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Green Card and SSA Disability Benefits

Can I get SSDI with a Green Card?


If you have been issued a Green Card you have been given permission or authorization to permanently live and work in the United States. The United States’ Government will issues a Green Card for proof of your status. Permanent residency may be obtained through a sponsorship from an employer or family member, or through a refugee or asylum status.

Getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)


There are several requirements for getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for green card holders, as well as all other U.S. workers. First you must prove that you have a severe, disabling health condition which does not allow you to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months.

Earning sufficient work credits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)


Claimants must also prove that they have enough work credits which they have earned by paying employment taxes to the Social Security Administration. This is where it gets a bit confusing. The method used to earn credits has changed since 1978 but after 1978 employers started reporting a worker’s earnings one time per year. Now, your work credits are generated based on your total wages or self-employment income. Now workers must earn $1,130 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $4,520 to get the maximum four credits for the year (2012).

But how do you know if you are insured? Now, the number of work credits you will need to be insured for SSDI will depend on your age at the time you become disabled and most older claimants will need approximately 40 work credits. BUT, and this is a big BUT that confuses a lot of claimants, most claimants will need to have earned 20 work credits within the last 10 years ending with the year that the claimant became disabled.

What does this mean? It means if you have worked for 30 years and you stop working and wait too long to apply for SSDI disability benefits you may find that you are no longer insured. Now, let’s go back to the question, “Can I get SSDI as a Green Card holder?”

Social Security Disability Insurance and Green Card Holders


If you have a Green Card you have been given the legal authority to work in the United States. Whether or not you will qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will come down to whether or not you have paid employment taxes into the Social Security Administration system.

If you have worked and earned sufficient work credits to be considered insured for SSDI than if you become disabled with a serious health condition which meets the requirements outlined above you may qualify for SSDI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI)


The Social Security Administration also offers another cash assistance program for the disabled, blind and age. This program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and it does not require applicants to have worked and earned work credits to qualify. Claimants, however, must be able to prove the following to qualify:

  1. They are a resident of the United States as defined under § 416.1603 or-

  2. They are citizen or a national of the United States defined under § 416.1610

  3. They are an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States defined under § 416.1615

  4. They are an alien permanently residing in the United States under color of law defined under § 416.1618; or

  5. They are a child of armed forces personnel living overseas as described in § 416.216.


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