Can Noncitizens Get SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not the same thing as Social Security Disability (SSD). SSI is described as a federal income supplement program, and the funds come from tax revenues, not from people’s Social Security taxes.

SSI was designed for older adults, the blind, and disabled individuals who have little to no income. SSI is meant to help qualifying individuals meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing. Unlike SSD, child support cannot be taken from SSI benefits.

Who is Eligible for SSI?

It is possible for certain noncitizens to receive SSI, but they have to be in certain immigration categories that were granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For starters, a noncitizen has to be in the United States legally. If you’re not lawfully present in the US, you will not be eligible for SSI benefits.

Here is a list of the types of noncitizens that may be eligible for SSI:

  • Noncitizens who are a member of the Armed Forces and on active duty;
  • A noncitizen who is a member of a federally-recognized Indian tribe;
  • Certain individuals who were admitted into the US as Amerasian immigrants;
  • Cuban and Haitian immigrants who were admitted to the US under the Refugee Education Assistance Act;
  • Certain individuals who are victims of human trafficking, especially if it was severe; and
  • Certain immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, who were admitted as lawful permanent residents.

This is not a complete list. There are other situations where a noncitizen may be eligible for SSI benefits. If you are eligible for SSI benefits, you may be able to get SSI for up to seven years. If your noncitizen status caps your SSI benefits at seven years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send you a letter explaining when your seven-year period is over. The SSA will also send you another letter that explains your right to file an appeal before the SSA stops your SSI payments.

Next: SSD: Who Decides If You’re Disabled?

To learn more about SSI benefits for noncitizens, and any other benefits available, contact our firm to meet with a Plano SSD attorney.

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