Citizenship status and SSDI eligibility
You do not need US citizenship or permanent residency to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”). However, you must work in The United States legally. In addition, you must have a social security number and earn the necessary work credits to qualify for benefits (work credits are discussed in depth below.) Also, you are unlikely to receive SSDI if you are a non-citizen from Cuba, North Korea, or Vietnam. However, refugees, even if they are from these countries, may receive benefits. A refugee is a person forced to leave their home country in order to escape war, persecution, or a natural disaster.
General SSDI Eligibility
SSDI eligibility is based on numerous factors. First, you must be out of work for a minimum of twelve consecutive months, or have a life-threatening disability. Specifically, Social Security will determine your ability to work by examining your work history for a specific job over fifteen years. Additionally, Social Security will inspect your ability to work in other occupations.
Second, Social Security will examine your monthly income. Specifically, you cannot make over $1130 per month. Visually impaired individuals cannot make over $1820. These amounts, and the cost of living, rise annually. Further, SSDI does not factor in your spouse’s income in determining your benefits.
In conclusion, Social Security examines your medical problems and work experience in determining whether or not you qualify for benefits. Moreover, you must earn a specific amount of work credits to qualify. These requirements depend on your age and the amount of time you worked before your disability. For more details on specific requirements click here.
Citizenship status and SSI eligibility
Blind, disabled, or elderly (over 65) individuals may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). To qualify, your assets cannot exceed $2,000. In addition, your assets cannot exceed $3,000 if you are married. Typically, citizenship is a requirement for SSI eligibility. However, exceptions exist. First, you may qualify if you are disabled or blind, and lived in the United States on August 22, 1996. Second, you may qualify if you lawfully reside in the United States and received SSI on August 22, 1996. Third, you may be eligible for benefits if you have 40 work credits (your parent or spouse’s work credits count) and were lawfully admitted for permanent residency. Although this option is for Disability Insurance (SSDI) and not SSI. For more information, please click here.
How do I prove my legal status to work?
The documents needed to prove your legal status vary, and are dependent upon your immigration status. In order to prove your authorization to work, you must have a social security number, or an employment authorization document also known as an EAD. If you are a refugee, you must present a form I-94 stamped with work approval, as well as photo identification, to obtain a social security number. If you do not have a copy of your I-94, you may apply for or retrieve one here. You may only use this website to obtain an I-94 for yourself, for someone you hold legal guardianship over, or if you have permission from the person whose records you wish to obtain.
Non Immigrant Visas
Individuals with non-immigrant visas need a social security card to lawfully work in The United States. However, it is important that you have a thorough understanding of your visa, because not all non-immigrant visas permit working within the country. In addition, some professions are exempt from paying taxes into the social security system. For example, “teacher, student, researcher, scholar, physician, au pair, [or] camp worker,” positions may not impose social security taxes. Check with your employer if you don’t if know you are paying social security taxes, or refer to your check stubs.
Those that hold a permanent residency card, known also as a green card or I-551 Visa, are eligible to work legally. Most people apply for both a social security number and permanent residency card simultaneously. If you have not applied for a social security card, you can visit your local office in order to do so. You must bring your residency card as well as your birth certificate.
What else do I need to apply for Social Security?
In order to apply, you will need your recent immigration documents, your passport, your social security number, your work history, and your W-2. You should also bring a list of all doctors, clinics, hospitals, medications and dosages, and records from treatment facilities. This includes the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all sources of treatment.