Can non-US citizens receive SSD benefits?

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2017 | Blog, Firm News |

Social Security Disability Insurance exists so that individuals who have sustained a significant injury can receive some relief from economic hardship. Some reports estimate that nearly 8.8 million people rely on these benefits. 

Every year, millions of people from all over to the world travel to the United States for various reasons. Some come here for work opportunities, while others are merely here to relax on vacation. However, during such a stay, these people can sustain injuries. There are many gray areas to SSD law, and one of these areas is whether non-US citizens can receive benefits. 


For a person who is not a citizen of the United States, he or she must meet certain requirements to receive SSD benefits. The criteria include:

  • Proof that he or she is in the United States legally on a valid visa
  • Possession of a one of these visas: B-1, D-1 or D-2
  • Possession of a Social Security Number issued after January 1st, 2004 that permits authorization to work in the United States

In addition to all this, the person must also meet all the criteria required to file a Social Security Disability claim that any US citizen would need to meet.

Non-US citizens can qualify for such benefits because they contribute to the Social Security pool. However, there are circumstances where a person becomes hurt while in the United States legally but cannot qualify. One example would be foreign exchange students, because they do not typically pay into the tax pool. 

Additionally, people from certain countries cannot receive Social Security benefits even if they meet all of the above criteria. This includes people from Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. The United States has also entered into various totalization agreements with many countries, which prevent people born in one country but working in another from paying Social Security taxes to both countries. Such circumstances may prevent someone from qualifying for these benefits.


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