FAQs Answers (Continued)

Can a non-citizen receive Supplemental Security Income benefits?

A non-citizen may receive Supplementary Security Income (SSI) if he or she meets the requirements of the laws for non-citizens that went into effect on August 22, 1996 and all the other requirements for SSI eligibility, such as the limits on income and resources. In general, beginning August 22, 1996, most non-citizens must meet 2 requirements to be potentially eligible for SSI:

  1. Be in a “qualified alien” category and 2. Meet a condition that allows qualified aliens to get SSI.

There are 8 categories of “qualified aliens”. The categories are:

  • 1. Lawfully admitted for permanent resident in the U.S. (“LAPR”), including certain “Amerasian immigrants”.2. “Conditional Entrants” under the law in effect before April 1, 1980; 3. Paroled into the U.S. for certain reasons for a period of one year or more;4. Refugee; 5. Granted asylum;6. Deportation or removal is being withheld for certain reasons; 7. Cuban and Haitian entrant under the Refugee Education and Assistance Act of 1980; or 8. One of certain aliens who have been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty or whose child or parent has been subject to battery or extreme cruelty.

A “qualified alien” is potentially eligible for SSI if he or she meets one of the following conditions:

  1. 1. Was receiving SSA on August 22, 1996 and is lawfully residing in the US;
  2. 2. Is lawfully admitted for permanent residence and has 40 qualifying quarters of work. Work done by a spouse or parent may be counted toward the 40 quarters of work. Some restrictions may apply if the non-citizen or the working spouse or parent received certain Federally funded benefits after December 31, 1996;
    Important: If you entered the U.S. on or after 8/22/96, then you may not be eligible for SSI for the first five years as an LAPR even if you have 40 qualifying quarters of earnings.
  3. 3. Is an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces, one of certain honorably discharged veterans, or one of certain dependents of U.S. military personnel;4. Was lawfully residing in the United States on August 22, 1996 and is blind or disabled;5. Filed for SSI within 7 years of being granted status as a refugee, asylee, Cuban and Haitian entrant, Amerasian Immigrant, or deportation or removal is being withheld.

A qualified alien in one of these categories may be eligible for a maximum of 7 years from the date status was granted. If a qualified alien in one of these categories also meets one of the conditions listed above, then SSI can continue beyond the 7 - year period. In addition to qualified aliens who must meet a a condition for eligibility, there are certain categories of non-citizens who are exempt for SSI. These categories include certain Canadian-born American Indians and non-citizens members of a Federally recognized American Indian tribe.

A non-citizen may also be eligible under certain circumstances if the Department of Health and Human Services determines that he or she meets the requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

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If I don’t have any regular health care, how do I get medical treatment while I am waiting for a decision from the Social Security Administration?

You can seek health care from your county health department.

At the DiLorenzo Law Office we will help but you in touch with health care providers in and around our community who see individuals without health insurance at little to no cost.

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If I am disabled or thinking of retiring what are my options and what do I need to consider?

As you approach the age when you can receive Social Security retirement benefits, you have options to consider and decisions to make. Before making your retirement decisions, a filing for disability, we hope you will consider all the options.

There are important questions that you need to ask yourself. At what age do you want to begin receiving benefits? Do you want to stop working and receive benefits? Do you want to work and receive benefits at the same time? Or do you want to work beyond your full retirement age and delay receiving benefits? Will it be financially advantageous to go on disability and file for retirement?

When you continue working beyond full retirement age, your benefits may increase because of your additional earnings. If you delay receiving benefits, your benefits will increase because of the special credits you will receive for delaying your retirement. This increase benefit could be important to you later in life. It also could increase the future benefit amounts your family and survivors could receive. This is why you should also consider filing for SSDI if you are incapable of working the equivalent of a 40 hour work week due to physical or mental limitations.

Each person’s retirement situation is different. It depends on the circumstances such as health, financial needs and obligations, family responsibilities, amount of income from work and other sources. It also may depend on the amount of your Social Security benefit.

We hope the following information will help you make your retirement decision.

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If I decide to file for SSDI, will Social Security disability insurance help my dependents?

Yes. If you are approved for SSDI benefits, other family members may also qualify for benefits.

Generally, benefits will be available for:

  • children under 19 who have not finished high school
  • a spouse who is caring for a child under the age of 16
  • a spouse over age 62

To avoid unnecessary delays, apply for SSDI dependent benefits at the same time you are applying for your own benefits.

