If you become injured or ill with an H1B visa status, you may have to stop working. This can affect your ability to stay in the United States. Before you make plans to return to your home country, however, you may be wondering if there are benefits or compensation available to you under current law.
This question is relevant because as you probably know, H1B employees are entitled to the same benefits as their coworkers who happen to be U.S. citizens. Also, most non-citizens who work in the United States are required to pay Social Security taxes.
Reader question: “If I’m here on a H1B visa, can I get Social Security disability benefits?”
Answer: Likely not. Most H1B workers have three-year work contracts through U.S. employers, and you need at least 10 years of paying Social Security payroll taxes to qualify for SSDI.
How Long Have You Worked in the U.S. on Your H1B Visa?
The issue of whether you can collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments is a tricky one. As you know, your H1B visa is a nonimmigrant classification that applies to people like you who have come to the United States from another country to perform professional services in a specialty occupation – or to those who can offer services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project.
In order to qualify for this visa, you had to be sponsored by a U.S. employer. Those who are in the U.S. on an H1B visa may be admitted for a period of up to three years and generally cannot stay in the country beyond a total of six years. This is, in fact, the crux of the SSDI payment issue. Three to six years is likely not long enough of a work history to qualify for this particular federal benefits program. However, if your employer extends your contract enough so you meet the required history, it’s possible. But again, you generally have to leave the U.S. if you aren’t working.
Paying Into Social Security
The average salary of an H1B visa holder in the U.S. is $118,100. They pay an average $28,344 per year in taxes. Of that, H1B visa holders pay 6.2% of their annual income toward Social Security benefits, amounting to $7,322 per year. Generally, these are benefits that H1B visa holders do not ever get back, including Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits.
If an H1B via holder is laid off, fired, quits, or otherwise ceases employment with their employer, they may have up to 60 consecutive days or until the end of their authorized validity period to find new employment, change status, or depart the country. Those on an H1-B visa are generally required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Social Security Retirement Benefits May Still Be Available to Some H1B Workers
Non-citizens can claim Social Security benefits…but like U.S. citizens, those without citizenship need to have earned at least forty work credits to do so. Forty credits usually takes at least ten years of work to accrue.
Fortunately, the United States and many other countries have established “totalization agreements” that coordinate the U.S. Social Security program with the comparable programs of other countries. Here is a list of countries with which the United States has agreements of this nature:
- Czech Republic
- Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
These agreements ensure only one country taxes one worker for Social Security, but not both. They also see that workers who have paid into Social Security programs in two countries are not left without benefits when they retire. In some cases therefore, the Social Security Administration does pay retirement benefits to those who do not live in the United States.
Expert SSDI Claim Assistance is Available
To speak with a Social Security attorney in your state who is familiar with H1B visas, please click the button below now. It costs you nothing to speak with an expert about an injury or illness you suffered while in the United States on a work visa.
You deserve to find out if your Social Security disability claim has merit. If it does, an attorney charges you nothing in legal fees until after the SSA awards you benefits. And if you win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.