Noncitizen Eligibility for SSI

In 1996, the rules changed about which immigrants could receive SSI benefits. Prior to that, most immigrants who were permanent residents of the United States, or in the process of becoming permanent residents of the United States could qualify for SSI if they became disabled, blind, or reached age 65. The rules have become much stricter now, but once immigrants become naturalized United States citizens they may qualify for SSI.

Unfortunately, Social Security’s rules for deciding when immigrants who have not become United States citizens may qualify for SSI are very complicated. The table below lists the categories of immigrants eligible for SSI. Social Security labels the groups of immigrants who are potentially eligible for SSI as Qualified Legal Immigrants. However, Qualified Legal Immigrants must meet additional criteria, as set forth below, to receive SSI benefits. To use the table effectively, an immigrant will need to know what his or her immigration status is with the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The 1996 rule changes limited SSI eligibility to the following groups of non-citizens:

A Qualified Legal Immigrant is a non-citizen who is:

And is potentially eligible for SSI benefits only if:

Lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA)

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Has worked, or, for children, has parents who have worked for 40 qualifying quarters (10 years) in the U.S.; OR

Entered the U.S. as a Cuban/Haitian entrant within the last 7 years; OR

Entered the U.S. as an Amerasian immigrant within the last 7 years; OR

Granted status as asylee or deportation was withheld within the last 7 years; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

A refugee admitted to the U.S. under section 207 of the INA

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Entered the U.S. as a refugee within last 7 years; OR

Granted status as asylee or deportation was withheld within last 7 years; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

Granted asylum under section 208 of the INA

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Entered the U.S. as a refugee within last 7 years; OR

Granted asylum within last 7 years; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

Paroled into the U.S. under section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least 1 year

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

A Legal Immigrant whose deportation is being withheld under section 243(h) of the INA as in effect prior to April 1, 1997 or removal withheld under section 241(d)(3) of the INA

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

Granted conditional entry pursuant to section 203(a)(7) of the INA as in effect prior to April 1, 2022

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

Granted Amerasian immigrant status

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Admitted in immigrant status within last 7 years; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

Granted one of the categories of Cuban/Haitian entrant status

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Admitted in immigrant status within last 7 years; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

Granted status based on battery or extreme cruelty

Individual is lawfully residing in the U.S. and was receiving SSI benefits on August 22, 1996; OR

Individual is blind or disabled now and was lawfully residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996; OR

Veteran or current member of U.S. Armed Forces; OR

Spouse or dependent child of veteran or current member of U.S. armed forces.

 

 

Copyright © 2003 - 2004  Health and Disability Advocates.  All rights Reserved.
Contact Health & Disability Advocates : E-Mail   312-223-9600 F.A.X. 312-223-9518
Page last updated November 16, 2004  Webmaster