Social Security And Medicare Benefits For Immigrants
Social Security and Medicare are two of the federally provided benefits that American workers look forward to as they retire. Workers and their employers generally fund these programs throughout a career. Immigrants who have worked in the United States through lawful employment will generally qualify for these same benefits. Thus, Social Security and Medicare benefits for immigrants are available, provided they meet eligibility requirements.
Although the two programs are somewhat related, they are for different purposes. Social Security primarily provides retirement income, and the Medicare program is a health insurance option for older residents. Many U.S. citizens, permanent residents and even certain nonimmigrant workers use these benefits.
How Your Green Card Helps You Apply For Social Security Benefits
Most lawful permanent residents who live and work in the U.S. are Green Card holders. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues each Green Card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card. You need a current Green Card to apply for other important identity and work-related documents, such as:
- State-issued drivers license
- Social Security card printed with your assigned number
Your Green Card proves youre a permanent resident aged 18 or older authorized to live and work in the U.S. However, that document alone isnt enough to qualify you for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Requirements For Non
Even if you have not worked in the U.S., you may still qualify for SSI if you are:
- A lawful permanent resident
- Granted conditional entry to the U.S.
- Admitted as an Amerasian Immigrant
- Admitted as an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant
- An alien who is having removal withheld
- A Haitian or Cuban Entrant
You must also fall into one of the following categories:
- Youre blind and disabled and were lawfully living in the U.S. on August 22, 1996
- You were living legally in the U.S. on August 22, 1996, and were receiving SSI
- You are a veteran or on active duty for the U.S. Armed Forces
- Your spouse or dependent is a veteran or on active duty for the U.S. Armed Forces
- Youre a victim of human trafficking
- Youre an American Indian born in Canada or are a member of a federally recognized tribe
You will also have to meet disability requirements, which means your condition must be severe enough that you cannot work. It must also be expected to last at least 12 months or result in your death.
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Benefits Of Having A Green Card
With immigration laws constantly being reviewed and updated, keeping current with the changes or proposed changes to legislation and requirements is critical. US immigration services implements any policy changes made at the national level almost instantly, making it vital that immigrants stay up to date with the latest information.
This is especially important for immigrants in the United States who have been granted a Green Card and are thus considered permanent legal residents. Its also just as important for them to learn about the Green Card renewal process early on, to avoid serious problems later.
With all this talk about Green Cards, its easy to lose track of why being granted one is so important. So what benefits can you enjoy when you are finally granted a Green Card?
Can Green Card Holders Enroll In A Medicare Advantage Plan
Yes, as permanent residents, green card holders usually have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan as long as theyre already enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
Learn more about Medicare by reading our Spanish Recursos de Medicare, or call today to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can help you compare Medicare plans available where you live.
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About the author
Lisa Eramo is an independent health care writer whose work appears in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, Healthcare Financial Management Association, For The Record Magazine, Medical Economics, Medscape and more.
Lisa studied creative writing at Hamilton College and obtained a masters degree in journalism from Northeastern University. She is a member of the American Health Information Management Association, American Academy of Professional Coders, Society of Professional Journalists, Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
Lisa currently resides in Cranston, Rhode Island with her wife and two-year-old twin boys.
Plan availability varies by region and state. For a complete list of available plans, please contact 1-800-MEDICARE , 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
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What Public Benefits Do Green Card Holders Receive
Medicare is just one of the public benefits or government assistance that green card holders may receive.
Other public services green card holders can access include:
- Social Security: Retirement benefits, disability benefits, and survivors benefits
- Supplemental Security Income: Cash assistance for seniors with low incomes and children and adults with disabilities and low incomes
- Medicaid:Health coverage for people with low incomes
- Health Insurance Marketplace: Channel for purchasing individual and family private health insurance. The marketplace can also help green card holders access income-based subsidies to reduce their health expenses.
- Childrens Health Insurance Program : Subsidized health coverage for families with incomes that dont qualify for Medicaid
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families : Temporary cash assistance for families with low incomes participating in job training programs
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program : Electronic debit cards to help people with low incomes purchase food.
