Can a non-citizen/person living outside the U.S. receive disability benefits?

If you are a US Citizen, but you move or remain outside of the US for more than 30 days, your SS benefits will stop.

To qualify for benefits, all noncitizens first must meet the same eligibility requirements as United States citizens regarding disability.

Additionally, a noncitizen or alien worker assigned a Social Security number (SSN) on or after January 1, 2004 must meet additional eligibility requirements. If you are subject to this provision, neither you nor your dependents can qualify for benefits based on your earnings unless you meet one of the following:

  1. You were assigned an SSN based on your authorization to work in the United States at any time on or after January 1, 2004, or
  2. You were admitted to the United States at any time as a nonimmigrant visitor for business (B-1) or as an alien crewman (D-1 or D-2).

Once an alien worker has met eligibility criteria, we must have evidence of the lawful presence of the beneficiary. That means before we can pay out benefits for any given month, we must have evidence during that month the beneficiary was either:

  • A United States citizen;
  • A United States national; or
  • An alien lawfully present in the United States

Generally, if you are a noncitizen in one of certain immigration categories granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), you may be eligible for SSI if:

You were lawfully residing in the United States on Aug. 22, 1996, and you are blind or disabled; or
You were receiving SSI on Aug. 22, 1996, and you are lawfully residing in the United States; or
You were lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and have a total of 40 credits of work in the United States. (Your spouse’s or parent’s work also may count.)

NOTE: If you entered the United States on or after Aug. 22, 1996, then you may not be eligible for SSI for the first five years as a lawfully admitted permanent resident even if you have 40 credits of earnings.

Some other noncitizens who may be eligible for SSI payments are:
Active duty members of the U.S. armed forces;
Noncitizen members of federally recognized Indian tribes;
Certain noncitizens admitted as Amerasian immigrants;
Cuban/Haitian entrants admitted under the Refugee Education Assistance Act;
Certain victims of severe forms of human trafficking; and
Certain Iraqi or Afghan special immigration.

Please visit our website at www.socialsecurityjustice.com or contact one of the Bailey & Galyen offices for additional information.