Social Security pays retirement and disability benefits to tens of millions of Americans. But the program doesn’t just provide for benefits to U.S. citizens. Indeed, even as controversy rages over the status of undocumented workers for various government programs, Social Security’s rules contain many provisions for resident and nonresident aliens, and some of them shock people who didn’t realize that noncitizens could even qualify for Social Security benefits. The Motely Fool takes a look at five ways in which Social Security looks beyond citizenship when making payments to workers.
1. Many noncitizens living in the U.S. can get Social Security benefits
Being a U.S. citizen isn’t a requirement for receiving Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration, noncitizens who are “lawfully in the United States and meet all eligibility requirements” can get benefits. That includes not only those admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act, but also those who qualify under provisions for family unity and for immediate relatives to live within the U.S. as well.
2. Even noncitizens who leave the U.S. can still get Social Security benefits under certain circumstances.
Typically, the SSA stops making payments to noncitizens after they have remained outside the U.S. for six months in a row. In order to restart those payments, though, all you have to do is return to the U.S. for a full calendar month.