- Federally Funded Public Housing: Program which places people with low-incomes in government-owned homes
- Section 8 Housing:Voucher program that helps people with low incomes rent private accommodation
Note that some public benefits may have different names in your state or county. Eligibility requirements also vary. If you want to enroll in a benefit program or check whether you qualify, contact your local public benefits office.
Do Immigrants Over 65 Qualify For Social Security
Most people who immigrate to the United States after reaching retirement age have not accumulated the requisite 40 work credits to qualify for U.S. Social Security unless they worked in the country for a cumulative 10 years when they were younger.
However, those who are able to legally work in the U.S. for a year and a half after arriving, and who earn at least $1,470 per quarter , may qualify to receive prorated U.S. Social Security benefits, under a totalization agreement with their countries of origin.
A totalization agreement is an arrangement between two countries with similar social security programs that ensures workers and their employers dont pay social security taxes on the same earnings in both countries. It also prevents individuals from double-dipping when they claim benefits. The U.S. has such agreements with the following countries:
- The United Kingdom
An immigrant who comes to the U.S. from Italy, for example, and has some work history in both countries, but not enough to fully qualify for Social Security benefits in either country, can combine his or her foreign and domestic work history in order to qualify for Social Security benefits, explains investment advisor Mark Hebner.
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Supplemental Security Income Benefits
Social Security Disability Income And Medicare
Some immigrants worked and paid into the social security system prior to the onset of their disability. Workers with sufficient work quarters are eligible for Social Security Disability Income or SSDI. Twenty-four months after SSDI benefits begin the immigrant will be eligible for Medicare health insurance.
Immigrants can qualify for SSDI if they have the required work quarters. For benefits based upon work quarters earned after December 31, 2003, the social security number must be valid for work purposes. The SSDI program does not use the terms Qualified Immigrants and Not Qualified Immigrants. Instead the program requires that the immigrant be lawfully present in the U.S. Lawfully present means the immigrant has a valid social security number, has been inspected by DHS and has not violated the terms of admission to the U.S.
An excellent resource for information affecting immigrants is the National Immigration Law Center. Before applying for SSI and Medicaid, immigrants should confirm with an immigration attorney whether these benefits will harm their immigration status. They should also consult with a special needs attorney to confirm which government benefit programs are available to provide cash benefits or medical coverage to an immigrant with disabilities.
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Factors Considered In Assessing A Permanent Resident’s Eligibility For Benefits
The benefits that a lawful permanent resident can receive will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- when the LPR obtained permanent resident status
- how the LPR obtained permanent resident status
- whether the LPR has credit for “40 quarters” of work in the U.S.
- the county or state that the LPR lives in, and
- whether “deeming rules” apply. Under “deeming rules,” the income of an LPR’s “sponsor” is also counted when determining whether the LPR can receive public benefits.
We will assume that the LPR received this status on or after August 22, 1996 and was never in any of the following categories, to which special rules apply:
- active duty member of the U.S. military
- spouse of a member of the U.S. military
- surviving, un-remarried spouse of a deceased member of the U.S. military, or
- surviving child of a deceased member of the U.S. military.
Citizenship Status And Disability Benefits
The Voice is the e-mail newsletter of The Special Needs Alliance. This installment was written by Special Needs Alliance member Barbara Isenhour, Esq., of the firm of Isenhour Bleck, PLLC in Seattle, Washington. The firm focuses on government benefits for individuals with disabilities and estate planning for families with special needs children. A board member of NAMI Eastside in Redmond, Washington, and Full Life Care in Seattle, Barbara frequently lectures around the state of Washington on issues involving special needs trusts and government benefits for the elderly and disabled.
A sudden accident or illness that results in permanent disabilities is difficult enough without adding the complication of whether an individualâs citizenship status will eliminate the availability of important income and health care benefits. Every federal benefit program has its own citizenship requirements. This article focuses on two benefit programs that can be critical for a person with disabilities: Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. SSI is a cash benefit and Medicaid pays for medical care and nursing home or other community-based care for eligible individuals with disabilities.
