About a month ago, this blog discussed the fact that, for a non-U.S. Citizen to receive Supplemental Security Income, he or she must be a qualified alien under the law. We reviewed the fact that foreign citizens may come to the U.S. in a variety of immigration statuses, and only those who are in the country for certain purposes will be considered qualified aliens. We also mentioned that just being in a qualified alien category is not sufficient to receive SSI benefits, as the applicant must also meet one of another set of criteria. Let’s take a look at those now.
According to the Social Security Administration, one may be eligible for SSI benefits if one is a qualified alien, and meets one of these other criteria. The first is if the alien was legally residing in the U.S. on August 22, 1996 and was receiving SSI at that time. Second are Lawful Permanent Residents (those with green cards) who have over 40 quarters of qualifying work. However, the SSA notes that Lawful Permanent Residents who entered after August 22, 1996 may not be eligible for benefits for five years after attaining such status even with 40 qualifying quarters of work. Third, members of the U.S. Armed Forces may be eligible for SSI, as well as veterans who were discharged honorably for a reason other than their alien status. Fourth, people who were legally in the US on August 22, 1996 and are blind or disabled may be eligible. And finally, foreign citizens who are refugees or asylees, have had their deportation withheld by an immigration court for certain reasons or entered under special laws pertaining to Cubans, Haitians and Amerasians may be eligible.
As this discussion illustrates, the synthesis of immigration and public benefits law can become very complicated very quickly. Those wishing to know more about filing for SSI or other benefits who are not U.S. citizens may wish to consider consulting an experienced Ohio disability attorney.