Although Social Security Disability benefits are typically reserved for citizens of the United States, individuals who have reached “Lawful Alien Status” may also be eligible to receive disability benefits. Lawful alien status means that a person has been admitted to the United States and has been granted permanent authorization to work by the United Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Federal law requires that all workers pay Social Security taxes. Therefore, if a lawful alien works in the United States and has paid an adequate amount of Social Security taxes, they will be covered under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for services that were performed in the United States. Individuals who have achieved lawful alien status may also be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
It is important to note that if a lawful alien wishes to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they must be able to show proof of their lawful alien status.
Individuals are considered to have lawful alien status if they are lawfully in the US under one of the following conditions:
- Individual was granted admission as a refugee or conditional entrance as a refugee;
- Individual was granted asylum status or has a pending application for political asylum;
- Individual is temporarily visiting on a non-immigrant visa;
- Individual has achieved parole status;
- Individual has had deportation withheld or has a pending application for withholding of deportation;
- Individual has been granted permission to remain in the US for humanitarian reasons; or
- Individual has been abused or subject to the cruelty of a family member while residing in the US.