Lawful Alien Status

What is a Lawful Alien?

A lawful alien is a US resident who is not a citizen, but who is legally living in the USA and may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. Lawful aliens have also been given authorization to work. Here are some circumstances where an alien may lawfully reside in the US:

  • An alien who was admitted to the US as a refugee
  • An alien who was granted asylum, or has a pending application for political asylum;
  • An alien who is visiting on a non-immigrant visa;
  • An alien with parole status
  • An alien who is pending deportation
  • An alien who is in the US for humanitarian reasons; or
  • An alien who has been subjected to cruelty via a family member who is a US citizen.

What Benefits Could Lawful Aliens Receive?

Most lawful aliens will only be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. SSDI benefits are for people who have worked in the US and paid US taxes, so if you are a lawful alien but haven't worked much yet, it is possible that you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

If you have worked (5 of the past 10 years is a good rule of thumb), you could be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. To get your claim started, it would be advisable to contact a Social Security advocate or attorney. He or she can help you understand your rights and determine if you could be eligible for Social Security benefits even without being a US citizen.