The Social Security Administration, SSA provides benefits to U.S. employees even if they are not native Americans. As long as you or an immigrant fulfills the mandatory qualifications for social security eligibility, they are good to go.
You can qualify for social security even if you are not a U.S. citizen through your prior work credits earned in other countries, your military record or other job experiences.
Qualifying for social security on prior work experience abroad
Legal immigrants who do not have enough work experience in the U.S. but have a history of prior work experience and work credits from work abroad could qualify for social security in the U.S. These countries sign a 'totalization agreement' for citizens with dual citizenships or work abroad to avail social security in these countries without needing double work credits to earn the benefits. These countries include:
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Czech Republic
- Slovak Republic
Qualifying for social security as legal immigrants
You need to have a social security number, SSN to earn social security benefits. The SSN is awarded to U.S. citizens, legal immigrants and non-resident U.S. citizens working abroad. The SSN would be your best friend while talking to social security administration. Also you will need to have your SSN to be hired by a law abiding employer in the US. This will ensure that the employer would pay social security taxes, a.k.a FICA taxes on your behalf to the US government. As long as you have paid social security taxes and earned 40 work credits, you will be eligible to claim your social security benefits when needed.
Earning enough work credits would ensure that you are entitled to claim your benefits once you reach retirement. For people born after 1929, you do not need to earn full 40 work credits to qualify for social security. The number of work credits you need would depend on your age and the number of years you worked.
As an exchange for future social security benefits, you would need to pay 6.2% taxes on your paycheck even if you are an immigrant. Your employer would deduct the social security tax amount at a rate of 6.2% on $132,900 of your earnings annually and report your wages to the government. Any amount you earn over it would not be subject to the social security taxes.
For further information on earning social security disability benefits as a legal US immigrant you can contact a disability attorney.