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Qualified And Not Qualified Immigrants
For individuals who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. Nationals there are two main categories of immigrants for public benefit purposes:
1. âQualified Immigrantsâ include the following individuals:
- Lawful permanent residents
- Refugees and asylees who have a fear of persecution in their country of origin
- Cuban and Haitian entrants
- Individuals granted parole into the U.S. for at least one year
- Individuals admitted as conditional entrants
- Individuals granted withholding of deportation or removal by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
- Certain victims of spousal or child abuse or human trafficking
The SSI program and state Medicaid agencies usually rely on the Department of Homeland Security to verify that an immigrant meets the requirements to be considered a Qualified Immigrant. For victims of abuse and human trafficking, the SSI program will deem individuals eligible while their applications are under consideration with DHS.
Qualified and Not Qualified Immigrants are not terms used by DHS or USCIS to explain a personâs immigration status. These terms are unique to federal government benefit programs providing cash assistance, medical assistance and other benefits to help individuals who are elderly, disabled or low income.
Eligibility For Ssi And Medicaid
The date August 22, 1996, is an important date for government benefit eligibility. That was the effective date of a federal law, generally referred to as âwelfare reform.â That law imposed severe restrictions on immigrant eligibility for federal government benefit programs, including food stamps, Aid to Families with Dependent Children now known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families ), SSI and Medicaid. All Qualified and Not Qualified Immigrants are grandfathered into SSI eligibility if they were receiving SSI or had an application pending on August 22, 1996. The same grandfather status applies to Medicaid if the immigrant was automatically receiving Medicaid linked to SSI eligibility on that date.
For immigrants who are not grandfathered into SSI or Medicaid, the following rules apply:
Not Qualified Immigrants are ineligible for most Medicaid programs and SSI except eligible Native Americans and victims of human trafficking. Native Americans born outside the U.S. may qualify for SSI and Medicaid even if they are Not Qualified Immigrants if they were born in Canada or are enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe. Not Qualified Immigrants can qualify for the Emergency Medicaid program and the WIC program discussed below and some state funded medical programs.
Qualified Immigrants are ineligible for SSI and most Medicaid programs unless they fall within one of the following exceptions:
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Talk To A Disability Lawyer
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History Of Battery And Cruelty For Immigrants
- Applicants will need to know that this question about battery and cruelty will be asked and may need help in talking about their experiences
- Question 13 on the SSA-8000 is the first question about this issue
- Question 13 addresses whether or not a formal petition has been submitted with DHS for a change in immigration status because of battery or cruelty
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Chart A Entry Before 1996
|If the alien entered the U.S. before Aug. 22, 1996, and the USCIS document is an …||then the alien is …|
eligible if the alien meets the criteria in Section D-8320, Qualified Aliens Not Subject to a Waiting Period or Limited Period.
Unless the alien meets the criteria in Section D-8320, consider Medicaid for the treatment of an emergency medical condition.
Note: Follow your policy clearance request procedures for questions about documents or immigration statuses not listed in this chart.
What Happens If I Stay More Than 6 Months Outside Us
If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk abandoning your green card. This is especially true after multiple prolonged absences or after a prior warning by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the airport.
Financial Benefits For Students
A further plus point: Foreigners studying in the USA who take on a part-time job are subject to established work restrictions. In comparison to those studying with a student visa, Green Card holders are allowed to work off campus as well as study. This is a significant advantage as it widens the job market and expands options. There are other benefits of studying in the USA as well. Being able to speak English is fundamentally a must in todays job market and learning a language abroad is the best way to gain these competencies.
The Green Card makes it possible to study at U.S. universities at a much lower cost
Get A Social Security Number
To qualify for Social Security as a legal immigrant, you must have a Social Security number . Many people apply for one during the immigration process, or are able to visit a Social Security office in person to complete this process. This will require filling out Social Security Form SS-5.
Legal immigrants also need a Social Security number to be hired by any law-abiding employer in the United States. The employer will then report your wage earnings to the federal government under your name and identified with your SSN. That way, the Social Security Administration can connect work credits to individuals and make sure you receive the work credits and benefits you have earned.
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