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Do I Need To Be A Citizen To Qualify For Supplemental Security Income?

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2020 | SSI |

From its earliest days, New York City has been a city of immigrants. Seelig Law Offices is proud to call this city, the home of the Statue of Liberty and many vibrant communities of people who have moved here to create a better life for themselves our home as well.

The American Dream is a powerful motivator that draws many people to our shores, but it is not accessible to everyone. Just like citizens, legal aliens sometimes fall on hard times and need assistance meeting their basic needs. One of the programs they can turn to under certain circumstances is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program administered through the Social Security Administration.

What Is SSI?

SSI provides monetary aid to low-income individuals who are over the age of 65, legally blind, or disabled. Disabled or blind children may also qualify for benefits.

Who Qualifies for SSI?

To be eligible to receive SSI benefits, an individual must prove:

  • That he or she is a senior citizen (65 years of age or older), blind, or disabled due to a physical or mental condition;
  • That he or she has an income below the limit in his or her state;
  • That he or she has applied for all other benefits, including Social Security benefits;
  • That he or she does not have an arrest warrant, has not violated parole, and has given accurate financial information;
  • That he or she has not left the United States for more than 30 days after applying; and
  • That he or she is a legal resident of the United States.

Does “Legal Resident” Mean Non-Citizens Qualify for SSI?

Many non-citizens, also called “aliens” for immigration purposes, are eligible for SSI benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, there are 7 categories of aliens who qualify for SSI benefits:

  • Lawfully Admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the U.S., which includes “Amerasian immigrant” as defined in P.L. 100-202, with a class of admission AM-1 through AM-8;
  • Granted conditional entry under Section 203(a)(7) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect before April 1, 1980;
  • Paroled into the U.S. under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least one year;
  • Refugee admitted to the U.S. under Section 207 of the INA;
  • Granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA;
  • Deportation is being withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA, as in effect before April 1, 1997; or removal is being withheld under Section 241(b)(3) of the INA;
  • “Cuban and Haitian entrant” as defined in Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a “Cuban/ Haitian entrant” for SSI purposes.

In addition, you can be a “deemed qualified alien” if, under certain circumstances, you, your child or parent were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by a family member while in the United States.

When Winning Matters Most

Seelig Law Offices has years of experience helping non-citizens apply for disability benefits. We would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about your eligibility for SSI or other benefit programs. Please contact our office to schedule a free appointment.