Can a non-citizen receive Social Security benefits?

A new law, Public Law 104-193, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, permits payment of Social Security benefits to non-citizens living in the United States only if they are lawfully present in this country. The law requires that anyone living in the U.S. who applies for Social Security benefits on or after September 1, 1996, must provide evidence that he or she is a U.S. citizen or U.S. national, or an alien lawfully present in the U.S. as determined by the Attorney General.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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