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Can I Collect Social Security If I'm Not A U.S. Citizen?


If you have an injury that prevents you from working, it can be a very stressful situation not knowing where your next paycheck will come from. American citizens know that they have the option to apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits if they find themselves in this situation. But what about those who are not American citizens?

If you’re not a U.S. citizen and you’re unable to work due to an injury or illness, you may be wondering if you’re eligible to collect SSDI benefits. We’ve provided the guidelines for determining eligibility, so keep reading to find out more.

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Benefits Depend On Your Status In The United States

Can I Collect Social Security If I'm Not A U.S. Citizen?It turns out that you don’t necessarily have to be a citizen to qualify for SSDI benefits. There are many instances where a non-citizen can also apply and receive SSDI benefits.

Anyone who is a permanent resident, or even a lawfully present foreign worker, should pay into the Social Security tax pool. Just like any other worker who pays into this fund, non-citizens who pay into the fund for the required number of years are also able to collect benefits. Even if they are nonresidents, or if they are employees who have only spent a very short time working in the US.

Even if you are not a permanent resident, as long as you can prove that you are lawfully in the United States and that you have paid into the SSDI fund, you may be able to qualify for benefits. A social security disability lawyer can help you out if you are unsure of the laws which might apply to your specific situation.

Exceptions To The Rule

There are a few countries whose residents do not qualify for benefits regardless of their status in America. Residents of Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea cannot qualify for SSDI benefits.

There are also some exceptions for students who are living in the US, as well as temporary workers who do not have to pay into the Social Security Fund.

Proving That You Are Lawfully In The US

Collecting Social Security when you are not a U.S. citizenSo what methods can you use to prove that you are a lawful worker in the United States? There are several conditions that can be used to prove lawful status:

  • Parole status
  • Permission to remain in the United States due to humanitarian or other public policy reasons
  • Abuse or cruelty by a family member while in the United States
  • Deportation has been withheld or there is a pending application that will withhold deportation
  • Visiting on a non-immigrant visa
  • Refugee or conditional refugee status
  • Political asylum or pending political asylum status

Do You Need To Remain In The United States To Collect Benefits?

If you are not a U.S. Citizen, then you typically must return to the US every 30 days or spend at least 30 continual days in the US in a six-month period to collect benefits. If you fail to do this then you will lose any SSDI benefits that you might have access to.

There is an exception for active military for the United States or if you are a citizen of Germany, Japan, Israel, Italy, Ireland or Greece.

Dr. Bill LaTour is Here to Help

We’ve been helping disabled individuals in the Greater Los Angeles area get the disability benefits they need for years. If you need help applying for SSDI benefits or appealing your denied application, call Dr. Bill LaTour and his team today at 800-803-5090 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.