conditions. Once you become a resident, you will be qualified. The list of other conditions you are must meet can be found at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0500502100#a3. Because the regulations are complicated for aliens, if you are in doubt, discuss the matter with Social Security. You might also consider seeking retraining or vocational guidance from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation of the state you live in or an organization such as Goodwill.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Jasmin Gomez

    Hi I have a question, if my uncle is in the process of getting his residency could he qualify for benefits.? He’s recently become disabled due to a stroke he’s been here for 15yrs

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Jasmin,

      If your uncle is a legal alien and has been paying Social Security taxes and has enough work credits, he may qualify for Social Security Disability without have a green card. Depending on his immigration status now before becoming a resident, he might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). I suggest that you or he discuss the matter with the Social Security Administration.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • wally

    I retired when i was 64. The company i was working for shut down so i went ahead and retired because of that and my artharitis. I didn’t try to draw disability but now i would like to for the benifits.Can i do that. I am now 69

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Wally,

      Disability benefits are paid only to disabled individuals who are under full retirement age. Because you are older than full retirement age, you are not eligible for disability benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

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