January 15, 2021

Disabled Immigrants May Qualify for Disability Benefits

Disabled immigrants with US permanent residence, refugee status, asylum status, or relevant alien qualification may be acceptable for disability benefits. They should have been in employment and remitted taxes into the Social Security system before their disability. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs grant financial help to those who attain the set disability qualifications.

Types of Immigrants

Understanding the groups of immigrants can help them know their eligibility.

  • Qualified – they include permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, Cubans, and Haitians, paroled individuals, and those whose extradition is withheld.
  • Non-Qualified – refer to those who do not belong to the qualified group. They include investors, casuals, and those who do not comply with their nonimmigrant visas.
  • PRUCOL – points to those “Permanently Residing Under Color of Law”. They do not get any benefits though they continue living in the USA indefinitely.

SSDI Prerequisites for Immigrants

Qualified immigrants who worked in the military or are still on active duty, foreign workers, and all legal immigrants may access SSDI. This is as long as they observe all the relevant rules. The rules include having the appropriate D-1, D-2, or B-1 visas. They should have Social Security Numbers (SSN) issued after 2004. The SSN allows immigrants to be employed legally in the USA.

SSI Prerequisites for Non-citizens

The qualified immigrants who may get the SSI include the US permanent residents, admitted immigrants, refugees, Green Card holders, asylum seekers, and human smuggling survivors. They must also meet other conditions like those outlined in the next section.

SSDI and SSI Assistance

Non-citizens who have been in employment and paid taxes before their disability receive work quarters. One of the conditions for SSDI is to have 40 eligible work quarters. The quarters are only valid if the SSN allows the immigrant to use the number for work.

The work quarters the disabled immigrants accumulate directly correlates to their age group and the quarter amount they have collected. Each year, one earns four quarters. To determine the immigrant’s eligibility for SSDI, he/she has to verify his/her status. This is especially so if he/she does not reimburse Social Security taxes.

The qualified immigrants are fit for SSI if they were getting SSI and legally resided in the USA on August 22, 1996. The disabled or blind also qualify if they were living there legally by that date.

Refugees, asylees, immigrants with withheld deportation, Cubans or Haitians, and Amerisian immigrants may claim SSI for a maximum of 7 years. This starts from when they received their immigration status, which must have been granted within the 7 years of seeking the SSI.

Medical Proof of Disability

Disabled immigrants’ medical conditions have to be certified. This is verified by checking whether those conditions are in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book. They can also verify their conditions through the “residual functional capacity” (RFC) examination. Their disability should also be severe enough to hinder them from employment for about one year. Being terminally ill also qualifies the immigrants for SSDI and SSI.

Starting the Disability Claim Process

Eligible immigrants can start the disability claims process in conjunction with their doctors. The doctors help them understand if their conditions qualify them. A disability lawyer can also come in handy in helping them understand if they qualify. All the measures for each category of immigrants need to be satisfied. This is despite the claims the immigrants make. It can be for one of the two or both, that is, SSDI and SSI.


Non-citizens may have the requisites for the SSDI/SSI benefits. It depends on what they have earned through the years. The taxes they have remitted into the system also count. To ensure they measure up for disability benefits, immigrants need to understand their immigration status and disability laws. By enlisting professional help, they stand a better chance of receiving Social Security benefits.