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Supplemental Security Income for noncitizens, Part I

Like many states, New Jersey has large numbers of noncitizens from other countries who live and work in the state. According to rules established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, some of these foreign citizens are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income through the Social Security Administration if they meet certain criteria.

To receive SSI benefits, a noncitizen must fulfill at least one of three basic requirements: be a lawful resident in the United States as of August 22, 1996, and be blind or disabled; be receiving SSI as of August 22, 1996, and be a lawful resident of the United States; or have obtained permanent residence in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act and have 40 credits of work in this country. In this case, work done by parents or spouses can be considered in determining eligibility.

In addition, the SSI program is applicable to other noncitizens according to the criteria set by the SSA. These eligible people are military members on active deployment, noncitizen members of Indian tribes recognized by the federal government and certain groups of immigrants identified as Amerasian. Furthermore, immigrants from Cuba or Haiti who have been admitted into the country under the Refugee Education Assistance Act also may be eligible for SSA benefits. Likwise, certain victims of aggravated forms of human trafficking, and residents from Iraq and Afghanistan who are lawful permanent U.S. residents may be eligible for benefits.

While applying for SSI benefits, a noncitizen is required to prove his or her citizenship status. Among the necessary documents are current Forms I-94 or I-551 from either the Department of Homeland Security or an immigration judge. Non-Americans who have served in the U.S. armed forces also may have to present proof of military service. As supporting documents, these applicants can produce DD Form 214, which states that an applicant was honorably discharged from the military.

Source: SSA.gov, "Supplemental Security Income (SSI) For Noncitizens," Accessed on Jan. 22, 2015

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