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Jonathan Tierney
Jonathan Tierney, Certified Public Accountant
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 322
Experience:  Tax Accountant at Praxair, Inc.
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There is a woman at my church that we are assisting and

Customer Question

There is a woman at my church that we are assisting and helping to navigate the various systems we are part of. She is from Nigeria and has been in the US for I think about 2 years. She just turned 70.
It was suggested that I call Jewish Vocational Services, which I did. I spoke with a counselor there who advised she is eligible for some social security income, perhaps about $600/month. When I told her about it, she said she had looked into that in Wisconsin and North Carolina, and had been told she was not eligible because she is not a citizen. (She has a green card.) She said she had accepted that that was not an option for her, and was not going to go through that [rejection] again.
Please advise if there is indeed some eligibility for her, and how the process works, where we should begin, and if there are qualifying requirements/exclusions.
Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
R L Brummel ###-##-####
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Jonathan Tierney replied 1 year ago.

Being a U.S. citizen is a general requirement to collect Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI), though there are several categories of permanent residents that do qualify. They are:

There are seven categories of non–citizens who are qualified aliens. You are a "qualified alien" if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says you are in one of these categories:

  1. Lawfully admitted for Permanent Residence (LAPR) in the U.S., including "Amerasian immigrant" as defined in P.L. 100-202, with a class of admission AM-1 through AM-8;

  2. Granted conditional entry under Section


    of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as in effect before April 1, 1980;

  3. Paroled into the U.S. under Section


    of the INA for a period of at least one year;

  4. Refugee admitted to the U.S. under Section 207 of the INA;

  5. Granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA;

  6. Deportation is being withheld under Section


    of the INA as in effect before April 1, 1997, or removal is being withheld under Section

    241(b)(3) of the INA;

  7. A “Cuban or Haitian entrant” under Section


    of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 or in a status that is to be treated as a “Cuban/Haitian entrant” for SSI purposes.

In addition, you can be a “deemed qualified alien” if, under certain circumstances, you, your child, or your parent has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by a family member while in the United States. (from

You can find more general information about SSI here:

The people at the Social Security office might have been quick to reject her as they do not handle these exceptions often and probably did not ask her enough question to screen to determine if she would qualify, so it might be up to her, and her representative if she brings one, to point out the specific category of "qualified alien" she would be (if that is the case). Even if she gets an initial rejection, she can appeal where a more an administrative law judge (an actual lawyer) will more likely understand the law and be able to apply it.

I do not know her entire situation so I believe you would have to find out more from her to see if she would qualify.

I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if I can clarify anything or answer any additional questions.

Thanks, Jonathan