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As a non-citizen, are you eligible for SSI?

If you are in the United States as a non-citizen, there are two main requirements you must meet to be eligible for Social Security Income. There are other requirements for SSI as well, and you must also be classified under one of several categories to be considered a “qualified alien.”

Qualified alien status

The two main requirements for SSI are that you be a qualified alien and that you meet one or more of the accepted conditions to become eligible. You can be listed as a qualified alien under certain categories set forth by the Department of Homeland Security. For example, if you are or have been:

  •         Lawfully admitted into the country for permanent status
  •         Given conditional entry
  •         Granted asylum
  •         Paroled into the country for at least one year
  •         A Haitian or Cuban entrant
  •         A refugee

You might also be in line for deportation, but your removal from the country is being withheld for some reason under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Conditions for eligibility

If you are deemed to be a qualified alien, have limited resources and income and are disabled, blind or aged, the next step is to meet certain eligibility conditions. One such condition is that you were living in the United States and receiving SSI on August 22, 1996. Another condition is that you might be someone “Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence” with at least 40 quarters of earnings for obtaining SSI.

No work history needed

An attorney experienced in handling cases for non-citizens who wish to apply for SSI will tell you that there are other eligibility conditions. However, keep in mind that you are not required to have a work history, nor are you required to have paid Social Security taxes. SSI is a welfare program, and although it seems complicated, everything can be fully explained so that you will understand what is involved in becoming a qualified alien and meeting the conditions for eligibility.

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The Law Center for Social
Security Disability

414 NW 4th Street Suite 140
Entrance on East Side of Building
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Phone: 405-896-8852
Fax: 405-272-0367
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