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Can’t I just wait or should I apply for Social Security Disability right away?

No matter what your circumstances, you should apply for Social Security disability benefits immediately. Social Security will pay benefits retroactively for 12 months prior to your filing date. By waiting, you may lose retroactive benefits and delay your entitlement to Medicare. Moreover, even though you have paid into the system, you are not insured forever and eligibility for SSD benefits will evaporate if you are not found to be disabled prior to your date of being last insured (usually 4 to 5 years after you were last gainfully employed). Finally, waiting may make it more difficult to gather the information that you need to support your claim. In addition, waiting may make it more difficult to gather the information that you need to support your claim.

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Will I lose my Social Security disability benefits if I return to work?

Not necessarily. You can continue to receive Social Security benefits for at least nine months after you return to work. If you can’t continue to work beyond this nine-month period, your Social Security benefits will continue.

In addition, your Medicare will continue for at least 8 ½ years after you return to work. These work incentives allow you to test your ability to work without fear of losing your benefits.

For more information regarding work incentives, see the “Red Book on Work Incentives” published by the SSA - www.ssa.gov/work/ResoucesToolkit/redbook_page.html.* See: *How Work Affects Your Benefits (publication No. 05-10069)

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What are my retirement options?

Retiring at full retirement age - To retire, you must have earned 40 credit. See the table below to determine your full retirement age.

Year of Birth

Full Retirement Age

1937 or earlier



65 and 2 months


65 and 4 months


65 and 6 months


65 and 8 months


65 and 10 months




66 and 2 months


66 and 4 months


66 and 6 months


66 and 8 months


66 and 10 months

1960 or later


* Refer to the previous year if you were born January 1st.

Retiring early - If you’ve earned 40 credits, you can start receiving Social Security benefits at 62 or at any month between 62 and full retirement age. However, your benefits will be permanently reduced based on the number of months you receive benefits before you reach full retirement age.

If your full retirement age is 66, they will be reduced:

25% at age 62;
20% at age 63;
13 ½ % at age 64; or
6 2/3 % at age 65.

Receiving retirement benefits while you work - You can work while receiving monthly benefits. And it could mean a higher benefit that can be more important to you later in your life and increase future benefits your family and survivors could receive.

The SSA will review your record each year to see whether the additional earnings will increase your monthly benefit. If there’s an increase, the SSA will send you a notice of you new benefit amount. Earnings in or after the month you reach full retirement age won’t reduce your Social Security benefits. However, if you receive benefits before reaching your full retirement age, your benefit amount will be reduced, unless you have been determined disabled by the SSA.

* In the years before you reach full retirement age, $1 will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the limit (40,080 in 2013).
If you lose benefits because of work, your benefit will be increased later to account for the months you didn’t receive benefits before reaching full retirement age.

Delaying Retirement - You may decide to continue working beyond your full retirement age without choosing to receive benefits. If so, your benefit will be increased by a certain percentage for each month you don’t receive benefits between your full retirement age and age 70. This table shows the rate your benefits will increase if you delay retiring.

Year of Birth

Yearly Increase Rate







1943 or later


Applying for Social Security Retirement Benefits and Medicare - It’s best to contact Social Security three months before the month in which you want to receive benefits to discuss the options that are available to you. In some cases, your choice of retirement month could mean additional benefits for you and your family.

Even if you don’t plan to receive benefits because you’ll continue working, or if you have filed for disability you should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65 regardless of when you reach full retirement age. Otherwise, your Medicare medical insurance (Part B) could be delayed and you could be charged a higher premium.

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How do I apply for retirement benefits?

You can apply on line at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyforbenefits or by calling 1-800-772-1213 between 7a.m. and 7p.m., Monday through Friday. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number 1-800-325-0778, between 7a.m. and 7p.m., Monday through Friday, to file your claim. You also can apply at any Social Security office. To avoid having to wait, you may want to call first to make an appointment.

Be sure to have these items handy: your Social Security number, birth certificate, W-2 forms or self-employment tax return for last year, and your bank name and account number so your benefits can be deposited directly into your account.

In addition to the information listed above, you will need:

  • Your military discharge papers if you had military service;
  • Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number and your marriage certificate if he or she is applying for benefits; and
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status if you were not born in the United States.

You will need to mail or deliver original documents or copies that have been certified by the issuing office to the Social Security office.

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